Thursday, 6 December 2012

Coronation Musings in St Brelade

I've been reading "The Pilot", the magazine which ran for many years locally, which was the Church of England's monthly magazine in Jersey, with general articles, and also Parish Notes from most of the Parishes. This edition covered the period of the Coronation celebrations, and as the year draws to a close, it's interesting to see what they did then.

The extract here is from the Parish Notes of St Brelade, from the Reverend William Tabb (1946-1971), whom I remember from my youth! Back in the 1970s, shortly before his death, he had introduced the new "Series 3" Prayer book, in place of the Book of Common Prayer, which was quite an innovation for its time, using modern forms of English.

Pub quiz question: when did they first floodlight St Brelade's Church? You might be surprised in how early it was - it was the Coronation year, although this was only temporary and a few months, as the Parish notes below reveal.

The Parish notes also mention the "Mother's Union". It should be noted that St Mary is now the only Parish in Jersey which still has a Mothers Union. They've vanished from the other churches. The Mothers' Union is an international Christian charity that seeks to support families worldwide. It was founded by Mary Sumner in 1876 at the Parish Old Alresford, near Winchester, where her husband was rector. As Wikipedia notes, "Sumner wanted to bring mothers of all social classes together to provide support for one another and to be trained in motherhood, something which she saw as a vocation." It was very much an Empire movement in its early days, with an emphasis on morality and contending with social ills.

The Mothers Union today has changed considerable, and is now an international campaigning charity, particularly concerned with the plight of women in the world, its projects include literacy and development, parenting, micro finance and campaigning against violence against women and the trafficking of women. Most of the 4 million membership now lies in India and Africa. Membership in the UK and Jersey has declined.

Parish Notes - St Brelade

At the last sitting of the Ecclesiastical Court our church officers were sworn in. It is indeed a great joy to have the same officers sworn in year by year. Only those who are closely associated with the inner workings of parochial life in Jersey realize the great amount of work our Surveillants have to do, and especially is this so in the case of a large parish like ours. I am most grateful to these gentlemen for what they do week by week for the good of the church and our community.

The Mothers' Union held their annual picnic during June ; this event is always looked forward to with eagerness. On August 20th the Mothers' Union will be holding a Bring-and-Buy Sale in the Rectory Grounds. We hope to welcome a large crowd on this Thursday afternoon. Do come along, even if only for a cup of tea. This effort is on behalf of the Mothers' Union Banner Fund. The order has been placed for the banner.

How lovely the Church has looked during the Coronation, the floodlighting is most effective ; it has been suggested by a large number of people that we should continue this during the whole of the summer ; the cost, however, is prohibitive.

Our parish officials deserve the thanks of all the parishioners for the generous way in which the children and aged were entertained during the Coronation festivities. It will be long remembered by all.


If you wonder what a Surveillant is, it is an old Jersey term for Churchwarden. Balleine's list of "Some Jersey Terms and Phrases" notes the following, although do note that Churchwardens have not for many years been doing the rounds of pubs to search out miscreants! But it provides - as Balleine always does - a wonderful touch of colour. It's probably a good thing that the Dean recently oversaw revised Canons (Jersey Church Law), although there may be one or two churchwardens who would like a more "active" approach! Certainly, when the Reformation Consistory Courts were in place, woe betide you if you did not attend Church:

CHURCHWARDENS. Surveillants. Two Church officers in each parish appointed by the Ecclesiastical Assembly (if an election) is contested, the Rector has the right to nominate one) not only "to keep the Church in repair, and to see that all things appertaining to the ministration of the Word and Sacraments be provided", but also during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries "to search during Divine Service places suspected of gaming, taverns, and tippling-houses", and to present before the Ecclesiastical Court "all Papists, Heretics, and Schismatics, blasphemers, such as have recourse to wizards, incestuous persons, and drunkards' ' (Canons of 1623). The parochial poor-relief is still in the Churchwardens' hands, except in St. Helier's, where, since 1908, it is administered by a special Commission, on which however the Churchwardens have a seat ex officio.

On a personal note, one of the churchwardens mentioned in the Parish notes would have been my grandfather, H.G. Shepard, who died in 1968, and was churchwarden for many years. The JEP notes that:

He was elected as Churchwarden of St. Brelade's Parish Church in July 1936, succeeding the late Mr T.C. Pullinger. Of him yesterday, the Rector, the Rev. W.G. Tabb, said: "He was my senior warden. He was a most faithful servant of the church. Nothing was too much for him to do. Come fair weather or foul, he was always there every Sunday. Except when he was away from the Island, he never missed morning service on Sundays. He looked after the poor of the parish and was in charge of La Charite and will be greatly missed."

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