The foundation stone of a memorial to Admiral James de Saumarez was laid in Delancey Park on 1 August 1876. He had died 40 years before, but such was the respect for him on Guernsey, even four decades later, that funds for the monument were raised entirely through public subscription.
It was completed a little over a year later – on 11 October 1877 – but not officially unveiled until 1 August 1878. That date marked the Battle of the Nile, at which de Saumarez had been second in command to Admiral Nelson.
The column had been an impressive 99-foot tall obelisk of Guernsey granite. Designed by local architect AC Andros, it was built by Mr J Le Page.
The memorial’s destruction
All that now remains of the memorial is its base, after the column itself was destroyed by the Occupying forces on 7 December 1943. It had been obscuring a firing line and view of the sea. According to an archived page from the States of Guernsey website, some of the granite that was recovered was later used to enlarge the Rosiere Steps on Herm.
The four plaques that once adorned it are now at Castle Cornet. They were moved there when the States of Guernsey decided not to replace the column.
Plans to rebuild the memorial on its original base were dropped in October 2015. The Admiral de Saumarez Trust wanted to erect a replica in Delancy Park, St Sampson, along with a cafe, but had insufficient funds to proceed. The project was expected to cost around £750,000.
The plans were significantly more ambitious than the originals had been. As reported by the BBC,
Architect Andrew Dyke said “the proposed design will be a spirit of the original” adding, “it will be lit up with lights representing the constellations and stars with which the Admiral would have been very familiar for navigation purposes. ”The monument will be clearly visible from many parts of the Island and from the Northern and Eastern approaches.”
The original plan was to have finished the new memorial by Liberation Day 2010.
In 1980, Admiral de Saumarez appeared on Guernsey’s £20 banknote.