Monday, 26 January 2015

Question Time in Jersey

Any questions?

Chief Minister Ian Gorst will be one of three politicians in the spotlight in the first of a new series of Question Time-style debates, beginning later this month.

The Chief Minister will join the assistant minister in charge of sport policy, St Brelade Constable Steve Pallett, and the States longest-serving Deputy, Judy Martin, at the event at St Brelade’s Parish Hall on Tuesday 27 January from 7.30 pm.

The event is being hosted by independent pressure group Change Jersey, who say that they want to get people engaging with politics and politicians on real issues.

Organiser James Rondel said: “We want to do this once a month, and we want it to be lively and engaging.

“The idea behind the sessions is to expose our politicians to some real questions from the public – we don’t want to get stuck into the same old issues and the same old faces, we want to get right into things that actually matter to people.”

The events will be held monthly, and Change Jersey want a mix of politicians and non-politicians at each one. The full line-up for the first event – which will be chaired by Bailiwick Express news editor Ben Queree, and for which the panel will also include at least two people who are not States Members – will be announced soon.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Restored Palimpsest of the 4th Century

A Restored Palimpsest of the 4th Century

In the days of the Emperor Constantine, there was once an Island called Quaqua, off the coast of Neustria. The people of Quaqua were fiercely independent, and one day, a priest called Clavis fell out with the Bishop of Dol

During this time, a monk called Fraxinus stirred up the people of Quaqua to seek to move from the Bishopric of Dol to that of Coutances, and there was a great conflict, and much anger fermented among the goodly Christians in Quaqua.

And there was no reconciliation, and so it was that Quaqua became part of the diocese of Coutance.

But having caused such unrest, and being unwilling to seek any reconciliation with Dol, the monk Fraxinus decided to take his leave to Cyrnacia, which was a troubled land, and seek to reconcile the peoples there.

And he told the people there to look at their own faults, and quoted the scripture which said:

“Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

And all this was noted by the historian Acutus Criticus, whose scribe annotated the margin of his manuscript, noting that it was truly strange that the monk Fraxinus had gone south to help a people find peace and reconciliation, when it was so wanting in his actions in Quaqua.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


Socks was the theme for the week in a Poetry group I belong to, so here is my contribution. Please note the photo above is by way of illustration, and those are neither my socks nor my feet! It was a chance to do a more humorous poem, and I hope you like it.


Never a matching pair, I exclaim
But who on earth should I blame?
It is Gremlins, said my Uncle Sam,
Ones who eat green eggs and ham;
A space warp swallows them said
My sister, searching beneath her bed
The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling says,
By a mysterious stranger, wearing Fez;
But go they do, one sock stays still:
The other vanished, for good or ill;
And so unmatched, all in a heap,
Should I throw out, or should I keep,
Perchance I find another pile?
I keep on hoping all the while!
Does God exist? a question bold
But I’d prefer to just be told
Where all my socks go every day,
And how they vanish swift away;
A quantum puzzle, like that cat
Schrödinger’s socks, I quite like that!
In the drawers, place a pair:
But look, and one is never there!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Street Names of St Helier – Part 1

This comes from The Pilot in October 1971, and I have been unable to find the author. The style, however, is very strongly that of G.R. Balleine, who died in 1966, and I wonder if this was a reprint of on old article or a print of an unpublished article. It is still very interesting.

Street Names of St Helier – Part 1
Has it ever occurred to you to ask how your street got its name? This is quite an interesting study. But, before we embark on it, just a word about the streets themselves.

If we could be transplanted back into the town, of say,1800,our first surprise would be its smallness. It was only a narrow strip of houses from Snow Hill to Charing Cross with a bulge at the Charing Cross end embracing Hue Street and Old Street on one side and Scale Street and Sand Street on the other. And this bulge was comparatively new, for the two oldest houses in Hue Street bear the dates 1756 and 1767.

In breadth the town merely stretched from Hill Street to Hilgrove Street and from Broad Street to King Street. The back windows on the north side of King Street and Hilgrove Street looked out over green fields, the back windows on the south side of Broad Street over sand-dunes to the sea.

