Thursday, 31 October 2013

History of Grouville Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 2)

Here is part two of the forgotten piece by G.R. Balleine on the history of Grouville Church, transcribed below. Balleine had a wonderful grasp of how to make historical narrative interesting, and peppers his history with interesting anecdotes.
History of Grouville Church by G.R. Balleine (Part 2)
While the battle of Jersey was being fought in the Town in 1781, the Company of the 83rd Regiment that was stationed at Grouville was attacking the rear-guard that the French had left at La Rocque. Seven grenadiers were killed in this little action, and the large slab of granite erected "to the memory of these brave men by the principal inhabitants of the parish" now stands in the corner of the churchyard.
In 1788 a gallery to hold fifteen pews was built at the west end of the church. Six of these were to be reserved for the choir; and in the following year the Parish Assembly congratulated the choir on the excellence of its singing. There was still no organ; but the singing was accompanied by a small orchestra, and in 1819 the Assembly authorised the purchase of two new clarinets.
In 1838 there was a big restoration. The whole Church was re-roofed with slate. All the old pews and paving were removed and the level of the floor was raised two feet above the original, owing to damp.
In 1843 further changes were made. An organ was bought and placed in the West gallery. At this time the West end of the Church was boarded in to hold the militia cannon; this was called the 'Arsenal'. Access to this was through a door made in the West wall, where the porch is now.
Above the arsenal was a room for Sunday School which was approached by a stone stair outside the West wall; the stone work still shows where the door was situated. In addition, there was a passage higher still, running the whole length of the Nave and leading to the door, above the belfry arch, which opened on to the ringing chamber. The bell is one of the finest in the Island and bears the inscription: "J'ai este faite fondre a Londres par les paroissiens de Grouville an 1768 je paze 14 cwt. I qr. 2 Ibs. Ch:de la Garde, Rector. Thos: Labey, Constable. Frances Marett, Jean Hooper, Survts. Lester & Pack of London, fecit".
In 1848 the stone stair up to the Sunday School was removed and a wooden one inside the Church, was substituted. At the East end two small windows, one on either side of the Altar, which had long been walled-up, were re-opened.
The foundation stone of the little Chapel of St Pierre de la Rocque was laid in 1852, when Abraham Le Sueur was Rector.
Since 1872, when the piscina on the south of the Altar was discovered, various alterations have taken place. The lighting system was changed from oil lamps to acetylene gas, then to coal gas and finally to electricity. The North Chapel has been restored to its original purpose and an Altar has been installed.
The floor of the Nave has been made solid with concrete-the old floor having become unsafe through damp and dry-rot-and covered with wood blocks. In addition pews of English oak have been substituted for the old ones.
The organ has been completely transformed, with one part being at the rear of the Nave and the other part in the South Chapel, thus ensuring an even flow of sound right through the Church. Finally an electric clock was installed in the belfry, much to the delight of the parishioners.
This was built to serve the fishing community which flourished in that part of the parish. There have not been any structural alterations since 1852, but the inside has been beautified by many gifts, especially during the last 15 years. These have included a carved oak 'eagle' Lectern, a Sanctuary Chair, and a Priest's Desk and Chair. It still serves a large and growing community in and around La Rocque.
In addition to the two places of worship already described there is another Chapel in the Parish of Grouville situated at La Hougue Bie. To be precise, there are two Chapels housed under the same roof! The very ancient heathen burial mound-thought by some to be the oldest in Europe-has been surmounted by a Christian place of worship ever since the 12th Century. The simple little Chapel was built in this Century in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, of Notre Dame de Lorette and St Michael. It was known by the beautiful name of the "Chapel de Notre Dame de la Clarte"-Our Lady' of the Dawn.
When the Société Jersiaise took over La Hougue Bie in 1924 in order to excavate the mound, the Chapels were gradually restored to their original use. A granite altar stone, with the five crosses inscribed, was removed from Gorey Castle and set up, and in 1931 the Chapel was reconciled by the Lord Bishop of Winchester. 
The Jerusalem Chapel was built on to the east of the earlier Chapel by Dean Richard Mabon, in 1538, in honour of the Passion of Our Lord. In addition he built a crypt as a replica of the Holy Sepulchre, underneath this Chapel, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In succeeding Centuries the Chapels were used for secular purposes and a high tower was built upon them; from the top of which it was possible to see almost the whole of Jersey on a clear day.
The Société Jersiaise has done good work in restoring these Chapels. Since 1931 the Holy Communion has been regularly celebrated in the larger Chapel on July 2nd, the anniversary of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in latter years, an open air service has been held as well.

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