Archirondel Tower is unique in that it was not built on the shoreline, but on a rocky outcrop which was surrounded by the sea at high tide. Then work started on the southern arm of what was intended to be part of a giant naval harbour and the tower was linked to the shore. Shortly afterwards the harbour construction was abandoned and all that remains is a short stub of what was intended to be a long breakwater
Work started in the spring of 1793 and finishing 18 months later. It was the twenty second tower to be completed, sixteen years after the first. Jersey's Governor, General (later Field Marshal) Henry Seymour Conway, who was horrified at the state of Jersey's defences when he first came to the island in 1778, six years after his appointment, was annoyed that it took so long to complete the tower when it had earlier been possible to build four in a single year.
It was the first tower to have a gun platform constructed around the base and was a prototype for La Rocco Tower in St Ouen's Bay. It is also unusual in that the mâchicoulis at the top are double the usual size, but there are only three of them rather than the usual four.
It was originally intended that there would be a further tower at Anne Port extending the east coast chain further south, but permission was not given. A dispute between Conway and his political bosses over costs meant that it eventually came down to a choice between another tower and the gun platform - both costing similar sums. Conway wanted both, but he was overruled and the gun platform was built around the Archirondel tower.
Along with all Jersey's other coastal towers and historic fortifications it is a listed building, described as follows in the Jersey Heritage Historic Environment Record website:
- "Archirondel Tower is one of 23 Conway towers built between 1778 and 1801 in coastal locations where a risk of enemy landing was present.
- "It is an evolution of the basic Conway design, incorporating new elements. Only three towers were constructed with a gun battery at the foot of the tower (the others being Seymour Tower and La Rocco Tower).
- "Defensive tower built 1794 with surrounding battery added 1795. 1940s German modifications.
- "The tower is of a modified Conway pattern with a surrounding stone battery at its base. It is round and built of very regular squared and well-tooled blocks of granite with some rhyolite at its base. A third of the way up the tower the proportion of rhyolite gradually increases and the upper section is constructed entirely of this stone. Dressed granite is used around openings and for the cantilevers of the projecting machicolations. Brick is also used to dress openings.
- "The tower is 41ft 6in high. The walls taper externally with a thickness of 6ft 6in at the base and 3ft 6in at the top.
- "The tower is arranged on four levels. At basement level is a brick vaulted magazine. Originally only accessible via the entrance level above, the basement can now be entered through an external doorway inserted by the Germans in the 1940s. A steel blast door and a reinforced concrete structure that extends into the battery protect this.
- "The 1794 entrance is raised at first floor level (originally reached by removable ladder but now by modern metal staircase). There is a heavy timber outer door behind which is a 1940s concrete doorway with steel blast door and lintel inscribed '1941' with an image of a swastika. The room is separated from the upper level above by a 1940s reinforced concrete floor.
- "There is a circuit of loopholes around the room designed for musketeers. They are larger than in earlier Conway towers and are angled downward for close-range fire. Above these are some small windows. All openings are dressed with brick. There is a fireplace.
- "Access to the upper level is now via a wooden companionway stair, although originally it was via a stair set in a niche within the thickness of the external wall. The upper level is a brick vaulted room similarly designed with a circuit of gun loopholes with small windows above. There is a fireplace.
- "Access to the roof level is via a steel ladder within the original staircase niche. The roof platform is supported off the brick vault below. There is a masonry parapet with cement capping and three projecting machicolations equipped with loopholes for muskets. These are double the size of earlier machicolations and each provides an angle of fire of 120 degrees.
- "In the centre of the roof is a 1940s circular concrete platform. A modern concrete block cabin covers the access hatch.
- "Around the base of the tower is a battery, oval in plan and designed with four traversing gun platforms facing out towards the bay and sea. The encircling defensive wall is constructed of rubble masonry with dressed granite copings and granite dressings to openings. Within the platforms are gun emplacements constructed of a mixture of reinforced concrete, masonry and brick (presumably for camouflage purposes) constructed by the German occupying forces in the 1940s.
- "The south side of the battery is pierced by a gateway (blocked in the 1940s) with granite steps leading down to the rocky outcrop. The west side of the battery is pierced by a gateway that leads onto a partially enclosed area defended by a loopholed wall overlooking the rocky outcrop."
Pictures of the tower taken during the German Occupation
The tower is now administered by Jersey Heritage and has been restored and adapted for use as self-catering accommodation. Sleeping two adults and two children, it is available from £445 for a two-night stay, rising to £1664 for a 7-night stay in high season.
- "Split over four levels with a large terrace at ground level and a roof terrace overlooking the tranquil bay of Archirondel, the Tower is great for those looking for adventure, with the sea on your doorstep. Inside the Tower the ground floor comprises of a beautiful vaulted-celling kitchen and dining area with a dining table for four. A very narrow spiral staircase takes you up to a sleeping area, with one double bed and two single sofa beds and then continues on up to the cosy living space with a log burning stove for winter evenings. The roof terrace, with views across the bay and beyond, is accessed from the living space via the staircase. The sleeping area can also be accessed using the external metal stairs."