Our second surprise would be the extreme narrowness of the streets. King Street, Queen Street, Hill Street and Library Place were Chemins de huit pieds, eight feet across from house to house, while others half that breadth., Chemins de quatre pieds, like Bond Street.

The third surprise would be the number of streams you had to cross on planks. All the valleys and hills that surround the town pour streams down into the plain, and these have to find their way to the sea. Today they flow underground through sewers, but then they flowed on the surface. There was a water-mill in Bond Street and another in Dumaresq Street. Innumerable rivulets ran down the streets, and the planks that crossed them were familiar direction-points.

Advertisements in the early "Gazettes" constantly describe houses as being near the Planque Billot or the Planque Godel. I will not pretend that St Helier was then a northern Venice, but it was certainly a town of running waters.

I have spoken of the streets by their modern English names; but in 1800 all the street names were, of course, French. The Royal Square was le Marche. The old name of Church Street must have begun as a joke; but it became official. A stream ran down the middle of the road, and apparently there was no plank; so ladies wishing to cross to church had to tuck up their skirts and jump. Hence someone named the street Rue Trousse Cotillon (Tuck-up-your-petticoat Street), and the name stuck. It is found in Acts of the Visite des Chemins and in contracts passed by the Court.

A more recent example of a joke-name that nearly became official is Crackankle Lane (a gorgeous inspiration), which, till the College was built, was the name for College Hill.

It is a pity that Bond Street lost its pretty name of la Rue de la Madeleine, which preserved the memory of the mediaeval Chapel of St Mary Magdalen, which was only pulled down in the eighteenth century. The old name of Broad Street was the Rue d Egypte (Egypt Street). I cannot imagine why. Nor can I suggest why La Chasse was for time called the Rue de Madegascar. (La Chasse, by the way, has nothing to do with hunting, but is an old Norman-French word for a small by-way.) Hill Street was at first the Rue des Forges.

In 1674 an Act of the Court forbad the inhabitants of the Rue des Forges to throw their soapsuds into the brook, as this defiled their neighbours' drinking water. But later, from a tavern where the lawyers dined, it became known as the Rue des Trois Pigeons. Queen Street was the Rite as Porcqs. This had nothing to do with pigs. The Le Porcq family owned the land on which the street was built.

King Street was the Rue de Derriere (Backdoor Street), because at first it contained only the backyard gates of the houses in Broad Street and the Square. St Peter Port still has its Back Street; and one of the best known walks in Cambridge is called The Backs. Dumaresq Street and Le Geyt Street were spoken of as es Hemies. Hemie is Jersey-French for a five-barred gate; so these no doubt were private roads shut off by gates.

The country lanes round the town all had their French names, which they retained when they were built upon. St Clement's Road was the Rue es Ronces (Blackberry Bushes Road). Regent Road was the Rue de Froid Vent (Cold Wind Street).

Roseville Street was the Rue de Long Bouet I am not sure what this means, though St Peter Port has two streets called Le Bouet and Le Grand Bouet, and there is a valley in Alderney called Le Bouet. As Roseville Street runs through low-lying land, it may have some connection with boue, mud.

Vauxhall was the Rue de la Dame. At its David Place end there was a field known as the Piece de la Dame with a well in a grove known as the Puit de la Dame. This was haunted ground. A white lady walked here at night. de la Croix wrote: "Concerning the Piece de la Dame there exist a thousand superstitious stories of apparitions; nevertheless the mothers of the town go there (by day, be it understood, for by night they would not dare to approach it) to wash their garments and hang them up on the quickset hedge to dry."

Val Plaisant is a mystery. It may have been pleasant, before the houses were built; but it can never have been a valley. David Place is nowhere more than a.few feet higher than Val Plaisant, and on its other side the ground slopes downward to the sea. Can Val in old Norman French have had some different meaning.? This is the case with Rouge Bouillon, which has nothing to do with either broth or boiling. Bouillon in Norman-French means a marsh. It is found all over the Island. St Brelade's has a marshy field called Le Bouillon. There is a Clos de Bouillon at St Ouen's, and another at St John's, and a Trinity farm called Les Bouillons. Guernsey, too, has a district called Bouillon and a Rue du Bouillon at St Peter Port. The stream which flows down Queen's Road formed a marsh or bouillon at the bottom and the oxide of iron that was carried down from the clay higher up gave the mud a reddish colour.

