Monday, 31 October 2016

Three Tales of Samhain

For Samhain, otherwise known as Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, three tales. Don't expect any witches here. The witches and trick and treat, and all that custom is far removed from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, which is what these tales celebrate.

The first goes to the Celtic Irish Samhain, a gathering of the tribes to feast before Winter sets in, and draws upon texts we do have, legends of that time. The second looks at the land of the dead, very much within the traditions of the ancient pagan world, of the Roman Empire, and of the Greeks, of the place of shades. This one was influenced by Ursula Le Guin. The third and final one takes the idea of a crossing over and a voyage to explore ideas of death. and has allusions from Tolkien and Lord Dunsany.

Three Tales of Samhain
The Gathering of the Clans

Remember, remember, the Samhain fire
Where Irish chieftains meet for the feast
The tribal gathering, a time to inspire
Drink of mead, and eat fatted beast

The ship came into the harbour, and so we came to Erinn. We came to the house of Ruad, King of the Isles, on Samhain night. This was the gathering of the clans, and there too, tribute was paid, from the Isles of the Foreigners to the men of Ulster.

The dark night was lit with warmth, for the hillside was ablaze with the fires burning. Beacons across the hillside they summoned the clan, for it was Samhain, when the summer goes to its rest

We gathered the cattle, and the druids came to the stone altars, and there was the culling done, for there was not enough hay to keep our herd through the winter. This was the blood month, the time of the cold, of gathering the animals from summer pastures before the cold and confined season of winter. And the meat will be salted, and placed with the grain, against the hardship of winter, when the earth is dead, until the gods return it to life once more.

And the sacrifices are made, and the blood moon is high in the sky above. The cold stars look down, and those herds that remain we drive through the smoke and fire, that they might be blessed by the gods.

There is much merriment around the fire, as we eat and drink our fill before the winter cold, the coming of the Grey King, when the mists and damp settle on the land, the stones are icy, the ground damp with rain, and the air so cold and sharp like a knife.

But for today, for three days before the great day of Samhain itself, and for three days after hence, we feast, and tell tales, and the bards sing the tales of old, of the wooing of Emer, of the youths of Emain, of the six sons of Fergus, of the poets of Cormac, and the three jesters who made sharp remarks to the High King, and of Conchobor and Emer’s wedding gift.

And the sacred fire burns, and all light their own fires from this great blaze of wood, upon the hill of Tlachtga on the night of Samhain.

And the chanter stood tall against the fire, and began to invoke the lay of nightfall.

Before the ending of our day,
We see the sunset touch and pray
And wonder much about just how
Our time will come, next day or now

Come, final rest for weary eyes
The weight of time brings heavy sighs
And Darkness comes, our unclay foe
The time is coming, that we know

The time of sorrows will be done
The night approaches, no more sun
Embrace the Darkness, do not flee
Come, blessed death eternally.

The Dry Lands

A steady twilight brooded over the land, a twilight only broken now and then when a comet glared across the darkling sky. The dragons flew and sung in the sky, but they have left, departed beyond the wall of stone.

The valley where once water came, rivers flowing freely, has dried up. There are no more fish, and the mud is cracked and dry; this is a parched land. Not a breath of wind was stirring across this land. No grass grew here, just the bare ground, dusty, dark, and ages old.

Now all is desolation, and the stone walls, crumbling, tell of a mighty castle looking over the lake.

Once there was feasting in the castle, and the sounds of dances and merrymaking, but now it lies deserted, a crumbling roofless ruin against the dark sky. Rigel shines balefully through an empty window frame.

Above shine the stars, and the constellation of Thanatos, that which has never been seen by a living soul; the stars there, they say, form the rune of ending, that which is drawn on coffin lids. The circling of the stars, growing slower and slower, has given place to creeping points of light.

And on the horizon there lies a great wall, still standing, solid granite, but broken in places, yet held together as if by one great spell, the greatest of spells, the binding of the land of shadows. But one day the wall will fall, according to the Chaldean oracles, and the death itself will be no more.

Cross the divide, where there is a wall
By night, dream, yet in daytime recall
So little of the other side, distant land
Of night, where we can come to stand
Upon a hill, where the dry river flows
Where it is always night, no sun glows
But only starlight glittering in the dark
So bare, so cold, and such beauty stark
There is a land of dust, of dim shadows
Where no grass, no tree, no flower grows.

The wall is cast in spell bound stone
It blocks death in, from ancient bone
Until the day when we stretch forth
Our hands to break through to the north
That other wind will blow once more
The dust of ages will rise and soar
And we will fly upon the air, blown
Beyond the world, to lands unknown.

The Farthest Shore

It is a cold, damp day at the end of autumn, and the ground is thick with brown and golden leaves. I am walking down a path, the ground damp with rain, ferns glistening green, mushrooms rising, fairy footstools in decay.

