On Wednesday 14th June 2017 the States of Alderney agreed to refurbish the Napoleonic accommodation within the historic Roman fort, known locally as the Nunnery. The intention is that once the work has been completed early in 2018 the Alderney Wildlife Trust, working with the Alderney Society, Jason Monaghan Guernsey Museum Services and the States of Alderney, will open the Alderney bird Observatory & Nunnery Field Centre (ABONFC).
Given the States of Alderney is the owner of the Nunnery, the site’s potential historic significance and its value in supporting economic development on Alderney, the ABONFC will:
- Ensure the long-term protection of the site via routine maintenance, a planned programme of conservation and sympathetic restoration.
- Utilise the potential of the site as a tourist attraction, enhancing Alderney’s reputation as a niche tourist destination.
- Develop display and interpretation signage so that the site can be enjoyed by the general public, tourists and educational groups. This includes interpretation signage of the post-Roman and German structures and Longis Common overall.
- Utilise the Nunnery sustainably to the benefit of the island.
The development of field centre accomodation at the Nunnery will help the ABO in continuing to attract bird ringers and bird watchers to visit Alderney, along with many others such as –
- conservation volunteers,
- heritages specialists
- and even students doing their Duke of Edinburgh community contribution
and give them the opportunity to stay in the oldest standing building in the Channel Islands and the best preserved Roman small forts in the British Isles.
The Nunnery’s importance extends beyond the Roman period. It is currently believed that the site has occupied, almost continuously, for 1,700 years. It was refurbished as an 18th century gun battery then served as barracks, hospital, married quarters and farm. There is even a suggestion that at some point before the 18th century it had actually been a convent. Finally it was converted to Resistance Nest ‘Piratenschloss’ by the Germans during World War II.So keep watching this space to find out more.