In Elizabeth's reign this district was known as the contree du Rouge Bouillon, the land of the Red Marsh.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Some Jersey Eccentrics

Some Jersey Eccentrics

This is the peculiar house of Bob Bisson, which was painted with all kind of religious slogans. In this blog, I want to celebrate people’s memories of Bob, and other Jersey eccentrics. Bob I actually met, but some of the others, like Berger and his mummified mother, I had only heard of from others.

My own anecdote about Bob is him parading in the Royal Square when the States were sitting with a placard which stated “Con men in session”!

There’s a kind of oral tradition that goes around regarding these people, and it seemed a shame that it should be lost, so I have put some of the comments relating to that photo on Facebook, to preserve them for posterity. All identification of commentators has been removed.

Jersey Eccentrics – Some Comments

Bob Bisson

Mr Bisson’s house may he rest in peace ,,he was a god man ...he kept painting these versus around his house and when they cleaned it up he did it all over again is now gone and new houses there.

It was jersey's blot on the landscape!

True but was his property to do as he crazy as it seemed!

Dear old Bob Bisson. A strange Jersey eccentric if ever there was. Quoted from the King James Bible, regularly attended (as a viewer) the Magistrate's court. We don't have many eccentrics like him (and Berger) around anymore.

Not a blot, this guy was a true eccentric! I saw him on the bus most days, life needs people like him! Didn't do any harm

Kind of miss seeing that place, was so interesting, unlike today’s buildings

Yes I used to work for a stockbrokers and he often used to come in. I think he used to dabble with the Stock Market. As you say quite harmless

I met this guy in the Royal Square and he told me to give up smoking as it was slow motion suicide and I did

I remember Robert Bisson too, eccentric but kindly. He had very blue eyes I was a bit in awe of him as a child, admire him now for his honesty.

I sat next to him once on an Aurigny flight and ended up giving him a lift back to this place, he usually walked everywhere, but it was raining heavily.

Sandals whatever the weather !

I had forgotten the sandals remember now bless him

Robert Chalmers Bisson. We lived just down the road from him in our early married life but he always stopped and spoke to us and our children. Just a bit eccentric but harmless!

He was an oft viewed figure as far as I know. He sat next to me on the bus once when I was on the way home from school and started to talk about Jesus, not knowing I was already a pretty convinced atheist. I have to say he seemed a nice enough chap though.

Robert Chalmers Bisson, the house has been known as The White Lodge and The Retreat.

I seem to remember he had quite an upper crust voice, sounded educated which I'm sure he was.

The house was semi detached.. 20 years ago we were shown the other half of the property joined on behind it , looking to rent / buy..

What was weird is that the house had a basement, you went down the stairs & the basement was an old church, like a full on church under the house.. The church was split in 2 with a wall separating the properties, but needless to say it was obvious that he had the other half of the church on his side, so as much as it seems like one of his eccentricities, I’m sure it goes a little deeper in to why he wrote all that stuff.. It was a little creepy to be honest, so we politely declined. I'm sure most didn't realise he had a chapel in his basement & that the whole thing was built on a church. ?

He had a Canadian accent.

I think he was originally from Canada, either that or he lived in Canada for a long time.

This was owned by Mr. Robert Charmers Bisson who was a bit of a religious fanatic as can be seen by the biblical verses quite a rich Canadian but very articulate.......

I like him. He was a little strange but nice enough, he used to walk down to the beach with two buckets and fill them up with seaweed for his vegetable garden.

I knew this man very well, in fact had a tea chest full of bibles from him, eccentric but heart of gold

He was known as Barmy Bisson and used to cycle around the island wearing a raincoat with biblical quotations painted on the back.... also I believe a brilliant chess player

He also was a grand master at chess

A wonderful character with a zest for life, totally harmless apart from his booming voice, he spoke to me several times about beliefs and stuff a genuine 42 carat character the world is a less richer place without him what do you see driving up Mont Cochon nothing bland bland and more bland I miss the old chap he was very wealthy I’m lead to believe and was harmless if he’d of ever done anything as folk have said I’m sure he would of been dealt with just an eccentric and very kind man by all accounts

I seem to remember something many years ago, when his neighbours complained about his house being an eyesore, and covered in writing, in response, he wrote the word 'fool' ( or was it 'fools?) on the previously-pristine chimney stack!