The rain came last night, but today is a fine day, and the sun is out, but it is not as strong, its heat is lessening as it declines into winter. This is a time of fading, of the coming of the darker morning, the early evening, the cold damp soil, the smell of rotting leaves, as the trees say farewell for another year before their winter sleep.

But above me, a canopy of trees still gives shade, the brown leaves still waiting to fall, some acorns and chestnuts hanging on, although many are on the ground, crunching underfoot, and I walk on.

It is the last of the summer sun, a warm day in Autumn, and there is a stream by the path, and I can hear the trickle of running water as it flows gently by.

There are ducks swimming along the stream and there I see a old wooden bench on the side of the path. I sit and stay there for a while, enjoying the gentle bubbling water, watching the ducks ambling about. I need to pause, and take in the water flowing over the rocks, the red leaves on the trees, the chestnuts falling on the ground, for there is too much haste, and when we are done doing, we have to learn to be still.

But now I have been here for long enough, letting the world drift by, clouds crossing the sun, and a breeze has breeze has sprung up, fresh and autumnal on my face. I follow the path on and the trees come to an end, and there is grasslands and an azure sea beyond. I follow the path down an earth bank onto a sandy beach. And the stream flows on down towards the bright blue sea.

The sun is shining, but it is cool, yet pleasant. I see children in the distance, playing in the sand with buckets and spades. A sand castle stands solitary, a flag perched upon it, and a Welsh dragon flapping in the breeze.

I walk along the beach, away from the children, and when I look back, they are gone, echoes of my past. I listen to the waves breaking on the sand, and hear the cry of the gulls as they fly, soaring high above.

The sun is now going down and I look back and see people in the distance, children with buckets and spades, all packing up, and leaving the beach. At this distance, they are small, like stick people in a painting. Very soon as they climb the path the beach, and head inland, they are lost from view, and the beach is deserted.

The light becomes red with the setting sun, and I walk to a small harbour in the distance. I climb the steps, old granite steps, worn by the many folk who have trodden this path. At the top, I walk along to the end, where there is a small beacon, a flame burning in an iron holder.

And there is a tall ship, with masts and sails, moored in the deep water, at the end of the small harbour, and a man is waiting on the quay side, by the gang plank across to the ship. He is wearing white robes, and leaning on his staff, and he beckons to me.

It is now twilight, and the sky is turning purple and I feel colder. Suddenly, there is the sound of laughter and chatter and a procession of people is coming towards me, holding lanterns on poles. The light they bring is flickering and warm, and they smile at me, and take the gang plank to the ship, and I think I recognise them, faces from my past, folk I had thought never to see again. But this is the night of farewell, when we see again the shadows gone from sight, the ghosts of twilight.

Suddenly, there is a clear voice, the sound of singing. It is a woman’s voice and it is a sweet, lilting melody, in a strange tongue, but soft and beautiful in its harmony.

Of the ages past, of the wisdom old
I summon thee, from the sea and sky
To give us this courage to be bold
Come to us where the ancients lie

I see a lady in a fine long dress, and it is she who is singing. She rides a white horse along the jetty, and I help her dismount from the horse, and she smiles, and raises her hand in a gesture of farewell, and gets on the ship.

The man unties the ship from its mooring, moves across the gang plank, and pulls it over to the ship. And slowly, ever so slowly, the great boat glides gently out of the harbour, and out to sea.

I wave farewell, as it sails quietly on, and out of sight, a silhouette against, the bright light of the moon. And I know that someday, it will be my time to sail on the ship. And I retrace my steps back across the beach, and when I look back, it is a silhouette for a moment against the horizon, and then is gone in the darkness of the night.

The far and distant shores grow nearer, day by day
They beckon me to come and stay
Across the ocean, to the lands of everlasting night.
Of ancient times, where once the barrow wight
Was laid to rest amidst the ancient monuments of stone
To guard the paths from living to the dead, alone.

This is my eventide, arising waves do break,
And at life's end, does one forsake
All but the ship and the shipwright,
To take us safely through to light.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter - Part 31

Scene from the Amana communities in 19th Century USA

For the next weeks, my Sunday postings will be a transcript of the book "Simon Whom He Surnamed Peter" by the Jersey historian, the Reverend G.R. Bailleine (1873 – 1966).

Most of Balleine's books are either currently in print - as for example his History of Jersey - or online in the form of PDF versions. This book is not, so this is something different. As well as being a Jersey historian, Balleine was also a priest in the Church of England, and Ministre Deservant at St Brelade's Church for a time.

One think I love about Balleine is his wide learning. I had never learned about the Amana communities until I read this piece from Balleine.

by G.R. Balleine


Peter's experiment was so short-lived that it is often assumed to have been impracticable; but communities of this type have prospered. Among the Jews the Sect of the Essenes lasted three centuries, and in Philo's day (A.D. 15) had 4,000 members.

