There is an abundance of interesting historic buildings on St Helena which you can explore.  In Jamestown alone, excluding the wharf, there are 18 Grade I Listed buildings, 51 Grade II and 61 Grade III…


St. Helena was always defended, ever since the Dutch invaded the island in the 17th century, but when it was decided to exile Napoleon Bonaparte here in 1815 the island’s defences were strengthened in case the French came to rescue him, with a garrison of 820 men stationed here. Many of the island’s historic forts date from this era.

High Knoll Fort, St Helena Island

High Knoll Fort from the air



was designed as a redoubt fort, originally built in 1799 as a circular tower. The tower was incorporated into the present structure when it was expanded by the Royal Engineers in 1874. For more detail see here →

Most of the other fortifications are readily accessible, though perhaps with a bit of a walk. Ladder Hill Fort, at the top of Jacob’s Ladder, is open in parts to the public. Mundens Battery is a short walk up from Jamestown, and an extension of this route leads to Banks Battery.

Lemon valley is a short boat ride from Jamestown (or quite a long walk from the centre of the island). The fortification of Lemon Valley started soon after the recapture of St. Helena from the Dutch in 1673. The site was also used for quarantine purposes for slaves from Madagascar infected with smallpox.

Prosperous Bay Signal Station is currently inaccessible due to the Airport development works.




The Castle is the main government building, located in Jamestown.

An original fortification, the Castle of St. John, was constructed by Governor John Dutton in 1659 as part of the East India Company fortifications of Jamestown, as the memorial stone (part of the current Castle wall) depicts:

In 1708 this structure was incorporated into the current building by Governor John Roberts. This, in turn, was largely reconstructed in the 1860s because of termite damage. It does not have the appearance of a typical castle.

Originally the residence of the Governor of St. Helena, it is today the location of many of the island’s administrative offices, including those of the Governor and the Chief Secretary. ExCo and LegCo meet in the Council Chamber on the top floor.

It is designated as a Grade I Listed building.

Entry is open to the public during office hours, as far as the foyer.




St. James’ Church is situated in Jamestown and is the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere. The present building was put up in 1774; this replaced an earlier building that had fallen into disrepair (the old building was sited where Nos. 1, 2 and 3 Main Street now stand). The church once possessed a spire, dating from 1843, but this became unsafe and was taken down in 1980.  St. James’ is designated as a Grade I listed building and is one of the Seven Wonders of St. Helena.

The current St Paul’s Cathedral replaced two earlier churches on the same site. Designed by distinguished London architect Benjamin Ferrey, it was completed in 1851 and held its first service on 3rd September. It became the cathedral church for St. Helena when the Diocese of St. Helena was established in 1859.

Most of the other churches in St. Helena date from Victorian times. Many now have metal roofs, as a result of termite action. Some have original stained glass windows.




A selection of other buildings on the island.