Bouley Bay

This deep water inlet has proved attractive to both attackers and defenders in the past.

For example, the French landing of July 1549, when the French, fresh from capturing Sark, landed here and fought a pitched battle with the Jersey Militia on the heights of Jardin D’Olivet.

This action led to the first defensive position being established in 1595, on the west side of the bay. This became Fort Leicester, and evolved into what we see today; a Napoleonic fortification with positions for five guns, supplemented by concrete emplacements that date from the Second World War.

To the east, there is L’Etacquerel Fort, built in 1835 to replace a defence that was sited further up the cliff. Accounts of L’Etacquerel Fort in 1840 reveal that it was protected by a ‘loop-holed wall and ditch’, and that it carried four heavy guns on traversing platforms. The battery stood 54 feet above the high water mark; it had a magazine that could hold 90 barrels of powder, and accommodation for an officer and forty soldiers. By 1848, there were four 32 pounders here.

During the Civil War, Parliamentary forces landed here, hoping to capture any Royalists that hadn’t found refuge in the castles. Then again in 1769 after the Corn Riots, Colonel Bentinck brought five companies of Highlanders ashore here, and marched on St.Helier.

Defensive has also played its part; Bouley Bay was one of three locations considered for a great ‘Harbour of Refuge’ that was to be built to house the British Channel Fleet during the 1850s.

Unfortunately an odd combination of wind and tide that would sometimes prevent sailing ships leaving the bay put paid to the idea, and St.Catherine’s Bay, on Jersey’s east coast, was chosen.

These days Bouley Bay is no longer integral to the island’s safety. On Bank Holidays the hill is used for speed hill climbing for motor cars and motor bikes; its deep waters are used for scuba diving, and the Napoleonic fortifications are now self-catering holiday accommodation.

©Arthur Lamy

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