Fort Henry

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Fort Henry


Fort Henry is on the southern end of Grouville Common. It is not strictly a coastal tower because it was already there when the decision was made to build a chain of towers around the island's coastline. But it was notionally Grouville Tower No 6. Together with Fort William to the north, which was notionally Grouville No 7, these two defensive installations fell between Grouville No 5, to the south, which is still standing today, and the tower closest to Gorey, No 8, which was demolished in the 1870s


HER statement

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:

"Fort Henry (formerly known as Fort Conway) is the only fort of its kind in Jersey and unique in a British Isles context.
"The fort was located among the sand dunes of Grouville Bay and designed to hold the central sector of the coastline. Construction began in about 1772. [1]
"The fort is still in something approaching its original setting, albeit currently manicured as golf links. It was the barracks of the 83rd Regiment of Foot during the Battle of Jersey - 6 January 1781. Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795.
"The fort has a heavy, battered masonry curtain surrounding a yard with a large square keep tower on the seaward side flanked by raised stone gun platforms. The keep is of unique design - in effect a square Conway Tower integral to the surrounding fortress with machicolations on diagonally opposed corners [2].
"There are some rare surviving internal timber fittings (loophole doorframes) and it is likely that there was originally an external dry ditch as is found at other forts in the island.
"The German forces modified the keep in 1941 with steel and concrete insertions, and most notably by the addition of two boldly projecting cantilevered platforms for searchlights. The Germans also built concrete shelters inside the yard and added machine gun nests at each corner of the fort.
"There has been post-war demolition of ancillary buildings within the yard, most notably the C-plan accommodation block that stood astride the fort entrance. The yard is currently used as a maintenance depot for the Royal Jersey Golf Club and there are various post-war structures."

German Occupation

Pictures taken of Fort Henry during the German Occupation obtained from a collector and German archive services


Notes and references

  1. The website says that 'the fort belongs to the early Conway period', which is totally misleading. Although Conway was appointed Governor of Jersey in 1772 and the fort was initially named in his honour, he did not visit Jersey for another six years and the fort was not part of his programme of coastal defences
  2. This is again misleading. Although there are some similarities with the later Conway Towers, they are relatively minor. It is conceivable that the tower was a later addition to the fort, which may have been constructed as a simple redoubt, on the same lines as Fort William, but there is no evidence to support this. It is possible that the tower here was an inspiration for the design later produced by or on behalf of Conway, but that is also speculation. The only square tower constructed by Conway is the offshore Seymour Tower, but apart from its square footprint, it has little in common with Fort Henry
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