Friday, 8 January 2016

Guide Book: St Mary and St John

St John's Church

Continuing through the 1830s Guide Book to Jersey, we look at St Mary and St John.

We don't use the phase "chalybeate springs" much, but it means mineral spring waters containing salts of iron.

The dates of consecration of the churches come from a forged document; the actual dates would have gone back to the time before William Duke of Normandy became King of England. However the dilapidated state of the churches is accurate and reflects the churches before the great Victorian restorations.

St. Mary

St. Mary's.—It is one of the Northern parishes; there is nothing remarkable in it, with the exception of a few chalybeate springs, and some beautiful shady walks, neither of which is much noticed. Its population is nine hundred and seventy-seven persons. The church was consecrated October the fifth, 1320, stands rather in land, and is not an inelegant structure; but the neglected state into which the interior has been suffered to fall is much to be regretted, and is a reproach to the parish.

On quitting the church one enters a romantic valley, serpentining between lofty swelling hills, richly clothed with fern and other wild shrubs, displaying a lively verdure, on which the eye rests with pleasure. The valley is likewise shaded in different parts with groves of oak and fir. At length the winding path descends rapidly to a beautiful cave, called Greve de Lecq. Greve de Lecq's beauteous proves where verdant bowers

Bend o'er the wanderer, lone musing, where
The path, deep shaded, winds the rocky shore.
And pleasant 'tin, amid the glowing noon.
To saunter there—unasked—and note below.
Majestic sailing the distant ship
Slow moving, or the sea-bird winging wild
His startled flight.

Passing the barracks along the Eastern extremity of the cave, there is a cavern of no great height, but extending in length one hundred feet. This subterraneous passage cannot be explored when the tide is up; and when down, is rendered difficult and unpleasant, by pebbles forced by the action of the sea, into the mouth of the cave.

There are other caves here, particularly one under the hill, which shelves rapidly on the Western side of the bay. By following the sinuosities of a narrow track that runs along the hill, by the very edge of the precipice, a path descends to the spot: the spot is an irregular opening, nearly twenty feet in height, but much narrower. The most interesting time for viewing this sublime spot, is when the tide has risen, so as to admit entering it in a boat. Solemn music here would produce a fine effect; it would slowly vibrate through the deep recess, and the sounds, rendered full and yet softened by the water, would make every nerve thrill with the most delightful sensations.

A picnic party could be accommodated at a house near the barracks in the culinary department, but they should go provided with eatables, etc.

All the caves should be reconnoitred by water and not by land. With a boat from Greve de Lecq, it would be easy to land close to every opening in the cliffs; this would avoid scrambling over masses of rocks, or winding along narrow paths that skirt the edge of the precipices; and thus the caves might be viewed before the receding tide would admit of proceeding to them by land: great caution would, however, be necessary. A good offing must be preserved in doubling any of the sharp ledges, as in general, strong currents and broken water are prevalent near those angles, especially towards low ebb.

—It is a spot
Almost unknown—untrod ;—the traveller
Must turn him from the broad and beaten track
Of men to find it.

St. John

St. John's is in the Northern part of Jersey, and from St. Mary's to the church of St. John's, is rich and wooded. The latter building was consecrated on the first of August, 1204, and the population of the parish amounts to one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five.

At a short distance from the church, a path leads down to the little harbour of Bonne Nuit, where there are barracks neatly constructed, and almost untenanted since the conclusion of the war. The granite quarries, for which the parish of St. John is especially celebrated, lie about three quarters of a mile to the North of the church, and deserve to be visited by every stranger. The cliffs from which this beautiful and very durable stone is obtained, are very extensive and almost wholly composed of it.

The quarries are constantly worked, from the demand that exists for the stone; they belong to different proprietors, and afford employment for a considerable number of men. That from Mont Mado is held in the most esteem, being the whitest and, perhaps, one of the hardest quality; that from the quarry of La Perruque is also much valued, though somewhat darker in colour and less closely grained than that of Mont Mado. There are several other quarries, which produce excellent materials for building, though of less repute than those mentioned. The Mont Mado stone splits asunder with great regularity and beauty; most of the public buildings and the mansions of the affluent are faced with it. It is both handsome and durable.

In this parish and near the church, the traveller may be accommodated with good entertainment for man and horse. There are two or three good inns, especially that kept by Mr. Le Boutillier, adjoining the church yard, whose politeness and assiduity, for the comfort of his guests, cannot be exceeded.

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