`They put whatever they earn,' he wrote, `into a common fund. They have a common storehouse, common expenditure, common raiment, and common food eaten in common meals.'

In the Christian Church the monasteries were another out-standing example. The Rule of St. Benedict ran: `No one shall presume to keep as his own anything whatsoever, neither book, nor tablet, nor pen. All things must be common to all.' The monks lived together, worked together, fed together; and so far from this leading to bankruptcy, it created such wealth that they grew lazy. The economic success of the system led to its undoing.

The Anabaptists were the left wing of the Reformation. By rejecting infant baptism they cut themselves off from their fellow Protestants, and this knit them closely together. In Moravia they had eighty-six colonies, some of which housed 2,000 people. Each had its large dining-hall, its common kitchen, its hospital, its school. They taught that no one is a Christian who does not share with his brethren. These Haushaben lasted a century, and were never more prosperous than when the Counter-reformation Bishops suppressed them for heresy.

A modern example is Amana. In 1842 some German Protestants emigrated to America, and built seven villages in Iowa. They pooled their resources. `In the family of God,' they said, `there is no mine or thine.' The land was worked as the property of all. Meals were eaten in common. And the communist system was strictly maintained till 1932, when the 1,240 members transformed themselves into a co-operative company.

The United States has had other similar colonies. One group built Harmony, another Zoar. In each they started as sturdy individualists; but common hopes drew them so close together, that they dropped private property as a form of selfishness. Both prospered amazingly. Harmony lasted a century, Zoar eighty years; and when they dissolved it was not for economic reasons, but because, like Amana, they lost faith in their fundamentalist theology.


Acts records two visits of Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, one (xi. 30 and xii. 25) in 44, when they brought famine relief to the Elders (not to the Apostles, who had probably fled from Herod), another (xv) in 50 to settle the dispute about circumcision of Gentile converts. Which of these visits is described in Galatians ii?

Some say the first. If so, it does not concern our present subject, for in 44 Peter was far from Palestine. But most English scholars believe it was the second, and that is the view taken in the present book. Arguments in its favour can be found in Lightfoot's Galatians and Rackham's Acts of the Apostles.


We have two accounts of this Conference, one in Acts xv, one in Galatians ii. Of these Paul's is clearly the most reliable. He was present at the meeting, and wrote soon after it was over, whereas Luke, writing many years later about things that happened before he became a Christian, had to trust second-hand reports.

He found some Rules for Gentile Christians dealing with food problems: `Abstain from meat which formed part of an idol sacrifice. Avoid food forbidden to Jews, when feeding with Jewish Christians; for example, pork (porneia, fornication, is probably a copyist's slip for porkeia, pork), strangled poultry, and flesh which has not been thoroughly drained of blood.'

He assumed that this list came from the Jerusalem Conference; so he added it to his account. But he must have been mistaken. When Paul reported to Galatia the decisions of the Conference, he not only did not mention these conditions, but said that the only proviso was `that we should remember the poor'.

When he described the dispute with Peter, he never referred to these rules, though they would have settled the question. When writing to Corinth about meat offered to idols, he recommended the very course that these Rules forbade -'Eat and ask no questions, unless you cause a brother to stumble'.

He could not have ignored like this the bargain by which he had bought his converts' freedom. As a guess, these Rules may have been made by Peter for the Antioch Love-Feasts.


When the New Testament canon was formed about 160, numerous Gospels existed. `Many have undertaken,' said Luke, `to write an account of what happened.'

The four that survive are probably those of four of the great Churches. Mark was the Roman Gospel, `John' the Ephesian, Luke probably the Corinthian.

This leaves, since Jerusalem was in ruins, Alexandria and Antioch. Alexandria would never have sponsored so Jewish a Gospel as `Matthew'; so modern scholars regard Antioch as its original home: e.g. McNeile (Introduction to the New Testament), `Antioch is the place that seems to satisfy the conditions best'; Kirsopp Lake (The Beginnings of Christianity),

`The Epistles of Ignatius suggest that "Matthew" is the Antioch Gospel'; Streeter (The Four Gospels), `In the Church in Antioch, a city with an enormous Jewish population, we seem to have just the atmosphere of the Gospel, which, though frankly recognizing that Christianity is for all nations, is saturated with Jewish feeling, and is less touched by the spirit of Paul than any other book in the New Testament.'

Antioch, the third metropolis of the Empire, had a Church of great importance in the second century. If it had a Gospel of its own, it would not have allowed it to be excluded from the Canon.

The statement that Peter was the rock on which the Church was built was probably written in some city where Peter had been head of the Church; and Antioch claimed him as its first Bishop. In this Gospel Peter is specially prominent.

Ignatius, who was Bishop of Antioch, quotes `Matthew' in his letters, `and implies,' says Streeter, `that at Antioch in his day there was only one Gospel recognized as "the Gospel" by the Church'.