I believe he was Canadian by birth. My favourite saying was that he liked to feed the pigeons in the Royal Square, so they would shit on the politicians.

The house was demolished a good few years ago now and a few new houses built on the site.

Certainly beats conventional decorating of the front of your house!!.....remember this well, even blue coaches used to take tourists to see it!!

He was very intelligent. We gave him a lift to church once. Had Canadian links if I remember rightly and often wore a shirt with red stains on it!

I had a friend who lived next door and would play chess with him.

Me and my mate were digging bate at west park in the mid 70s, it was summer, and we were kids, following the tide out as the sun started to rise, about 5am, he came wading out of the sea in front of us, scared the c***p out of us, he'd been sitting on the rock with the pole on it, to the right of Elisabeth Castle, all night reading his bible and waiting for the tide to go out again, I told my dad when I got home, he just laughed and said, "that’s old man Bisson, he won’t harm you". A talking point amongst us kids for quite a while after lol!!

I remember him getting on the bus, always in a long beige raincoat, and he would just start randomly taking to no one in particular !!

Does anyone remember when Mr Bisson was given a court order to re-paint his house as it was such an eye-sore? He obeyed the letter of the law by carefully refreshing all the writing with a new coat of paint. Hence the word 'fools'!

The states wanted him out for years and couldn't make him move, in the end they committed him, took his house and money.

Berger, Hawkins and Paisnel

Somebody on this stream mentioned old Mr Berger, eccentric maybe but I believe there was a connection between Berger and Florence Hawkins, mistress of Edward Paisnel

Wasn't Mr Berger the one who used to take his mother for a Sunday afternoon drive every week in a Rolls Royce, and continued to do so months after she had died? Was always fascinated by the story as a kid. Was it really true? Also was there a connection with Berger paint?

Florence Hawkins lived at the side of Berger's house in Savile Street. I think there must have been a flat there. Paisnel used to park his car in the car park in Elizabeth Lane when he visited her. We lived in Parade Road in the house on the corner of the lane. There were rumours that Berger & Paisnel were involved in some form of devil worship, I don't know if there was any truth in it. I know Paisnel had some kind of concealed area at his place at Boulivot that the police discovered.

Mr. Berger owned a lovely old house in Waterworks valley before it burnt down, as a kid I used to play in the burnt out ruins with friends

Is that the house, about halfway up Waterworks Valley on the left, that's burnt down more than once and is reputed to be haunted?

Seem to remember Mr Berger had a house on the Parade that backed onto Savile St....more or less where Health and Social now have offices....and used to hang a skeleton in one of the back windows...believe he was connected to Berger's Paints

Ahh yes, Westaway Court is on the site of the former Westaway Crèche that I am pretty sure was acquired from a Mr Berger who loved books & had them everywhere. Used his staircase as a bookcase! Hadn't realised until now that it was the same guy! I thought Berger who drove around with a corpse in the passenger seat was from Rozel?

I once took a misdialled phone call from Florence Hawkins wherein she asked to speak to Mr Berger about the time that Paisnel was on trial...she'd misdialled by one digit...and I recall wondering whether or not the police were aware of these connections....believe there may also have been a connection to a house at Leoville that had a dark painted ceiling with stars painted on it ??

Yes it was, it was a fantastic place to run about in. It was indeed supposed to be haunted and we used to frighten each other making noises.

Any more info on this Mr. Berger? The story sounds fascinating!

Yes Mr. Berger used to take "mummy" out for a drive

Was he not one by the police for this? It's illegal to prevent a burial. Was she embalmed? What happened to them? What's the story? X

I know of a few people who witnessed Berger's Sunday drives, it happened

Other Odd People

Does anyone remember the two brothers that use to walk round St Helier >>one was called bobby they both wore flat caps?? And then there was the guy us kids use to call Windy Miller' because he always walked like he was walking into a force 10 gale..And then there was' Archie’ who was always sat on the benches in St Helier' he was famous’ for a certain thing!

