Friday, 15 January 2016

Guide Book: Trinity and St Martin

Some more on the 1830s guide book.

Archaeology was in conception, not really even in its infancy, when this guide book was written, and as a result, we find "La Petite Caesarea", which we know as "The Catel de Rozel" attributed to Roman settlement. In fact, some parts dates to Neolithic times, and the early Iron Age, and if anything was probably a bulwark against the Romans - coins were hidden there probably from tribes fleeing the Roman incursions into Gaul. We also see the attribution of the neolithic sites to druids, and while Stonehenge may have been later used by the druids, there is no real evidence that druids even existed in Jersey, let alone that they used the neolithic sites.

Le Couperon dolmen is interesting because it is known that its current shape is a reconstruction, and it is not completely clear how it appeared originally. By the description here, in the 1830s, it looks as if it may have had stones arranged in a more circular pattern.

"On a small cliff, close to the harbour, called Le Couperon, the most extensive druidical antiquity now existing in the Island, and which is supposed to have been a temple of that worship, is to be seen. It is composed of twenty-one stones of about the height of three feet, enclosing within an area somewhat oval, other blocks and masses that appear to have once formed a pouquelaye or cromlech of considerable size."

It is interesting to see the legend of Jeffry's Leap features. This is a very ancient piece of folklore, as the old laws of Jersey mention (as I came across researching my Channel Islands Witchcraft book) that there was a trial by ordeal which involved throwing miscreants from cliffs, although no sites are given. So there is a written legal practice which confirms this kind of practice.

St Catherine's Bay is interesting because it is "is pretty, but has nothing remarkable." Work only started on a proposed harbour (now the Breakwater) at St Catherine on 28 June 1847, so the bay would have looked very different. It is also interesting that it notes "near this bay is one of the ancient chapels in a dilapidated state." I've been unable to find any references to this chapel elsewhere, so if anyone has any information, I'd be pleased to hear it. Was it an ancient chapel dedicated to St Catherine, as we find elsewhere? Possibly so.

Since writing this a correspondent (Alan) has said:

"If you come down le Mont des Landes, turn left at bottom, ( not right towards Les Arches... the other way as if going towards St Catherine pinewalk )into la Route le Brun, you will see a parking layby immediately on the right hand side. I believe there used to be a ruined chapel there many years ago.. Hope this helps"

And another correspondent (Mel) said:

"I looked at this question some time ago... All I discovered was that St Catherine's Bay was named after a Chapel that was located near Archirondel .. further research indicated that the ruins were demolished / removed around 1850? I never did locate the actual site of the Chapel."

Guide Book: Trinity and St Martin


Trinity—La Petite Caesarea.—The Roman entrenchment is in this parish: the remains of it are but few. It is a large district, and contains a population, according to the census taken in 1831, of two thousand and ninety-eight persons, being an increase of only fifty during the previous ten years. The church was consecrated September the third, 1163; it has nothing particularly noticeable. A short and pleasant ride conducts us to the marine scenery at Boulay bay, which is delightful. This bay is, on the Northern coast, formed by rocks, which rise above two hundred feet from the sea. With great truth, standing on this eminence, would the reflecting and pious tourist exclaim—

As from this rock at evening's purple time
I view yon waved majestically roll,
What awful wonder, and what dread sublime
Steals on the pensive stillness of my soul I

Boulay offers indeed a noble bay, but it labours under two evident and insurmountable disadvantages. Were a town to be built on the declivities, the ascent would be too steep for the purposes of foreign or even inland trade; and the want of a running stream, and, perhaps, of spring water] also, would be severely experienced.

The States—the legislative assembly of Jersey, have lately given a considerable sum—about four or five thousand pounds—to construct a pier at Boulay bay: it is now finished, and may be considered only as the commencement of a more extensive work, necessary for the defence of all the surrounding Islands.