The stater, the coin in the fish's mouth, varied in value in different districts. Apparently the only places where it was worth two didrachnrae, the amount of the Temple tax, were Antioch and Damascus.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

All Hallows Eve

My poem today, as we approach "All Hallows Eve", otherwise known as the festival of "All Souls"  is about grief and love and death.

All Hallows Eve

Oh weep with me, at this my eventide
Grief is so deepening, memories abide
When time recedes, every year to flee
Further back the past, the time of you and me

The very same words, I still recall that day
That phone call; that you had passed away
Change and decay in all around I see
And you were gone, grief alone with me

How I would pay, for even single hour
But time is beyond our magic’s feeble power
What happened cannot change, it will always be
But oh how much, I wish you were with me

I light a candle, your memory to bless
But of regrets, I still weep with bitterness
Lost moments past, death has the victory
And only memories of you, still abide with me

I can still see you now, if I close my eyes
And I remember your ashes, scattered to the skies
And of joys we had, and then the shadows flee
In life or death, part still remains with me

Friday, 28 October 2016

Father John Cunningham and the Beginnings of “Vauxhall”

Back with the "Catholic Herald" of January 1957 this week, and the story of Father John Cunningham.

Father John Cunningham and the Beginnings of “Vauxhall”
Very few altar-boys of St Mary and St Peter, who carry the processional cross to and from the sanctuary, Sunday after Sunday, realise that. the cross may be over a century old, and, as the: inscription on the back relates, " Was presented by Subscription to the Church of S.S. Mary and Peter, St. Helier, as a Memorial of the Reverend J. Cunningham, formerly pastor of the Church who died A.D. 1848 ".

The name of Father Cunningham, although he was rector for only nine years, and died at the early age of forty, is still one of the household words in St. Mary and St. Peter's, ranking with those of Monsignor McCarthy and Canon Hourigan, who between them ruled the parish from 1848 to 1931-a period of 83 years. And rightly is his name honoured for he was responsible for the building of the original Church in Vauxhall, to replace the tiny chapel in Hue Street. He was not the first rector of the latter, by any means.

After, apparently, being served until 1821 by the Abbe Le Guedois, rector of the French Chapel in Castle Street, it was under the charge of at least the following :-the Reverend Carroll (1821--27), Matthew Ryan (1829-33), Timothy Riordan (1834-7) Edmund Murphy (1837-9), and then, from 1839, the Reverend John Cunningham.

For the rest of the story we can let contemporary records speak for themselves:-

Chroniques de Jersey Wed. 13th October 1841 (translated): “The foundation stone of a new Catholic Chapel to be erected in Vauxhall will be laid today at twelve noon by William Burke, Esq., of Windsor Crescent."

J. N. de la Croix's “La Ville de St. Helier” (published 1845): - ' The foundation stone of the English Roman Catholic Chapel in Vauxhall was laid in 1841. A brass plaque inlaid in the foundation stone bears the following :-(translated from the Latin) " The foundation stone of this Church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary was laid by William Burke, Esquire, in the year of Our Lord 1841, The Right Reverend. Thomas Griffiths Bishop of Olena being Vicar Apostolic of the London District, the Reverend. John Cunningham being Pastor, and James Parkinson the Architect ".

L'Irnpartial of 4th January 1843 (translated) : --" The Roman Catholic Chapel in Vauxhall was dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin on Monday (Jan. 2) and was yesterday opened to the Public. A crowded congregation gathered at the magnificent High Mass whose singing was rendered by Miss Rafter and Messrs. Forzoni, Le Tarouilly and John Rafter. The Chapel will he consecrated by his Lordship the Bishop of London (sic) in the course of this month or the month of February

That St. Mary's Catholic Church, Vauxhall, was no mean structure can be seen from the engraving here reproduced. Unfortunately, no record of the activities of those early years has survived. The next event recorded is the untimely death of Father Cunningham.

Jersey Times, 25th August 1848:-" We regret to have to announce the death of the Reverend John Cunningham: the truly benevolent Minister of the English Roman Catholic Chapel of this town. After a long illness, with occasional delusive intervals of comparative health, he expired on Tuesday afternoon last, between the hours of 2 and 3 o'clock, in (we believe) only the 41st year of his age, to the deep sorrow of his friends and flock (synonymous terns, indeed) and to the sincere regret of the entire community, amid all classes and sects of which, he was generally, we may almost say universally, esteemed.