Yes best leave Archie well Don’t remember shaky George or Mary'' maybe I was too young at the time' like you say very sad..When you think about it..

Archie was given a two wheeled truck by the dockers , he used to go around the agricultural stores where he was given vegetables which he sold to the public...The dockers also used to buy him a new suit every year and send him to the murattie in Guernsey......

I remember buying veg off Archie great old character

There were two strange ladies. One of them, Francis Heuze was sectioned as she was desperately mentally ill. The other lady is still around.

Oh and shakes George was a mad alcoholic - believe it or not, he dried out quite a few years ago!

The veg that Archie used to sell was mostly borrowed on the basis of 'non return' from farmers lorries waiting for the weighbridge or for unloading at one of the packing stores. There was a George who used to hop about and kick out who was reputed to have been 'shell shocked in the First World War. Another ex first WWI soldier used to play records from a cart outside Woolworth's in the 40's and early 50's.

Then there was old Lemuel who always carried an imaginary butterfly in his hands

I remember Lemuel from the Sacre Cour he was an odd job man always talking to his hand.

Anyone remember the chap that owned Jumbo's Joke Shop in New Street, where the Charity shops are now? I remember thinking as a kid that considering he worked in a joke shop, he was probably the most miserable bloke I'd ever met!

I remember when it caught fire - a stray firework I believe?

Also remember a big man called Ken I think, had deformed hands and pushed a homemade hand cart around collecting people's empty pop bottles to reclaim the deposit...also played a mean harmonica

I remember George Le Sueur who used to kick his legs out. He had lots of white hair. They say he used to do the goosestep behind the German soldiers and got away with it as they thought he was mad.

Archie was Archie Nolan

Anyone remember "Welsh Casey", he put a Christmas tree on the transmitter at Les Platons, the police wouldn't go up and get him, instead waited for him to sober up and come down. He was a true character often seen in the Finsbury and the Great Western

He was a good mate of my dad's and I used to go around with his three daughters who are no longer with us. Casey was always the "life and soul" of any pub he went into. Shame these old pubs no longer exist. Harry the manager of the Finsbury was always barring him 'till the next day

You can’t make it up sadly the characters in life are thinning out and there is a conspicuous lack of replacements.

On the subject of characters does anyone remember the chap who used to walk down New Street in an overcoat and his brief case in the middle of the road, or the flap cap twins (got a photo of the two of them standing in front of the Foots dog and gramophone or Mr Bird the Baker. Haven’t been home in 11 years but I'm guessing there aren't too many characters like those guys anymore

That was George Le Sueur. I remember him well, along with the short twins and their caps.

I remember the chap your on about, he used to walk in front of the traffic with his brief case n brolly in the early 80s, very slowly, sumat t do with him hating cars/traffic someone once told me, don’t know what the full story is though!!?

The guy who walked in the traffic, I believe, had a wife who was knocked down by a car and it was his little protest. He was always very smart but had long since worked.

That would make sense, I was working in the market in 83/4 and I remember him turning and whacking his brolly on the bonnet of Ken Jesty's delivery van that had beeped him to get out the way, but most people just seemed to accept it, suppose they must have known the story!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Shape of Things to Come

Geoff Southern is bringing a proposition to nullify the Ministerial Decision by Susie Pinel which to extended the qualifying period for unfair dismissal complaints from 6 months to one year.

By the time this blog goes out, he will almost certainly have lost the vote, but the matter is important to consider because of what else it tells us about how Ministerial government works, and how it is shaped more by perception that fact.

Whatever one may think of the merits of a shorter period, and I am undecided on that myself, it is noteworthy that he quotes the Employment Forum as one of his arguments:

“The Forum has found no evidence that a longer qualifying period would have a positive impact on employment and job opportunities. The Forum considered whether the consultation revealed any other reasons that might support a longer qualifying period. The Forum has concluded that the potentially detrimental impact of a longer qualifying period outweighs the potentially positive factors to such an extent that the Forum cannot recommend a longer qualifying period. The Forum recommends by way of a majority decision that the qualifying period for protection against unfair dismissal should remain at 26 weeks.”

