19th century Sailing Ship off Castle Cornet in Guernsey

Dennis Melling

Drobeta Turnu Severin, Romania

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Artist's Description

This is my original graphite pencil sketch of a sailing ship heading for the safe harbour of St Peter Port in Guernsey, before the storm breaks. In Winter the weather, currents and tides here can be absolutely frightening.

I know because I was caught here in the Winter of 1999, single handing in my small yacht and my planned 1 week transit of the area was extended to many weeks of much stress and back breaking effort.

During this time I was caught out in a storm and spent 41 hours, at the helm, before I was able to make landfall.

Castle Cornet was originally built in the 13th century and withstood many major wars which involved repairs and modifications throughout it’s history.

Original graphite pencil sketch.

In 1672 gunpowder kept in the Donjon exploded during a thunderstorm. The explosion killed seven people including the young wife and the mother of the Governor, Lord Hatton. It destroyed the Tower, Chapel and Governor`s residences, greatly altering the appearance of the Castle and from that time, no Governor has lived here. Many artefacts were buried in the rubble of the explosion, some of which are on display in the ‘Story of Castle Cornet’ Museum. A facsimile of part of Lady Cecilia Hatton’s will, the wife of the Governor, is also exhibited. Poignantly, it was written in Castle Cornet only six months before she died and her bequests reveal a gentle, caring nature.

The last time that the castle was modified was during the German occupation in WW2, when it was called the ‘Hafenschlosss’ (harbour Castle) from 1940 until 1945. The occupying forces built air raid shelters and platforms for anti aircraft guns to update the Castle for 20th century warfare

Artwork Comments

  • Sue Nichol
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  • RickDavis
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