St Helier's Church, known as the Town Church, is one of the 12 parish churches of Jersey. Helier was a Belgian saint who lived as a hermit on an islet in St Aubin's Bay, about three quarters of a mile off the south coast of Jersey. In AD 555 he was killed by pirates, beheaded by their leader who feared his men would be converted by Helier's preaching. In consequence Helier soon came to be venerated by the Islanders, and eventually was adopted as the Patron Saint of both Jersey and its capital.

Land reclamation means that the church, which was once on the shoreline, is now some way inland. There are iron rings in the boundary wall, which some historians suggest were used to moor boats, but the tide would only have reached here on the highest of spring tides and it is much more likely that the rings were used to tie cattle brought to market in town. The original marketplace was about 60 metres away next to a large rock which was surrounded by the sea at high spring tides.

It is believed that a chapel was erected on the site of the present building very shortly after Helier's death, but the present church was begun in the 11th century. The earliest record is in a document regarding the payment of tithes signed by William the Conqueror, which is assumed to pre-date the Norman Conquest of 1066. All that is visible of the 11th century structure are the remains of window arches on either side of the choir. The building was reconsecrated in 1341 for unknown reasons.

The church building was extended to roughly its present size by the end of the 12th century, but most of that building is also lost. The sections of wall flanking the east window, part of a pier on the north east side of the crossing, the west face of the north door and the adjoining section to the west, and a small section of wall opposite are all that remain of the building period of roughly 1175 to 1200. The porch attached to the north door and the greater part of the nave and crossing were built in the second quarter of the 15th century.The date of the chancel is impossible to determine, since the original walls have been obliterated by the north chapel on the one side and the south chapel on the other. Most of the north transept dates to the second quarter of the 13th century. The present south transept, vestry, and the westwards extension to the nave are largely Victorian. A major renovation and re-ordering of the church began in 2007, and will take several years.

A chapel, La Chapelle de la Madeleine, existed in the north west corner of the churchyard until the Reformation. Formerly the Rectory and church offices were on the north side of the churchyard. These were replaced in 1969 by a new Church House building, a large concrete edifice incorporating offices, a church hall, kitchens and a choir vestry, together with a flat. The Rectory was moved to a large, purpose built Georgian house in the early 19th century.

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Founded: 11th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Alan Brown (2 years ago)
We were made so welcome, even taken to parish harvest lunch after morning service and delivered back to our hotel afterwards. Such a wonderful experience of Christian brotherhood.
Alan Brown (2 years ago)
We were made so welcome, even taken to parish harvest lunch after morning service and delivered back to our hotel afterwards. Such a wonderful experience of Christian brotherhood.
paul t. (2 years ago)
Lovely place.will be great to find out who is the pianist. brilliant.
paul t. (2 years ago)
Lovely place.will be great to find out who is the pianist. brilliant.
may haines (2 years ago)
Beautiful stained glass windows, and the church's gardens are planted with fruit and vegetables that the public are free to consume.
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