Of the late Mr. Cunningham as a member of the Catholic Priesthood, it is not for a Protestant journal to speak ; but as a good citizen and a kind friend ; as a man of considerable information, and extended and liberal views, both political and religious ; as a warm-hearted adviser, as a charitable reliever of the Poor and the Unhappy, without distinction of Nation or of Church ; as, in fact, a man and a Christian ; we should do violence to our own sense of right no less than to his memory, and to the public estimation of his goodness of heart, his intelligence, his integrity of life, were we not to lay upon his bier this our humble tribute to the excellence of the lamented late Roman Catholic minister of Jersey.
Mr. Cunningham expired in St. Heller, at his residence adjoining the Chapel where he had for many years so laboriously and zealously officiated, and within the precincts of the consecrated ground of which, his remains will, we believe, be this morning interred."

In those days when ignorance and suspicion of things Catholic were still very strong, it must have been remarkable to receive such a tribute. The following lines, published a few days later, are even more remarkable:-

(Jersey Times 29th August 1848)

To the Memory of
The Reverend. J. CUNNINGHAM, R.C.C.

The shadow of the holy fane
  Falls softly on thy breast,
When even-light is on the wane --
  On peaceful he thy rest
They laid thee lowly in the tomb,
  With nought of pomp or pride,
Nor show of well dissembled gloom
  Grief's hollowness to hide.
No need, when sorrow welleth up
  From the deep fount of tears
No need to dash the bitter cup
  With unavailing cares.
I've seen thee weep with them who wept
  Another's grief, thine own
And of thy voice hath memory kept
  A well-remember'd tone.
And many a heart will long retain
  A record of thy worth,
That knelt not with thee in the fane,
  Nor saw thy face on earth.
Too soon was ended thy career,
  For all but only thee ;
For, what is Life ;- - a drop, when near
  A vast eternity.
Calm be thy rest within the dust,
  Where heart-,warm tears shall shower;
Bright, thine awaking with the just,
  At the appointed hour !
A Protestant
St. Helier, August. 26th.

For all the above quotations, we are indebted to Raymond Falle, Esq, F.R.S.A, Deputy librarian of the Public Library, to whom we take this opportunity of expressing, our thanks. His interest was aroused by an enquiry sent to the Evening Post, earlier this year, by a great-great niece of Father Cunningham's, Miss Eileen Egan, now living at Shillingstone, Dorset. 

The enquiry was it happy one, from our point of view, because it has brought to light definite dates of the beginning of Vauxhall, which before could only he vaguely guessed at. Indeed, the Centenary Booklet, published in 1948 turns out to have been five years too late ! But such mistakes easily happen in matters historical, and better late than not at all.

In some later issue of the Record, we hope to speak of F'r. Cunningham's grave ; but for now it is too long a story.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Island and Coast of Guernsey – Part 3

My post today is a selection from "The Channel Islands" by David Thomas Ansted and Robert Gordon Latham, published in 1865. Most travel guides look at the population, the sights to visit, something of the history, but this is an exception. It begins by looking at the geography of the Islands, and then considers how it his has shaped their subsequent history, so it is a bit different from the general guidebook.

The Island and Coast of Guernsey – Part 3

Petit Port, Moulin Huet, and Saints' Bay, are small inlets of a large bay, with excellent anchorage, enclosed between Jerbourg promontory and an almost detached headland, called Icart Point, about a mile and a-half to the east. There is good shelter in this extremely picturesque bay from all northerly winds; and it might have been selected with advantage for a harbour of refuge, as the entrance, except near Jerbourg Point, is entirely free from rocks. The ground close to the shore is generally rocky, although at intervals there are small coves, with sands adapted for bathing.

Each of the small coves is worthy not only of a visit, but of prolonged study. Every visitor to Guernsey is taken to Moulin Huet, the central and most important of them; and few parts of the island are more crowded with exquisite morsels of rocky scenery. Petit Port, smaller, and not easily reached, is hardly inferior, and Saints' Bay is a charming little bathing-place.

From Saints' Bay we may scale the hill side through furze and brake to Icart Common, and thence proceed along the cliffs towards Icart Point. Passing a small farm-house now occupied, and a ruined house behind it, we come upon a steep slope of ground, thinly covered with coarse grass, and often very slippery. Down this slope, any one accustomed to clamber will walk securely enough, till he or she reaches a singular isthmus, almost corresponding to the Coupe of Sark. The sea on both sides has at this point eaten away a narrow passage, through a vein of softer rock than the granite beyond, leaving a natural causeway about five or six feet wide, and several yards in length, on either side of which is a precipice of some sixty or eighty feet.

There is much less action of the weather on the surface here than in the island opposite; but in other respects Icart Point and its isthmus strictly correspond with Little Sark and its Coupe. The sea and rock-views, both from the extremity of the point, and from the shore below, which can be reached at low water, are very fine.

From the higher point the whole of the two receding sweeps of coast, the one east to Jerbourg, and the other west to Moye Point, are within view. Both are picturesque and finely broken, and are characteristic of the island. That to the west has been already described. The other is as nearly as possible of the same width, and recedes to about the same distance, but is more regular.

