Friday, 18 December 2015

Guide Book: St. Ouen.

Continuing through the 1830s Guide Book to Jersey, we look at Ouen, where there is plenty to see.

This is St Ouen's before the restoration of the Church. Canon Clement carried out great restoration was between 1865 and 1870. Balleine notes that:

"The unsightly galleries were swept away. The militia cannon were ejected from the home that they had occupied for centuries at the end of the south aisle. After long and intricate negotiations, that tested to the uttermost the Rector's tact and patience, the owners of the clutter of horse-box pews scattered higgledy-piggledy through the building consented to a uniform and orderly system of seating. The chancel was vaulted and lengthened eight feet. A new organ was provided. "

"When the work was started, the estimated cost was £700, but the final bill was £5,000, towards which the parish voted £2,000, and the rest was raised by voluntary subscriptions. In addition to this, private donors gave a new pulpit, font, and lectern, and filled the windows with stained glass. "

"The lengthening of the chancel had one unexpected result. As the altar now stood on unconsecrated ground, the Bishop's lawyers decreed that the whole church must be reconsecrated, and this was done by Bishop Wilberforce on 5th August, 1870. "

Guide Book: St. Ouen.
St. Ouen's.—this parish contains a population of one thousand nine hundred and sixteen persons. It occupies nearly one half of the Western coast, and is the largest parish in the Island. Within its district a considerable quantity of corn is grown.

The Church was consecrated on the fourth of September, 1180, and is situated in a lonely part of the parish, and appears as if sunk into the earth, as the principal entrance goes down two steps, and the door case is remarkably low. The only way of accounting for so unusual a circumstance is, by supposing the ground about the church to have been raised. The same winds that buried Les Quennevais in sand may perhaps have been the cause. The church has a very low spire; but there is not anything respecting this edifice worth particularizing, and yet,

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre.

But knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill .penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of their soul.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life.
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

St. Ouen's Bay.—This inlet sweeps from L’Etacq to the Southward of La Rocco, a tower erected on a rock, about half a mile below high water mark, though dry as the tide recedes; it is, however, at times, nearly inaccessible for several weeks, from the violent surf that breaks over the rough surface of low rocks, and that roars along the whole extent of this too frequently dangerous coast. In one part, and in only one, is a beautiful beach, free from the generally rugged character of this boisterous shore.

Who happy treads that desert bay below
Where ends the copse of yore. Fairer scenes
Than those that lie beneath the raptured eye,
This green isle knows not: ever varied, too.
Is the rich prospect ; vallies softly sink
And uplands swell, no level sameness tires;
While in the distance, happily disposed
Sweeps round the bold blue sea.

Part, if not the whole, of this extensive bay was once a fertile valley, in which grew a forest of stately oaks. Not possessing, like the Northern coast, a barrier of lofty rocks, a sudden eruption of the sea inundated the vale, or a portion of it. A breach once effected, it soon became wider: by degrees the waves stripped off the rich soil, and laid its sylvan honours prostrate. These were, doubtless, in the first instance, the effects of a tremendous storm from the Westward, to which point of the compass the whole bay is completely exposed; and, most probably, a succession of wintry gales completed the devastation.

The former existence of a wood is sufficiently evident. After violent storms the flat rocks are frequently bared: at these times, many trunks of trees are discovered, chiefly near low water mark. Those stumps still cling to the rocks by their roots that pierce the clefts. The length of one trunk was, when found, fifteen feet in the main stem, and it measured from nine to ten feet in the girt: it then spread into two branches, each of nearly the same length and substance as the stem itself. The remains of stone buildings are also sometimes disclosed. There is likewise a bed of peat in the bay; but over it the waves frequently deposit a covering of sand; it is, therefore, only occasionally visible.
Near this spot is St. Ouen's pond of fresh water, being a portion of large open meadows, overflowed by the junction of several rivulets, thus forming a lake, in which there is good fishing; part of this pond being reedy, affords shelter, during the winter season, to a considerable quantity of wild fowl.
In one of the meadows near the pond, are three large blocks of stone; doubtless, the remains of a Celtic monument, Two of them are erect; the other block lies on the ground, and is, apparently, only part of what it originally was: the end supposed to have been broken off, exhibits the appearance of a recent fracture.
Grosnez.— From St. Ouen's bay, we pass by L'Etacq to Grosnez, which constitutes the North-Western boundary tit Jersey; and, like other parts of the Northern line, its coast, notwithstanding a bluff appearance, is bristled with angular points. No other way leads down the cliffs in this quarter, than those airy, meandering, and doubtful paths made by the feet of a few straggling sheep, that here and there crop the scanty herbage; and the elevation of those cliffs is such that

              The murmuring surge
That on the jagged points thus idly chafes
Cannot be heard so high.

To those who have sufficient courage to descend, the aspect of the towering eminences is terrifyingly grand and awful. Masses of grey rock, spotted with hoary mosses, protrude in wild magnificence, and seem ready to overwhelm the daring foot that profanes their sacred recesses. The spiky grass that finds, in shelving spots, a slender hold, serves just to cast a less dusky tint over the venerable pile. Scarcely can the astonished eye presume to look up: it trembles at having ventured down so far, and shrinks with horror from the beetling acclivity, which seems to preclude every attempt to re-ascend from the chaos of broken rocks still below. Here no trifling object diverts the mind :—all is great—all is strikingly sublime. The precipitous cliff in solemn stillness frowning above, and casting' a gloomy shade around. The hoarse waves of an expanded ocean, robed in its darkest blue, roaring below, and exciting a tremulous motion in the solid rock. Destruction threatens in various forms and on every side.

The Castle.—at the extremity of the promontory are some trifling ruins that bear the name of Grosnez Castle.

One lonely turret, shatter'd and outworn.
Stands venerably proud—too proud to mourn
Its long last grandeur.

A small gate-way and two projecting angles, constitute the remains of a portal; but loose fragments of stone, which are scattered about, denote that the original circumference of the walls must have been extensive. It is not known at what time or by whom this building was first constructed, and uncertainty seems to attach to the whole of its history. Tradition, however, which has the weight of probability on its side, affirms it to have been occupied by Sir Philip De Carteret, as a defensive post against the Count de Maulevrier, when, after obtaining possession of Mont Orgueil and the neighbouring country, he attempted to gain the rest of the Island.

If castles made of lyme and stone decaye.
What suretie is in bodies made of clay.

Plemont.—From Grosnez, the next promontory is that of Plemont, which is so deeply intersected on each side, as to be joined to the main land by a very narrow isthmus: this has been cut down to a considerable depth, so that it is improperly termed an Island; over the deep fosse is a drawbridge, and close to it is placed a guard house, which, in time of last war, contained a small military detachment, to prevent any hostile access.

The rock, on one side of the draw-bridge, drops in nearly a perpendicular line to the sea; another, which is at least two hundred feet in height, is absolutely vertical; has a surface equally level as an artificial wall, and glows with a splendid variety of beautiful tints, when reflecting the brightness of a clear morning sun.

This place has long been celebrated for its caves; they are chiefly on the Western side of a small inlet, of which the Eastern point is formed by the promontory of Plemont. The usual descent to those caverns is on this side: the declivity is safe though, steep: that of the hill which covers them is seldom used, and is said to be dangerous.

The most remarkable caverns are at La Moye, Plemont, and Greve de Lecq. Few strangers make excursions to Jersey without visiting its caves; and the far greater number are directed to go at once to Plemont without even hearing that Greve de Lecq is a cavern much more extensive than any other in the Island.

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