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A Chart, or Bird's Eye View of Chateau-Cornet, and other Islets between Sark and Guernsey

A Chart, or Bird's Eye View of Chateau-Cornet, and other Islets between Sark and Guernsey

Cartographer: [Popinjay, Richard ]

Medium: Ink on vellum

Date: 1570

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii

Item number: f.60

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a pen and ink drawing featuring Castle Cornet in Guernsey, Channel Islands. It dates from around 1570. Pictorial in style, it shows St. Peter Port with ships, also noting other settlements and landmarks in the area.
The outbreak of war with France in 1557 focussed attention on Guernsey and the castle was found to be in no state to withstand attack. In 1558 Sir Leonard, captain and governor appealed to Sir William Cecil, now reappointed as secretary of State, for help with the project. Contemporary writings show that the weakness of the castle was recognised, but the natural strength of its rocky site meant that a decision was made to only fortify ‘that side of the castle which is subject to the town and hills on the town side’ Chamberlains Mount seems to be the result of this decision, a raised battery formed by piling earth against and inside the west wall of the medieval south bailey, which was rebuilt to contain it.
The draughtsman may well be Richard Popinjay, the Portsmouth surveyor who was the consulting engineer for works on Guernsey at this time and was superintending works at Castle Cornet in 1564. In March he was ‘making provision’ for works on the island and from April until the end of July he was in Guernsey, bringing workmen from England with him. Work on the Channel Islands was expensive as materials had to be brought from England or France . The lack of limestone in the islands, meant that lime had either be brought from England or Normandy. This meant that in the past the castle walls had been built of un mortared rubble and were now in ruins. In 1567 Francis Chamberlain wrote to the Privy Council with a schedule of urgent repairs requiring attention in light of the likelihood of a French attack.
Sir Francis Chamberlain died in 1570 and was succeeded by Sir Thomas Leighton . A council warrant of February 1573 shows that Popinjay received 20 marks ‘to be employed in certain works at Guernsey’ indicates that he had responsibility for these works. The names on the drawing are French.

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