Fort Clonque

Alderney, Channel Islands

About this Landmark

Fort Clonque is the most remarkable of the great mid-Victorian harbour works off Alderney, built to protect the Channel Islands from capture by the French. Perched on a group of large rocks surrounded by the waves, you reach the Fort by a spectacular causeway leading to a drawbridge.

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • Open SpaceOpen Space
  • Logs availableLogs available
  • Parking AvailableParking Available
  • BathBath
  • DishwasherDishwasher
  • Outside Dining FurnitureOutside Dining Furniture
  • MicrowaveMicrowave
  • RemoteRemote
  • ShowerShower
  • Washing MachineWashing Machine

Beds 5 Twin, Triple room

  • Sleeps 13
  • 4 nights from £715
  • equivalent to £13.75 per person, per night

An important base in the early days of steam ships

The advent of steam ships in the 1840s made the Channel Islands more strategically important for refuelling and therefore equally desirable to the French as the British. Fort Clonque is the most remarkable of Alderney’s great harbour defences, begun in 1847 and designed for ten 64-pounder guns in four open batteries, manned by two officers and 50 men. However, the rapid increase in range of steam ships made Clonque redundant in purpose almost as soon as it was completed and it was left disarmed but intact. The Germans, briefly, again sought to exploit the Fort’s strategic possibilities in the 1940s.

Marine views second to none

At high tide the Fort is cut off from the rest of the island. The accommodation is spread across several different buildings. On calm days the sea can be heard all around the Fort, which sleeps up to 13 people. There are spectacular views of the other islands, rocks and stacks and two great colonies of gannets, which fish round the fort. Most forts are often large and grim but Clonque, ingeniously contrived on many levels, is small, open and picturesque, interspersed with stretches of grass and samphire. Any cold or damp, characteristic of such a fort, will be more than compensated for by the delight of its spectacular setting.  The rest of Alderney is also extremely pleasant, just small enough to be explored entirely on foot or very easily by bicycle. All the Victorian and German defence works are interesting, the beaches at the north end are exceptional and in the centre is St Anne, a very pretty little town, English with a hint of France.

Floor Plan

‘I had one of the best night’s sleep ever in an old gun battery’

Dan Snow, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

Map & local info

Fort Clonque is perched on the south-west tip of Alderney, the most northerly of the Channel Islands. Alderney is only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, so walking and cycling are perfect ways to explore the island and enjoy the scenic views.

For a relaxing trip to the eastern end of the island, where you can visit the the lighthouse, hop onto the charming Alderney Railway, the unique Channel Islands' steam railway.

St Anne, referred to as St Anne's, is the only town on Alderney. Its quaint, cobbled main street, occupied exclusively by local shops, makes an interesting change from a more customary high street. Visit the beautiful church of St Anne, the 'Cathedral of the Channel Islands', and the Alderney Society Museum, both in the town centre.

The island caters for a diverse range of interests. It is a haven for birdwatching and widlife enthusiasts, especially on the west coast. Fishing is permitted anywhere along the coastline and harbour and sailing is a popular activity too. 

Experience the challenges and spectacular vistas on the courses of Alderney Golf Club

The choice of beaches on Alderney provides the chance to relax on the sand, swim, surf and explore rockpools.

Enjoy the rich mix of festivals and events, including the notable Alderney Week, on offer throughout the year on the island to keep everyone entertained.

For more information on things to do during your stay at Fort Clonque, please see our Pinterest page. 

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

Fort Clonque
Alderney, Channel Islands
Clear directions

Air links

Aurigny operate flights from Southampton and Guernsey.

Scheduled sea links to Alderney from France:

Vedettes du Cotentin: carries (12 passengers) from and to Dielette (nr. Cherbourg). For bookings www.vedettesducotentin.com or by phone 0033 7 60 20 20 40

Victor Hugo: high speed passenger ferry operated by Manche Iles Express. Scheduled sailings from Dielette (nr. Cherbourg), St. Peter Port (Guernsey) from April to September. For further information and updates please visit www.manche-iles-express.com

Lady Maris II: (12 passengers) to and from Cherbourg every Wednesday and Saturday, and every Thursday to and from Guernsey, Sark and Herm. Bookings with www.alderneygiftbox.com

‘The Fort is fantastic, especially during a good blow, when the sky rains sea foam!’

‘It was like being in a big granite ocean liner.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

    No.
  • How is the property accessed?

    Via a causeway from the main island.
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    There is a parking area just outside the fort entrance.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is a carbon-neutral biomass boiler central heating system and also an open fire..
  • How can I get fuel for the open fire or stove?

    There is a suitable supply of coal, kindling wood and firelighters provided. You can purchase additional supplies from the housekeeper.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker, dishwasher and microwave.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are three bathrooms, one with a large walk-in shower and two with baths.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

    No.
  • Is this a property for hardier visitors?

    Yes, this property is difficult to heat in the winter.
  • Can I access the roof?

    Yes, at Fort Clonque you can access rooftops and there are also unprotected precipitous walls. We would ask that care is taken in inclement weather and that children are not allowed to play unsupervised in these areas.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?

    No – there are steep drops from the cliff sides.
  • Are any rooms outside the main accommodation?

    Yes, the Officers' Quarters, Soldiers Quarters' and bedrooms are all seperate buildings with no internal access between the buildings.

    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).

    Facilities

  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

Response to a perceived threat

Fort Clonque was built between the years 1853 and 1855, at the height of the war scare that followed the rise of French naval power, and the accompanying enlargement and fortification of the French port of Cherbourg – relatively speaking, a stone’s throw from the Channel Islands. Part of the British Government’s response to this perceived threat was the construction on Alderney of the great harbour works and the circle of coastal forts around the island.

