28th February 1987

Two women are stranded on Seymour Tower

Seymour Tower was built by Sir Henry Seymour Conway in 1782 for the Jersey Militia East Division. Sitting a mile and a quarter off Jersey’s east coast, it’s linked to the island at low tide, allowing Jersey Heritage to run it as a holiday let, so long as renters are accompanied by a registered guide. Why? Not only so they can point out interesting flora and fauna, but to keep everyone safe: when the tide comes in, it does so very quickly and cuts off the tower from the island.

Two women discovered this when riding their horses close to the tower in thickening fog. They lost their bearings and couldn’t find their way back to the shore before the tide turned. After circling the tower several times, entirely unintentionally, they encouraged their horses to clamber up its rocky pedestal, leaving both them and the riders stranded, outside the locked tower.

Goodbye message

Three days later, the Liverpool Echo reported that “a woman trapped with her horse on a sea-battered tower told today how she used her whip to scratch a farewell message on the wall… the tide rose so fast that [she and her friend] used stirrup leathers to lash themselves down, wrote the message to their families, sang a few hymns and prayed for help”.

When the women didn’t return home, emergency services were alerted, and the women were rescued by the lifeboat. Their rescue was filmed, and the footage used in an episode of the BBC’s 999 programme, which recreated the dramatic rescue.

Earlier strandings

The women certainly weren’t the first – and probably won’t be the last – to be stranded at Seymour Tower. In May 1972, 22-year-old Denise Miles, who was holidaying in Jersey, was swept out to sea when she and her husband were trapped by the tide in a force nine gale. Likewise, in late December 1908, Auguste Ferrin was fetching gravel from around the tower and noticed just in time that he, too, was about to be overcome by the rising tide. He untied his horse from the cart it was towing and led it up the same steps the women climbed almost 80 years later. Like them, he found the tower’s door locked and spent the night sheltering on a narrow ledge with his horse.

It was the second time that year that a man gathering stone from the beach had been stranded there. Three months earlier, a carter had taken refuge on the same steps, but been unable to haul his horse out of the water, which had spent the night in the sea, swimming for its life. Needless to say, after they were both rescued, the animal was confined to its stable until it had recovered.


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