The want of a good harbour, wherein the British squadron, employed during the war to watch the movements of the French navy, may occasionally find secure shelter, has frequently been felt. The extension of the present pier, a few hundred feet will form an excellent port, affording a sufficient depth of water to allow sloops and steam vessels, and even frigates of a larger class, to float in safety at any time of the tide, whilst all the other harbours are dry at its reflux; and the roadstead in the bay itself, the easiest of access and the best anchorage of any in the vicinity of the Islands, offers, on account of its situation in view of Guernsey, Alderney, and the coast of France, the most eligible station for the squadron.

There is a rapture on the lonely shore.
There is society where none intrudes.
By the deep sea and music is its roar.

To a contemplative mind the wild uncultivated scenes of nature afford satisfaction, equally with those of a more smiling aspect. The bleak mountain—the arid desert—the naked rock—and the expanded ocean—when not rendered uninteresting by the monotonous continuity, become scenes of gratifying reflection. We naturally contrast them with prospects differently featured, and the animated picture rises in all the beauty of variety.

To a pious man the attributes of the Divinity are everywhere impressed. In one instance he is struck with awe, in another with veneration, in another with wonder, and in all with love and gratitude. In Jersey, which may be termed a miniature of the world, these effects may be continually produced.

The scene changes at every step. The only wearisome repetition is that endless succession of narrow roads, overarched with trees, which, however pleasing when graced with the robe of novelty, tire by their uniform similarity, and perplex by their countless sinuosities.

St. Martin.
St. Martin's, which is one of the Eastern parishes) contains several interesting objects worthy the tourist's attention. The first place we shall notice is Rozel harbour, which is a small semi-circular basin, bounded by high rocks. This, beautiful little port has a pier on a small scale, and affords a residence to a number of fishermen. The neighbouring barracks are beautifully situated, and in Summer time, are the rendezvous of picnic parties. These barracks were always occupied by troops during the war; but are now, with the exception of a couple of artillerymen, untenanted.

The environs of Rozel harbour exhibit majestic rocks, frowning over dark glens, as if prepared to burst and overwhelm everything below.

And here and there a solitary tree,
Or mossy stone or hank, with woodb'nes crowned.

The solemn stillness of this scenery disposes the mind, to contemplation, and naturally raises it to hold "communion sweet and high" with that Almighty Being, at whose command the convulsed nature produced those wonders. Here retired from the world's garish eye, the man of leisure may

Look through nature up to nature's God;

or, if enjoying only a temporary seclusion from the busy hum of men, may form plans of public utility, in either way employing his solitary hours in a manner suitable to the dignity of a rational and immortal creature.

Hail awful scenes that calm the troubled breast,
And woo the weary to profound repose!
Here innocence may wander safe from foes,
And contemplation soar on seraph wings.

On a small cliff, close to the harbour, called Le Couperon, the most extensive druidical antiquity now existing in the Island, and which is supposed to have been a temple of that worship, is to be seen. It is composed of twenty-one stones of about the height of three feet, enclosing within an area somewhat oval, other blocks and masses that appear to have once formed a pouquelaye or cromlech of considerable size.

Three flat slabs, each six feet in length, which are supposed to have been once united, are said to have rested formerly upon fourteen smaller supporters of about the height of two feet. Perhaps their present broken state is more attributable to wanton violence than to the injuries of time.

Many masses of rock lie scattered about Le Couperon, and appear as if fallen from the heights above, or as protuberances rising above the plain; or there might formerly have been more of the same idolatrous monuments, but time, and the uses to which the stones may occasionally have been applied, render their original destination very problematical.

Continuing to follow the marine line, we sweep round several smaller inlets, forming coves along the coast ; passing Verclut to the bay of St. Catherine's, which is pretty, but has nothing remarkable. The shore of this bay is in some places broken by low rocks; in others, it is pebbly. Among the stones are many steatites. The pebbles line the upper part of the beach - towards low water mark the shore is sandy.

Near this bay is one of the ancient chapels in a dilapidated state. Not far from St. Catherine's bay, and rather inland lies Anne Ville, with a few scattered houses.

