Thursday, 9 July 2015

Quakers in Jersey - Part 4

Something a bit different today. I came across this history buried on the Hampshire Quaker website (, and am reprinting it here because it is of historical interest and I would like to share it more widely.

This is the final section.

Quakers in Jersey - Part 4

Friends Meeting House built in 1872

For many years the Jersey Religious Society of Friends had met in a private house, near First Tower on the St. Aubin’s Road. They met at ten o'clock on a Sunday morning and in the evening at six in a room of the Literary and Scientific Institution.

In 1872, the Meeting House in Colomberie, a very simple one-storey building, was opened which was adequate for the small number of Quakers who attended.

Among those named were Joseph Walker and his family, a long time Quaker from England who was the founder of the Tea company on St. Aubin's Road. Also members were Francis Le Gresley, Daniel Olliver and Edward Voisin, a one time Constable of St. Lawrence and Secretary of the Jersey Anti compulsory Militia league, with his large family who probably emigrated to South Africa as his known address was given as Kingwilliams Town, South Africa, were amongst the first names to be recorded as worshippers in the new Meeting House.

The first Quaker marriage was celebrated in 1905 between Philippe Pallot and Mary Ann Picot, both of Trinity.

Visitors came and went and came again. Some well known English Friends were amongst the entries in the Visitors Book which is, unfortunately, the only surviving record of those early days. The Minute Books, which all Quaker Meetings were required to keep, disappeared during the second world war.

Occupation of Jersey in World War 2

The first world war came and went, but the second war closed down the Meeting House for at least four years. When the occupation of Jersey by the German forces began in 1940, a number of young Englishmen who had joined the Peace Pledge Union (Conscientious Objectors) had come over to the island to help to dig the potato harvest and help on the farms. Only one of them was a full member of The Religious Society of Friends, George Bradbury, but among their number was a young man named Jack Nutley from Leicester.

When he arrived in St. Helier he found the Meeting House being used only by the Theosophists. He approached the Armitage family who had been very active in the Society since about 1925, but as they were very old by this time, they declined to attend any meetings.

Jack received the key from a lady Theosophist and opened up the Meeting House where he and others continued to meet at eleven for an hour on Sunday mornings until deportation notices were sent out. "When all had gone," wrote Jack Nutley (those who were English were deported to Germany)" one of the Attenders, a dentist named Hardy, committed suicide."

The Meeting House was commandeered by the Germans as a store and the burial ground used to plant potatoes. Eventually, in 1956, having not been used for its designated purpose for 100 years, the burial plot was sold, the remains exhumed, and re-buried in a plot in La Croix cemetery Grouville, now marked with a headstone.

To the present, continuing work for peace

A few months before peace was declared in 1945 a young Jerseyman who had been studying law in England, Clifford du Feu, joined the Friends Ambulance Unit and spent two years, December 1944 until 1946 helping to alleviate the suffering during the last months of the war and its aftermath on the continent and in Germany itself.

When he returned to the island he helped to restore the Meeting House ready for a new beginning of Quakerism in Jersey. Ben Vesey of Southampton Monthly Meeting came over for the opening in May 1946. The first entry in the Visitors book after Ben Vesey's was of Clifford's young daughter Jeanne, aged five.

New members joined, and two returnees from Laufen, the prison camp in Germany, Vaughan Jelley and Bert Cobley, who married Jersey girls, eventually formally joined the Society having attended Quaker Meetings initiated by Jack Nutley in the camp.

One of the first, Gwen Gardner who was a long-standing member, came to Jersey from England to teach at the Ladies College. She joined The Quaker Refugee Relief Service (reference 32) in 1954 which helped to rehabilitate and find employment for those displaced persons still suffering from the ravages of a bitter war and nearly as bitter a peace in Germany and Austria.

Quakers were at the forefront of reconciliation between the victors and the vanquished with no distinction made between either side.

With this core of dedicated members, the Jersey Religious Society of Friends flourished and grew and the Meeting House was re-furbished in 1979 with the addition of a school room for the many children attending.

Sadly, Clifford du Feu died in 1997, but there is still a small but thriving group of Quakers on the island of Jersey to carry on Quaker work.

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