He asks the very pertinent question –

“The body tasked with the duty to advise the minister and the States on employment issues has clearly decided against the decision of the current Minister. One has to ask what has changed so significantly over the past 18 months to justify the Minister’s contrary decision.”

In other words, why bother with an employment forum if you are simply going to toss their reports into the waste paper basket?

In her comments, Susie Pinel says that:

“Employers and their representatives had expressed clear concerns that Jersey’s 26 week qualifying period was a significant factor in preventing or discouraging them from taking on more staff. While it is not possible to quantify the significance of the qualifying period in recruitment decisions, this perception nevertheless exists. Lifting this restriction is expected to boost employers’ confidence.”

That’s fine as far as it goes – provided that some kind of mechanisms are in place to quantify if changing the period will boost recruitment, and long term recruitment, rather than simply taking on staff on a temporary basis for under a year.

Retail outlets probably have a fairly consistent pattern of sales, but service companies – electricians, plumbers, carpenters, builders, etc may well have fluctuating demands on employment, and while this may enable them to take on more staff for a short term, they may well find that it is advantageous when planning short term projects to take on staff, and let them go in slack periods.

Of course, any work for someone unemployed has to be good, but the patterns of recruitment and dismissals should be carefully monitored to see exactly what are the unintended consequences of this change. There seems to be no provision for this.

The Minister’s reply stated that:

“While the Forum found no direct evidence that a longer qualifying period would make a difference to job opportunities, it also found no direct evidence that it would not make a difference, or that 26 weeks is the correct qualifying period.”

So the change is being made on the basis of employers’ perceptions, and comparison with other jurisdictions, and the Minister’s point is a valid one. But it highlights the problem in the lack of data. How do we know that the Minister’s change will make a difference, and one for the better? The same lack of evidence that allowed her to circumvent the forum would surely also apply.

And why having quoted with approval the Chief Minister that “In order to remain aligned to our competitors I will propose pilot exemptions to the Employment Law for small business starting with an extension to the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims.” – she then goes ahead with a blanket change, not one helpful to small businesses?

It is noteworthy that other jurisdictions have no trouble with this kind of distinction. For instance, the Fair Work Act in Australia defines the minimum period to be 6 months at the time of the dismissal, unless the employer is a small business employer, in which case a 12 month qualifying period applies. If the argument is that 12 months applies in other jurisdictions, which is cited with approval, should we adopt a pick-n-mix attitude, or look at other aspects of their legislation?

But probably the most significant part of the reply by the Minister is encapsulated in the following paragraph:

“The report accompanying the Proposition states that to bring this: “by order rather than by regulation is a deliberate attempt by the Minister to avoid debate”. The change was made by Order because the Employment (Jersey) Law 2003, as adopted by the Assembly in 2003, gives the Minister the power to prescribe a different qualifying period by Order. This structure is how we ensure that legislative matters are dealt with quickly and efficiently, with 140 Ministerial Orders made in 2014.”

The way in which legislation is now framed is increasingly designed so that changes can be made by Ministerial decision, without recourse to the States Assembly. A framework is put in place, and orders can be taken by Ministerial decision to widen the scope of the legislation and put flesh on the bare bones.

It is true that it does ensure that legislative matters can be dealt with quickly and efficiently, but it also provides an avenue for by-passing the democratic accountability of bringing the matter to the States. Of course a States member can bring a motion to rescind a decision, but it is much harder to roll back a decision made than for a Minister to have to win the Assembly over with a proposition.

When it was just a small track, this was perhaps not so important, but now Ministerial decisions have become more of a large highway. They are quick, efficient – and lack accountability.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Founding of St James Church

St James, 1829

St James was built on the east side of town. The Garrison at Fort Regent regularly attended Church Parade here, and the Regimental Band would often play after the service. The church has now become a venue for arts events.

In 1983, the vicar at St James, the Reverend Jeffrey Hollis, began adding to his Pilot notes extracts from the records relating to the building of the church.

