24th August 1846

Queen Victoria visited Guernsey

Queen Victoria’s visit to Guernsey, the first by a reigning monarch in six centuries, was a far from organised affair. Her yacht and its accompanying steamers had been spotted off St Martin’s Point the night before, seemingly by chance. The Lieutenant Governor was dispatched to meet them by boat.

The piers around St Peter Port quickly filled up with people trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on. Several set out in boats of their own, toward the royal boat, which was somewhat predictably called the Victoria and Albert. When the Lieutenant Governor re-emerged, he announced that the queen intended to visit Guernsey at nine o’clock the following morning. She would tour for two hours before returning to her vessel.

Preparations for a royal visit

Officials were sent out to notify the island that the queen would be coming ashore. A special meeting of the Royal Court was set for 7.30am on the 24th. This gave the magistrates an opportunity to write an official welcome for the monarch.

As the Guernsey Star reported, “Every man, woman, and child who was able to move was afoot before daybreak – many of them much earlier. Some were occupied in collecting and arranging flowers and branches for garlands and festoons, others in preparing flags &c, and others getting ready to perform their military duty, or to secure places for witnessing the scene, in which all took so lively and heartfelt an interest”.

The boats in the harbour were moved out of the way and the streets that the queen would use were covered in sand to quieten the noise of the traffic. The causeway by which she would land was carpeted.

Despite so much effort, Victoria’s tour was far from comprehensive. She looked at Fort George and St Martin’s church but was back at the harbour by 10.20, to be rowed back to her yacht by barge. By 11am, the royal party had left for Portsmouth.

Nonetheless, the event had been so remarkable that plans were put in place to commemorate it. A stone was laid where she had stepped ashore and work began on Victoria Tower, which now overlooks Town.


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Other events that occured in August

The Saumarez Memorial foundation stone was laid 1st
Guernsey won double-silver at the Commonwealth Games 2nd
Earl Grey was appointed Governor of Guernsey 3rd
A boy scout fell 250ft over a Torteval Cliff 4th
Jethou tenant was rescued from an up-turned boat 5th
A tomato ship and a tanker collided 6th
Human remains were found on Lihou 7th
The Beatles played at Candie Gardens 8th
The RAF bombed Guernsey Airport 9th
Guernesiais linguist Marie de Garis died 10th
Alderney experienced a total eclipse of the sun 11th
A minister was found dead at Icart Point 12th
Guernsey steam tramway is granted its concession 13th
Police found a bomb in Bluebell Wood 14th
Hanois Lighthouse’s foundation stone was laid 15th
Charlie Chaplin played in St Peter Port 16th
St Peter Port inundated with fish 17th
A royal visit… of sorts
The Rolling Stones played St Peter Port 18th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published 19th
Archaeologist Crystal Bennet was born 20th
Mapmaking geologist John MacCulloch died 21st
St Sampson pensioner was buried in a landslide 22nd
Trident VI ran aground on its return from Herm 23rd
Queen Victoria visited Guernsey 24th
The post-Occupation military government was disbanded 25th
Wesleyans celebrated 100 years on Guernsey 26th
Oliver Reed was jailed in Guernsey 27th
Guernsey’s Reform Law was enacted 28th
Winston Churchill visited Guernsey with his wife 29th
Philip de Saumarez was discharged as a Jurat 30th
Jersey swimmers set a round-Guernsey record 31st