In one of the fields of this place is one of those vestiges of barbarism, called in Jersey Pouquelaye, being a rough slab of rock originally placed horizontally, and supported by several smaller pieces. The large stone measures three feet thick, ten broad, and fifteen long.

Some of its former supporters have been removed, so that it reclines on the ground. This is the largest single block of Druidical monuments now remaining in the Island. It is equal in dimensions to the celebrated cromlechs at Poitiers, in France, which Toland conjectures to have been a rocking stone.

A little to the Northward of a tower near this place, called Archirondel Tower, is a bed of pipe clay, which is seldom applied to any purpose, though' said to be of excellent quality. It is overflowed at high water, and frequently covered by sand.

A reverend pile.
With bold projections and recesses deep;
Fronting? the noon-tide sun. We paused to admire
The pillared porch elaborately embossed,
The wide windows, with their mullions old,—
The cornice richly fretted of grey stone,

Mont Orgueil Castle.—The rock on which it stands is of an olive and red colour. It is a lofty conical rock, which forms the headland of Grouville bay, and looks down like a grim giant on the subjacent strait. The fortifications encircle the cone in picturesque tiers, and the apex of the mountain shoots up in the centre of them as high as the bottom of the flag staff, which is planted on it.

During war a strong garrison occupied this position; but now a sergeant and two privates of artillery compose the whole military force. The view of this mutilated edifice, from the summit of the hill above Grouville, is noble and imposing; the date of the original construction of this castle is unknown; it has been assigned to days of Robert, the eldest son of William the Conqueror.

In the reign of King John it was a place of considerable strength; various additions have been made at different times, and many parts of what now remain are comparatively of recent erection, as may be learnt from the different coat of arms, carved on stone escutcheons, and placed over several of the gate-ways.

The chapel of St. George, in which some of the most distinguished characters in the history of the Island, and several of its governors were buried, is now completely in ruins and nearly filled up with rubbish, having been partly excavated from the earth, and the covering having fallen in. Under the arch-way near the entrance, are some stone benches, on which the judges sat when trying military criminals, and not far distant are some beams, from which those sentenced to death were immediately suspended.

A small apartment in the principal tower of the castle, still in tolerable repair, is said to be that which was inhabited by Charles the Second, when he remained some months in the Island, after the death of his father, before he accepted the invitation of the Scots. During his residence he made himself so well acquainted with every part of the Island, that he is related to have drawn a map of it, which was shown to travellers not many years ago in a cabinet of curiosities, at Leipzig, and is, perhaps, still in existence.

On a clear day the villages and buildings on the opposite coast of France and the celebrated cathedral of Coutances, may be distinguished with a naked eye from the top of the castle; and its lofty situation overhanging the sea, and the recollection of the various scenes of local interest which it has been the theatre, entitle it to a feeling of respect which few are not inclined to withhold.

The tower by war or tempest bent,
While yet shall frown one battlement,
Demands and daunts the stranger's eye;
Each Ivied arch, and pillar lone,
Pleads haughtily for glories gone.

A part of the fortifications of Mont Orgueil castle are coeval with Caesar's excursions into Gaul. The celebrated Prynne was confined here from August 1637 to November 1640. Till the erection of the jail at St. Helier's it was the prison of the Island.

At a short distance is Jeffry’s Rock or Jeffry’s Leap, so called, it is said, because formerly criminals were thrown from it into the sea. The road from Mont Orgueil to St. Martin's church, rises over a hill of some length, and is carried through some of the richest and most fertile land in the Island. This structure presents a neat and respectable appearance; the interior has been much improved by the removal of the old and inconvenient seats and pews; it was consecrated on the fourth day of January, 1116.

The manor of Rozel belongs to P. R. Lemprière, Esq.; the manorial rights extend over a considerable tract of country. The house is beautifully situated, well clothed with wood, and has been greatly improved by its present possessor.

This parish contains a population of one thousand nine hundred and fifty-six persons.

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