Tour de La Hougue

History and description

The tour de la Hougue was constructed in 1694, at the same time as the tour de Tatihou (see Tatihou file), during the war of the League of Augsburg. There was a need to protect the harbour of Saint-Vaast, which had come under attack following a French naval defeat in June 1692. The construction got underway on 11 June, 1694. The engineer De Combes applied plans which Vauban had drawn up. It was a truncated tower, 20 metres in height, (relative to the foundations), 16 metres in diameter at its base, walls 4 metres thick at the base and 2 metres at the terrace level, and a protruding added spiral staircase. The floors were vaulted, equipped with murder holes and at the top was an artillery platform with spaces for cannons. The spiral staircase was covered by a hemispherical dome-cap. The basement floors housed a cistern, food stores and a powder keg. To protect the entrance to the tower, a false bray preceded by a dry moat which could be crossed with a drawbridge completed the set. The gate included crenelations for firing and a stone deadfall trap. Three kilometres away from the tour de Tatihou constructed at the same time, the tour de la Hougue could engage in crossfire with the latter and prevent entry for the purpose of mooring.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, a bastioned rampart, including a front with two half-bastions on its land-facing flank was built in front of the tower.

Current state

The tour de la Hougue still stands, as well as the fortifications which surround it. It is owned by the Ministry of Defence, who also maintain a semaphore in the fort surrounding the tower. For some years, it has been open to visitors. The site, just like the nearby tour de Tatihou, is included on the World Heritage List as part of the fortifications of Vauban.

Tour de La Hougue

Tour de La Hougue
49° 34' 21.9738" N, -1° 16' 29.2174" E

coastal tower
Benjamin de Combes, Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban
  • FAUCHERRE (N.), LECUILLIER (G.), La route des fortifications en Bretagne Normandie, Paris, 2006.
  • LAGNEAU (J.-F.), Etude préalable à la restauration du fort de la Hougue, Paris, 1992.
  • FOURNIER (P.), « La forteresse de la Hougue » in Vauban et ses successeurs sur les côtes de la Manche, Paris 2003, p. 363-368.
  • LAGNEAU (J.-F.), Etude préalable à la restauration du fort de la Hougue, Paris, 1992.
  • THIN (E.), Quand l’ennemi venait de la mer, Saint-Lô, 1992.
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