To the west of the centre is a small cove, called Petit Bot, reached from St. Martin's by an extremely picturesque Welsh valley, watered by a small stream, which turns a mill at the bottom, where another valley, equally picturesque, comes in from the Por6t church. The little cove itself has a wide spit of fine sand at low water, and at its western end is a bold, rocky cavern, often visited, and celebrated as the abode of a somewhat rare fern, the Aaplenium marinum. Those, however, who would obtain specimens, must provide themselves with some means of reaching high up near the roof of the cavern, as plants growing near the ground have long since been carried away.

The headland that forms the western extremity of Icart Bay is Moye Point. It is bold and precipitous, rising at once from tolerably deep water, and is the last prominent point along the south coast.

[Moee, a mass of stoues, old French; Monceau is a word similarly used in ! iii-iii, Moye is used in Jersey and Sark as well as Guernsey. In all the islands it refers to a dangerous headland. Many of these ancient names are now inapplicable, owing to the destruction of the coast that has taken place.]

Beyond it to the west there is a succession of indentations of the coast, not amounting to bays, but producing very picturesque scenery, and at intervals interrupted by narrow gorges. The best of these is called La Corbiere [The haunt of the corb (cormorant, or sea-raven). This name occurs also in Jersey. It is about another mile to the west. 

The Gouffre is a fine intermediate point of view, often visited. The Corbiere exhibits much varied scenery, and several veins of dark greenish rock traversing the pinkish and grey cliff, give additional interest to the view. A very accurate representation of it. is given in the chapter on geology. A path down to the sea at the Corbiere, enables the pedestrian to obtain a noble view of the deep, rocky indentations of the coast at this point.

About a mile from the Corbiere is the Creux Mahie, the largest cavern in Guernsey. The approach is not difficult, but the mouth of the cavern is almost closed by large blocks of stone, either drifted up by the sea, or fallen in from above. A vein of decomposing rock entering the cliff nearly at right angles, is the origin of this, as of many of the caverns in the Channel Islands. When once entered, the space is found to be large for a granite cavern, opening out into a natural hall, 200 feet long, with a width of forty or fifty feet, and a height of from forty to sixty feet. Beyond this there are smaller crevices.

Among the most striking examples of the cliff scenery of Guernsey, are those near the south-westernmost angle in the neighbourhood of Pleinmont, commencing at the Gull Cliff, and passing several rocky headlands to Pezerie Battery. One may walk along the edge and side of the cliff for more than two miles, on a succession of jagged promontories, connected by narrow necks of rock with the main island. At each point a fresh view is opened. The coast is everywhere deeply indented, and there are some detached islets close in shore.

Besides these the group of rocks called the Hanois, already alluded to, come into sight, and add much to the picturesque effect. These rocks are an extension of the south-western extremity of the island, and are very easily recognised. At high water the waves dash angrily on the shore, between and among the half-detached rocks, and conceal the numerous ledges and reefs that render this coast so dangerous. Seated on one of these headlands of the south coast, and tracing the in-coming or out-going tide on its restless course of destruction and renovation, no one can fail to recognise the mode in which this part of the island of Guernsey —the loftiest part, and that rising out of deepest water—is continued by many ledges of rocks and rocky islands, far beyond the land; and also how the land itself is still being encroached upon, so that the present cliffs will be turned into similar rocks.

These geological remarks, it is true, belong rather to another chapter than to the description to which we are here limited; but as they greatly help to explain the physical features of the whole group of islands and rocks, and as these can only be rightly considered in their mutual relations, such incidental allusions are not altogether out of place.

The dangers incurred, if the Hanois rocks are approached too closely, are so great, and the chances of destruction in foggy weather so terrible, if a ship should miss the lights on the English coast, by making too southerly a course, that there has always been great need of a warning here. The question of its erection has frequently been discussed between the Corporation of the Trinity House and the States of Guernsey, and it is only very recently that the decision has been made to place a Trinity light in this important locality.

Past Pleinmont Point and the Pezerie Battery, the coast scenery of Guernsey changes entirely. The continuous rocky and precipitous cliffs drop down to the sea level, or recede into the interior, but bare jagged rocks and rocky ledges are continued out to sea in numerous reefs and islets. A vast floor of rocks is laid bare at low water, and covered at high tide, in the open bay of Rocquaine, the first of the flat bays on the southwest coast, but large sweeps of sand partly conceal them.

Rocquaine Bay is well named, as it presents a bristling array of rocks, stretching out seawards more than two miles, and terminating on the south with the Hanois rocks, and to the north by a reef some distance beyond Lihou. The Bissets are detached rocks, opposite the middle of the bay, rising out of deep water. It would be very difficult to mark and number the rocks jutting out of the water at all times of tide in this bay, and the effect seen from the cliff above Pezerie is very picturesque.

