Jersey has a wide range of defensive fortifications from prehistoric times through to the 1940s. The defensive works at La Crête Point have evolved from a 16th century boulevard to the construction of a fort in 1834 as part of an island-wide defensive strategy against French invasion, to modifications made by the German occupying forces during the Second World War.
An historic map from Popinjay shows a boulevard in the vicinity of La Crête in 1563. It wasn’t until 1778, that the Royal Jersey Militia recommended placing a “Tower at the Bonne Nuit landing place, a Battery of 2 guns on the point of La Crête and an additional embrasure for the present battery to cover La Crête”. The Duke of Richmond Map of Jersey (surveyed from 1787, published 1795) shows an upper and lower battery, and a guardhouse at La Crête.
In an extract from ‘A Respectable Little Work’ by Martin Brice, La Crête Point was fortified by the States in 1813 - originally called Havre Giffard Battery it mounted two captured French naval 18-pounder guns served by a magazine, a store and a guard house. The barracks (on the site of the Cheval Roc Hotel) accommodated regular troops acting as a mobile reserve and reinforcement for the batteries plus the other fortifications at Frèmont Point, Pouclés, Vicard Point and Les Huvets. Centralised control was provided by a signal post at Le Mont Mado. After the defeat of Napoleon, some of these batteries were reduced in size or abandoned but La Crête retained both its 18-pounder cannon.
In an extract from ‘A Respectable Little Work’ by Martin Brice: “The fort was built in 1834 at a cost of £971 - the contractor a Mr Slater. There was accommodation for 1 officer and 30 other ranks from the Royal Jersey Militia. The planned armament of two 18-pounders and four 12-pounders had not yet arrived. In 1837, the new Lieutenant Governor wanted an update on these improvements and so a report was produced by the new commanding Royal Engineer, Lt Col. Oldfield. The principal work at Bonne Nuit, La Crête Fort, needed only minor works such as repairing roofs damaged by storm, easing doors, windows and shutters, and painting outside iron work”.
La Crête Fort lost its military importance in the second half of the 19th century and was abandoned.
During the Occupation, the fort was reinforced by the German forces as Resistance Point La Crête. It was armed with a 3.7cm PAK anti-tank gun, a MG 34S 7.92mm heavy machine gun, 2 light machine guns, a mortar and a 30cm searchlight. The site was manned by 3 NCOs and 17 other ranks .
After the Occupation in 1968, the Fort was placed at the disposal of the Lieutenant-Governor for use as a summer residence. In 2006, the Lieutenant Governor relinquished use of the building to the Public of the Island of Jersey under the administration of the Jersey Heritage Trust. The fort was renovated as part of the Forts and Towers project.
To read more about La Crête Fort, please see our conservation statement.
Images can be found at Société Jeriasie