It is fascinating to see, one the one hand, how the pews were divided up, to rent out, or for personal use, and I rather suspect that those pews freely available to the public were at the back.

The mercenary nature of the rationale for building the church is also interesting. The population of St Helier had grown, and existing Anglican churches could not accommodate all their members, hence there was a fear that they might go elsewhere – to “dissenter” chapels, such as the Methodists. It was the same kind of reasoning which led to the building of the Anglican chapel at La Rocque, to keep the fishermen there in the fold. It is an attitude which modern sensibilities may find sits badly with spiritual aims.

I’ve compiled all the history into one document, but Reverend Hollis originally had it split up over four months.

St James Church - History of its Foundation
by Jeffrey Hollis

My Dear Friends,

Each month I thought it might be a good idea to tell you a little of the history of St James Church.

In the record book of St James Chapel, as it was then called, we read the following: - "1826. June 3. A meeting was this day held, William Le Breton Esq. in chair, for the purpose of taking into consideration the necessity of erecting a Chapel for the performance of divine worship, according to the liturgy of the Church of England; the undersigned unanimously approved of the measure, and consented and agreed, to the following Twelve Resolutions, provided each Subscriber to one Share or Twenty Sittings, shall not be called upon to pay more than One Hundred Pounds, British Sterling, for his proportion of the cost and expense of the building of said Chapel according to the plan proposed. 1st. Resolved -

That the under Subscribers engage to build a Chapel, within the Parish of St Helier, for the exclusive performance of Divine Service, according to the form and order of the United Church of England and Ireland, either in English or French, or in both languages, as soon as permission can be obtained from the Diocesan.

2nd. Resolved - That Baptism, Matrimony, Churching of Women, and the Burial of the Dead, shall not be administered, solemnized or performed, in the said Chapel, which Offices shall be left, as are in fact acknowledged exclusive privileges of the Parish Church.

3rd. Resolved - That the right property and patronage of the said Chapel, shall be invested, and belong to the original Subscribers, or Founders and to their Heirs or assigns for over, whose number shall be limited to Thirty-One.

4th. Resolved - That the Founders shall elect and appoint by secret Ballot, either in person or by proxy the Chaplain, Clerk and Organist and other inferior officers of the said Chapel.

5th. Resolved - That the Chaplain shall hold his situation quamdiu se bene gesserit or during the space of Five years, when the period of his term shall cease - There shall be a new election and the former Chaplain may be re-elected, and continue for five years longer, and so on at every future election.

6th. Resolved - That the Chaplain shall be remunerated for his exertions by a certain allotment of Pews as hereafter stated."

7th. Resolved - That on the same principle of remuneration the Clerk, Organist, etc. shall have in the same manner, a proportionate number of Pews, allotted to each, which they may respectively let, or the Subscribers for them..

8th. Resolved - That One Hundred and Sixty free Sittings shall be appropriated to the sole use of the Public, during Divine Service.

9th. Resolved - That the Rector for the time being, shall always be entitled to the benefit of Fifty Sittings, which he shall have the liberty to let.

10th. Resolved - That the Founders shall draw respectively by Lot for the best Pews, and each to select his own particular Pew, and only one Pew.

11th. -Resolved - That after the selection shall have been made, the remaining sittings to. be allotted thus - Viz. To the Chaplain, 150; Clerk, 25 ; Organist, 30; Beadle, 10; Incumbent of St Helier, 50; 265 Founders, 265 =530 total, said Five Hundred and Thirty Sittings to be allotted in a fair and equitable manner, in proportion to the number of each.

12th. Resolved - That the further remainder of Pews shall be equally divided by the Founders, with the exception of four, marked No. 1,2,3,4. which will be sold for the benefit of the Chapel."

There then follows the list of the founders, which .was to be limited to thirty-one, each with one share. The total number of Sittings was 1,205.

Founders as inserted in the Contract were - Sir Thomas Le Breton; James Hemery; Philip Raoul Lempriere; Thomas Le Breton; William Le Breton; James Robin; Clement Hemery; Francis Janvrin; James Hammond; John De Veulle Jun,; Matthew Amiraux; Charles Pipon; John Callas; Clement Le Breton; Francis Godfray; John Matthews Jun.; Hugh Godfray Jun.; John Benest; Francis Bertram; John Lewis Janvrin; Lewis Poignand Jun_; Philip Godfray; Isaac Hilgrove Gosset; William Le Brocq; Philip Le Gallais; Robert Brown.

