On this day in 1905…
The Duke of Connaught visits Guernsey

Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and brother of reigning monarch King Edward VII, arrived on Guernsey on 23 September 1905. As Inspector General of the Army, he had a number of official duties to perform, not least of which was to unveil the South African War Memorial in St Peter Port.

It had cost just shy of £600 to buy the land, and design, build and erect the memorial. Standing 5.7m (18ft 9in) tall, it was funded by public subscription and depicts two soldiers of the 1899 to 1902 war in South Africa. This campaign is sometimes also known as the Second Boer War.

One of the figures is lying wounded on the floor while his colleague stands over him. The figures are carved from marble and the plinth, which bears the names of the 45 Guernsey men who died in battle, is granite, cut from Vale quarry.

The memorial was designed by W Newbury.

The visit and unveiling

The spot where the Duke of Connaught stepped ashore from his steamer is now marked by a stone at St Peter Port harbour.

He gave a short speech, then inspected the various troops stationed on the island. With that done, he made his way up St Julian’s Avenue for the memorial’s unveiling.

He stayed on Guernsey for five days, which would now be almost unprecedented for a royal visit, and on each day inspected some aspect of the island’s military or its infrastructure, including Castle Cornet and Fort George.

On his final day – a Tuesday – he sailed to Alderney, and from there made his way back to the mainland.

Guernsey’s pubs had been allowed to stay open for an extra hour on the first day of the duke’s visit to celebrate his arrival. Where they usually closed at ten, this was extended to eleven by special ordnance (PDF).

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged

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