Originally known as Sancti Petri de Portu, many regard the Town Church as the Cathedral Church and the finest in the Channel Islands. The first mention of the church in official documents was in 1048 when it is thought to have been given to the Abbot of Marmoutier by William of Normandy. It is likely that the original building was made of wood. The current building was built over a 200 year period with the chancel completed in the 12th century and the chapel added in 1462. The church was completed in 1475. However restoration work was carried out to the spire in 1721. The bells were recast in 1736 and in 1913. The clock was installed in 1781. Up until 1886, the rows of pews went in various directions and at that time some re-alignment was undertaken.

A copy of the text of an order from Pope Sixtus IV granting neutrality to the island is displayed in the church. In 1414, the English Crown took over the church but interestingly the church paid tithes to the Bishop of Coutanches until 1548. Up until the middle 1700's, the Church was completely surrounded by street markets and houses. A stream ran past the Church and around the harbour near to Woolworths. A memorial to the famous islander Major General Sir Isaac Brock can be found inside the Church together with many other memorials.

In 2001, work started on repairing the 500 year old oak vaulted rafters in the roof, which are now rare in England and believed to be the last surviving of this type in the Channel Islands. The joints are now quite weak and are being strengthened with stainless steel plates on the ridges, but the beams themselves remain in good condition. They work the subject of public outcry when the church decided to replace the rafters in 2000, but the Ecclesiastical Court decided after taking expert advice, that the roof could be saved.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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www.islandlife.org

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Donny Brock (3 months ago)
I ring here and it is really friendly would definately recommend it
Richard De La Rue (5 months ago)
The Town Church of St Peter Port is a fine building in which its Christian ministry is shared by two excellent priests. The Church has a fine choir in the English cathedral tradition.
Terence Lee (11 months ago)
A really nice place very interesting and humble well worth the visit
Lisa Robins (2 years ago)
As a building, beautiful. I'm not religious but did pop in recently and it is gorgeous inside. Also beautiful outside, the gargoyle on one corner means that it is the closest church to a pub in the British Isles! Worth a visit if you are religious, like churches or thinking about the concept of God. Note for tourists, the taxi rank right outside is often not populated so be prepared for a little walk across Town or know a number to call if you want a taxi from there.
David (2 years ago)
A lovely church in a lovely location with lots of history and much of it displayed on the walls. It is cool on a hot day and when I found the quiet area to pray in I did feel a sense of calm which was a moment of relief to escape the commercial work outside the church. Well worth a visit!
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.