The design of all these works was placed in the hands of a rising young star of the Royal Engineers, Captain William Jervois. A man of great physical energy and considerable resourcefulness (he went on to a distinguished career as Governor-General successively of the Straits Settlements, South Australia and New Zealand), he was able to work on a massive scale, using vast quantities of the local granite, and at the same time devoted great attention to detail. Fort Clonque, when complete, housed 55 men with two officers, in charge of a battery of ten guns.

Within a few years of its completion, however, the island fortifications were made collectively obsolete by the coming of the steam-powered ‘ironclads’. The superior speed and range of these warships meant that they could in an emergency reach the ports on the south coast of England, and no longer needed the shelter and defence offered by Alderney. Only a little more than twenty years after their completion the army lost all interest in the island. The harbour was never finished, and the forts were disarmed. By the turn of the century Fort Clonque had become a private residence, and began quietly to deteriorate.

For most of World War II, the German forces occupied Alderney, and naturally took over the forts. Fort Clonque was equipped with machine-gun posts and a massive bunker, though it does not seem to have been engaged in military activity. At the end of the war the buildings were left derelict and ruinous, and their owners (Mr. and Mrs. Duplain) laboured over the herculean task of repairing them. But the task was more than they could cope with. In 1966 the Landmark Trust purchased the fort, and the years of restoration began.

Great Victorian coastal defences

Although the Channel forts had formed the backbone of our great Victorian coastal defences, most of them were at that time abandoned and falling into ruin. It was a far-sighted action on the part of John Smith, the Trust’s founder, to take on one of them and set about its repair. The Trust’s first tasks after taking over the fort were to survey the buildings down to the last stone, and then to number and mark every piece of stonework that needed to be moved back to its original position.

The bunker was full of rubbish, only one original window had survived in ‘Officers’, roofs were sagging, and cast iron girders were rusting away. The old bricks had been made in the local brickworks from island clay and were of poor quality. All the stone and wood used in the repairs was salvaged: the oak floorboards in the living room of ‘Soldiers’ came from Fort Tourgis, for example, while the ‘Officers’ fireplaces came from Fort Albert. New doors were made, with handles produced specially by a Guernsey blacksmith.

The main task that faced the Trust, and its architect Philip Jebb, was the undoing of the extensive damage done to the fort by the Germans, in their indiscriminate use of concrete, asphalt and barbed wire. In addition to this, the aim was to reinstate the exterior of the fort to its original Victorian appearance – except for the bunker, which was anyway pretty well indestructible, and which now serves as a bedroom. The light and pleasant rooms inside the two barrack buildings were also to be restored, but modernised as necessary.

The difficulties of managing such a project, on what is virtually an island off an island, were formidable. All materials and equipment had to be specially transported to the fort by sea. Moreover, what could be done on any given day depended entirely on the weather, and especially on the wind which in Alderney can rise in an hour or two to a force to which it is impossible to stand up. Even the provision of basic services presented quite a problem. For many years water came from a spring on the shore, to be stored in a large tank. And only in 1990 was the fort connected to the island’s electricity supply, candles and gas having previously supplied all light and heat.

Some of the work had to be done by a regular contractor, but much else could be done – and would best be done – in a more gradual way. For instance, it was essential that all concrete be removed without causing damage to the blocks of granite that had been set carelessly in it, so that they could be reused. By the greatest good fortune, just at the point in 1967 when Landmark was considering how to achieve this, Arthur Markell retired from his post as supervisor of the Admiralty Breakwater.

Arthur Markell – ‘a man who really knows what life means, and who shows it in the work he is doing’ – had exactly the experience and skills the Trust needed, and he was employed at once. In 1984, after having worked for the Trust for some sixteen years or more, he was described as ‘an incredible good 79 years .. and having been a civil engineer can turn his hand to most things... his woodwork is of cabinet-maker standard.’ (He was nothing if not versatile: he also taught piano and had played in good hotels in London as part of dinnertime entertainment, as well as in the local cinema.) He was also said ‘always to have a smile on his face’ and to be ‘a perfectionist in everything that he did – the material for every job was carefully chosen and nothing but the right material would do, and the position of every screw and nail was precisely measured before insertion’, ‘you couldn’t imagine a better man for the job’. Throughout the restoration of the Fort he kept a diary in which he recorded every day the weather, the comings and goings of visitors and the maintenance and restoration tasks he had carried out on the Fort that day. With the help of an assistant, Mr. Markell was largely responsible for all the long and arduous work of clearing up the fort, rebuilding parapets and repointing walls, renewing windows and doors, fitting new bathrooms and kitchens, and painting walls. A team of builders, a maximum of five at any one time, was brought in only when it was necessary: to clear the unwanted concrete with pneumatic hammers, to renew the drawbridge, the ramp and the roofs of the barrack buildings (for which the original formula of lime cement poured over brick vaults to form a flat surface was reproduced) or to repair some of the vertiginous outer walls. Unfortunately, after Mr. Markell had carried out substantial repairs to the walls of Battery no. 3, the natural bridge that connected it to the rest of the rock collapsed during a storm in 1967, and that battery is no longer accessible. The collapse came as a shock to Mr. Duplain and caused him considerable anxiety, as he was afraid that the Trust might have suspected him of knowing the weakness of the arch, and concealing his knowledge.

Working with Victorian buildings of any sort teaches two main lessons: first, not to be afraid, indeed to be sure, of using a large scale, because they loved to – and in military buildings more than most; and, secondly, to be thorough about detail, because theirs was perhaps the supreme age of detailing, and a repair will look right only if done correspondingly well. This has been true at each of the buildings of this type that Landmark has restored – Crownhill Fort at Plymouth, the West Blockhouse at Dale in Dyfed, and especially here, at Fort Clonque.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.