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.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

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

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sonja Latimer (18 months ago)
Excellent church for a break from busy town. Stop here for a break and reflection. Lots of history to explore.
Daniel Gladden (2 years ago)
Great parish church and you can eat your own food their
Émile Mimile (2 years ago)
Un havre de paix, idéal pour le recueillement
Anthony Le Boutillier (3 years ago)
For quiet reflection always clean tables and chairs for sitting outside and inside the church
Kerry Shaw (4 years ago)
Stunning church. My best friend got married here. The vicar was lovely too
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.