Now we see what action they took in preparing for the building of what was to become the Island's Anglican church with the largest seating capacity.

On June 3rd, 1826, the following Subscribers were requested to act as a committee to select "a proper spot for the erection of the said chapel, and to ascertain the cost thereof, and to report the same to the general meeting of subscribers. William Le Breton; John Matthews Jun.; Francis Bertram; Francis Janvrin; Lewis Poignand Jun."

On June 8th, 1826, the committee reported to the Subscribers that they had received an offer of a plot of land at La Motte from Thomas Le Breton Esq. Amongst other conditions, such as not opening any windows on the south side of his house, the said Thomas Le Breton agreed to widen the public highway by ten feet. The total cost of the plot and the road widening was "Four hundred and twenty-five Louis."

On June 28th,1826, the Subscribers "unanimously approved of that which the committee have selected, as also of the terms and conditions in their report. They have in consequence directed that a contract shall be immediately prepared, and passed in the usual forms agreeable thereto as soon as permission can be obtained from the Diocesan, for the establishment of the said Chapel, according to the resolutions entered into on the 3rd inst, copy of which Resolutions, together with the following petition to the Diocesan, they have requested the Very Rev the Dean to transmit together with the plan of the proposed Chapel, and to request the Dean be pleased at the same time to give his support to the said Petition."

The Petition to the Diocesan was sent on July 31st setting out the reasons for the erection of the Chapel. "The population of the Town and Parish consists at present of upwards of 12,000 souls and is in a state of rapid increase. The Parish Church and St Paul's Chapel, the only places where Divine Service is performed according to the forms of our Liturgy, cannot accommodate one quarter past of this population. Therefore with the best disposition to attend the service of the Church, many persons from the present want of sufficient room in the existing places of worship and are obliged to repair to conventicles of dissenting houses, amounting already to seven in number, besides those now erecting."

As we continue the story of the history of St James' Church we find that the Bishop's Licence for the building of the church was "given under our Episcopal Seal this fourteenth day of August in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six, and in the seventh year of our Translation."

It was received by the Founders on August 21st. They then "examined and approved of the Contract for the purchase of the ground, and have fixed on next Saturday, the 26th inst., for passing the same in the usual form."

A committee was elected to "examine plans prepared by Mr Way and to obtain the opinion of professional men on the said plan," and on October 21st the order for "foundations five or six feet thick to be laid as soon as possible" was given.

The founders having decided that the ceremony of laying the foundation stone should take place on the First Day of January, 1827, "accordingly met at No 1, The Terrace, together with the Very Reverend Corbet Hue, D.D., Dean, Sir Thomas Le Breton Bailly, Philip Marett, Esq., Lieutenant Bailly, the Jurats of the Royal Court, the Reverend the Rectors, Thomas Le Breton, Esq., King's Procureur, John W. Dupre, Esq., King's Advocate, Philip Le Gallais, Esq., Depute Viscomte, and Francis Godfray, Esq., Greffier of the Royal Court, and proceeded in procession to the spot marked out for the erection, where the principal inhabitants and an immense concourse of People had assembled to assist at the Ceremony.

Sir Colin Halkett, K.C.B., the Lieutenant-Governor, who was unable to attend, had ordered a Guard of Honour on the Ground. On the approach of the procession, the Band of the Town Regiment played "God Save the King". The Ceremony commenced by singing the 84th Psalm.

A Brass Plate, on which was inscribed the Names of the Authorities of the Island was placed over a cavity in a stone containing different Gold and Silver coins. The stone was then lowered and adjusted. James Hemery, Esq, who had been requested by the Founders to perform the Ceremony, struck the stone three times with a mallet repeating "May God prosper this our Work." The other founders having individually performed the same ceremony, the Very Rev the Dean offered up a Prayer, after which the 100th Psalm was sung, followed by the Benediction.

The Ceremony was concluded with the National Anthem by the Town Band.