Lihou is a singular and interesting spot. It is a detached extremity of the northern arm of Rocquaine Bay, and is two miles in a direct line from Pezerie, from which it bears nearly north. It may be regarded as the extreme north-westerly extremity, jutting out into the sea, of the belt of high land in the south of Guernsey, the corresponding point on the eastern side of the island being Castle Cornet. Castle Cornet on the east side, and Lihou on the west, occupy, indeed, corresponding positions; but Lihou is very much the larger, being about 600 yards long by 150 wide, including, therefore, about eighteen acres, while Castle Cornet is only large enough for a small group of buildings. Lihou is nearly rectangular in form, and its greatest length is from east to west. It is connected with Guernsey at Le Rae Barracks by a rough causeway, about 700 yards long, covered during at least half of every tide.

Lihou is one of the few places in the Channel Islands where there are ruins of monastic buildings which have some architectural pretensions, although without much decoration. At the beginning of the present century they included interesting remains of a chapel, dating so far back as the commencement of the twelfth century, some fragments of which may still be traced. These belonged to a priory, which was surrounded by cultivated land and gardens. There is a good deal of fine rocky scenery about the island, and some capital rock pools contain much to interest the zoologist.

Beyond Lihou there are four sandy and rocky bays (Le Ree, Perelle, Vazon, and Cobo), terminated by the headland called Grande Rocque, a picturesque, but not lofty mass of granite, about three and a-half miles to the north-cast. This part of the coast has a very different character from the southern part; and, although in its way highly picturesque, especially at the season of gathering sea-weed, there are no cliffs, and the land near the sea is low and marshy. Beyond Grande Rocque something of the same character of coast prevails as far as Grande Havre, where the sea formerly entered. Between this and St. Sampson's there was formerly a salt marsh, separating the northern part from the main island.

The inroads of the sea all along this coast have been checked, wherever necessary, by a sea wall, which also interferes with and prevents the advance of drifting sands. The sea breaks heavily on the rocky floor of the bays, and there can be little doubt that the condition of this part of the island has been considerably improved since the road and sea wall were constructed, and the land was reclaimed.

Mention has been made of the coast scenery from Pezerie Battery to the Grande Havre, as full of interest and beauty, though neither bold nor backed by any amount of rich cultivation in the interior.

The multitude of rocks, all covered by sea-weed, afford points of view, and varieties and contrasts of colour, an accurate representation of which, by first startling and then convincing a somewhat unwilling public, have established the reputation of the admirable island artist, Mr. Paul Naftel, who being determined to render them conscientiously, without regard to conventional rules in such matters, has succeeded in creating a sound natural taste for, and admiration of, them.

Few scenes, indeed, are more striking than these bays when the peasants, anxious to secure their harvest of weed, are busied either removing it from the rock, turning it over to dry, or stacking it for winter use. The seasons selected for this are spring and autumn; spring, when the intense orange yellow of the gorse is dazzling in its intensity on the hill side; autumn, when the fern is acquiring that rich burnt brown that forms so fine a contrast with the yellow and colder browns of the rocks, and their living coats of lichen. Rare and difficult studies are here afforded for the genuine artist; studies by which lovers of art for its own sake, and artists who prefer grappling with a difficulty to rendering familiar scenes in a stereotyped manner, will learn much, and may perhaps unlearn yet more.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


OUT there in the cold water, far from land, we waited every night for the coming of the fog, and it came, and we oiled the brass machinery and lit the fog light up in the stone tower. Feeling like two birds in the grey sky, McDunn and I sent the light touching out, red, then white, then red again, to eye the lonely ships. And if they did not see our light, then there was always our Voice, the great deep cry of our Fog Horn shuddering through the rags of mist to startle the gulls away like decks of scattered cards and make the waves turn high and foam. (Ray Bradbury, The Fog Horn)

It was very foggy last night, and I missed that sound, which has now gone for good from Corbiere lightouse, as apparently no longer needed in the days of GPS (but probably as much to do with cost-cutting). Gone is that haunting sound that took the listener back to the days when sailors were out there hoping for safety

The Ghost: Ship out there. Too close, by the sound. It's the loneliest sound... like a child lost and crying in the dark. Mmm, he's lost, all right... with a captain cursing a blue streak and wondering why he ever went to sea instead of opening a grocer's shop like a sensible man. Fog in the channel is treacherous. I'd rather face a northeaster. (from “The Ghost and Mrs Muir”)

There is a sense when one heard the fog horn that there was someone on guard, watching those who were out at sea. It was a pleasing, comforting sound.

Driving in the fog, especially at night, can be tricky. Those wisps and tendrils can suddenly thicken, and the curves and weaving of the road, so easy to navigate by day, become a maze to traverse with care.

I was looking up quotations about the fog for this blog, and I came across this poem by William Henry Davies.

W. H. Davies (3 July 1871 – 26 September 1940) was a Welsh poet and writer. He spent a significant part of his life as a tramp, both in the United Kingdom and United States, but became one of the most popular poets of his time.

