The Canal at Guines                                                  A residential square                                        Site of The Castle Moat


.Guines - Street View

The History of Guines

This is an article by John Tomkinson entitled The Henrician Bastions of Guines Castle and was to be found at

During the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547) the town of Guines was an English frontier fortress in the northeastern corner of France, close to Calais. The district around Calais, the English Pale, was a gateway to Flanders and an economically important English foothold on continental Europe, as shown in Fig 1. The pale was subject to sporadic fighting and often used by Henry as a base from which to invade France as in 1513, 1522, 1523 and 1544. [1] Despite this state of armed peace, the fortifications in the pale were growing old and, at Guines, they had been so neglected that urgent repairs were required in 1536. [2] However, it was not until a general policy of fortifying the English borders was inaugurated in 1538, that serious thought was given to renovating the exposed situation at Guines. Fortuitously this renovation coincided with the introduction of bastions into English military architecture. 

Guines sits in a shallow and marshy valley that acts as a natural drainage route for surface water. Even today mud invades the town during heavy downpours. Due to high ground nearby, the castle was rather exposed to the south and east where previous extensions had taken the form of a masonry outer wall. This had a good number of gun loops to provide a better defensive system in this direction, as shown in Fig. 2.

Since the town of Guines lay due south of the castle, it offered an obvious opportunity to deepen the defensive network in this exposed area. Enclosing the town in a modern wall would have significantly augmented the fortress. Several drawings remain from the early 1540s and they show alternative designs for the refortification of the town and the castle, see Figs. 3 and 4. These designs capture an instant in the development of bastions  throughout.


What the Tourist blurb says about Guines

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"Guines is situated in the heart of the 3-Pays, a group of some 15 communes who are pleased to offer you around 300 km of well-marked and maintained paths, which are accessible by foot, or horseback or mountain-bikes, so that you can appreciate the richness and diverse nature of our region"

My thanks to Peter J Read for bringing Guines to life both with the quality of his digital pictures and his driving us to Guines and Marck in 2001; to the Guines Tourist Office; to Guines Museum (open Tuesdays and Thursday or is it all the week?) and fish and chips in Calais on our return.

Guines Town Square

Particular thanks to Monsieur Louf who was exceedingly generous with his time showing us the site of the Huguenot Temple and Guines Castle.

"Guines, famous for the meeting of Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France on the Field of the Cloth of Gold ( Camp du Drap d'Or ), also saw the landing of the first cross Channel flight - by balloon in 1785 - and a monument in the Forest of Guines marks the spot.".... Look out for the name BLANCHARD.

Translation of a paragraph on p12 of "Les huguenots de Flandre et d’Artois" by  F. DeVos

"The Calvinist communities of Guînes and Marck had been founded after the resumption of Calais by France in 1558. The “reconquered Country” was devastated. To repopulate the area the king of France Henri II was obliged to call upon foreign elements. Currently the Spaniards were persecuting the Flemish and Artesian Huguenots. Henri II allowed this of these unhappy Calvinists through necessity. They were very few in Calais even; Ballighem, Holy Tricat Coulogne Guemps, very large number. Two temples were built. After the destruction of the temple of Marck by the Spanish troops in 1641, Guînes became the only place where the Calaisian Calvinists could openly exert their worship. These refugees were craftsmen and small farmers. In the solicitors records is mentioned their possession of a hop field, a canardière, a peat bog. Some were more fortunate. One quotes a certain Pussy which had a network for the sale of tobacco. It had been important for England that had the first machine to cut out the tobacco. It imported also spices of Zealand and distributed them to Etaples."