In the late 18th and early 19th century the island was clearly under threat of invasion by French forces and the authorities took this threat seriously as demonstrated by the number of towers which still exist around Jersey but they do add another dimension to our paddling.
As we continue our journey by kayak around the coastal waters of Jersey there are number which we encounter on a more regular basis. Fliquet Tower is probably the closest to the Jersey Canoe Club premises although we probably paddle past Archirondel more frequently. Three of the towers are on offshore islets, the two shown here plus Seymour Tower, off the south east corner.
The tower at Fliquet is seen regularly by members of the Jersey Canoe Club, who pass by regularly on their summer evening paddles. The tower looks unusual because the top fortifications have been removed. It is one of the oldest towers and was in existence before 1787.
In the centre of Portelet lies the small island, Ile au Guerdain. On its summit is the tower which is known locally as Janvrin’s Tomb, this is due to the death of Philippe Janvrin, the captain of the vessel, the Esther, from the plague. The authorities refused to allow the body to be brought ashore and so the crew buried his body on this small island, within sight of his home. The grave has long been replaced by the Tower which was built in 1808 to help protect the island from Napoleonic forces.
Another tower which is situated offshore is Icho Tower, built in 1810 to help protect the south coast. For the paddling bird watcher this is a particularly productive region during the winter months, with a wide range of species.
Victoria Tower, built in 1837 was the last one to be built in the 19th century. It is unique amongst Jersey towers because it has a moat and a drawbridge. Behind is St Catherine’s Breakwater, the home of the Jersey Canoe Club.
Looking south from the top of Mont Orgueil Castle across the Royal Bay of Grouville. This area was particularly vulnerable to attack from French forces so within this bay alone there were six towers plus two Forts.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of sea kayaking in Jersey is the historical background to the paddles. The Jersey Towers are just one aspect to the rich and varied history of this small island.