The principal themes in his work are observations about life's hardships, the ways in which the human condition is reflected in nature, his own tramping adventures and the various characters he met.

This poem is a wonderful and surprising reflection on the human condition. The poet finds himself in a fog so thick that he is disoriented and cannot find his way home.

The Fog - Poem by William Henry Davies

I saw the fog grow thick,
Which soon made blind my ken;
It made tall men of boys,
And giants of tall men.

It clutched my throat, I coughed;
Nothing was in my head
Except two heavy eyes
Like balls of burning lead.

And when it grew so black
That I could know no place,
I lost all judgment then,
Of distance and of space.

The street lamps, and the lights
Upon the halted cars,
Could either be on earth
Or be the heavenly stars.

A man passed by me close,
I asked my way, he said,
'Come, follow me, my friend'—
I followed where he led.

He rapped the stones in front,
'Trust me,' he said, 'and come';
I followed like a child—
A blind man led me home.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Fiscal Fantasyland

Reports from the Jersey Innovation Fund show that a loan was given to “Logfiller Limited” 18 months ago to support the development of “a sophisticated computer software solution that measures user experience of application and system use”.

The States Innovation Fund Board granted a £400,000 States loan to the company. Online records showed:

Logfiller is a private company founded in 2013. It is the brainchild of Jeremy Barker, Co-founder and CTO and is now the No.1 REAL User Experience company. Registered Office: Beachside Business Centre, Rue Du Hocq, St Clement, Jersey, JE2 6LF “

Digital Jersey posted this Posted Friday 26th June 2015

“Logfiller Ltd. announces Rollout Of Its New “User Experience” Technology, Layer8. Logfiller Ltd., a young technology company, is rolling out its new software, Layer8, a user experience measurement tool that reveals actionable new data. This innovation has “immediate and significant implications for efficiency, cyber security and compliance across the Windows environment” explained co-founder, Michael Colopy, “providing far more insight than standard technology.”

So what is Layer8?

Machine data, wire data, transaction times ... all useful bits obtained from monitoring your infrastructure and applications. None of these, however, accurately reflects internal end-users’ experience. Obtaining insights from end-users must be derived from their perspective ... at Layer8.

Layer8's metrics are driven by the interaction of the end-user and the system, not by underlying machinery or software. The output is high-quality, dense data that provides insight into what the end-user is actually experiencing, not what logs or counters record. Stated simply, Layer8 provides actual end-user experience data for desktops and VDI ... at scale.

Viewing your organization from the outside in with Layer8 transforms management and processes, empowering better decision making. Imagine what could be done if your team could leverage ...

But that comes from OctoInsight’s website, not Logfiller!

PR Newswire says this:

MCLEAN, Va., June 9, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A happier day is dawning for PC users and IT managers as the universal divide between the two is being spanned by a versatile new technology, Layer8, from OctoInsight Inc. (formerly Logfiller).

And that press report tells us:

This innovation is the latest brainchild of user experience obsessive, Jeremy Barker, who has built some of IT's most effective and successful endpoint technologies.

Logfiller and Jersey

Bailiwick Express reports in June that:

“Senator Philip Ozouf has accepted “full responsibility” for the £400,000 States Innovation Fund loan given to a company that appears to have left the Island – but says that the reality is that some businesses backed will succeed, and some will fail.”

“In a statement to the House yesterday on the story about the fund, Senator Ozouf refused to answer specific questions about Logfiller, but did say that ministers expected up to 50% of the companies backed by the fund to fail, and for the money to be written off.”

“Press releases name Michael Colopy as co-founder and Jeremy Barker as CTO, but the company’s website redirects to a firm called Octoinsight, based in Virginia in the US, which names the same two people in the same roles.”

On Friday last it was reported that Logfiller was liquidated:

Digital Quadrant Magazine has this to comment, which really sums up the whole sorry mess far better than I could.

They provide an excellent overview of news stories on Digital Technology, and can be found at:

Here is what they said (my italics):

“Having lent £400,000 from the Island's innovation fund to a company called Logfiller Ltd, those in charge of administering the loan and making sure it was being used appropriately, not only failed to ensure how the company was doing but failed to spot that the firm and all of its representatives had left the island. Thoughtlessly, they hadn't provided a forwarding address.”

“Indeed, it is quite possible that none of the businesses that have received a loan from the fund will succeed. However, the cause for concern lies in Senator Ozouf's assertion that 'the ongoing review process of what’s happening with the company has continued and that continues to this day' Really?! How do you review a company that has disappeared?”

This wasn't a company that failed, this was a company that went AWOL. It's management ran away without leaving a forwarding address. To the best of our knowledge it has defaulted on its loan but this is OK, says Senator Ozouf, because the right processes have been followed. “

“Gallingly, the Senator also claims to take responsibility for the mess, that is whilst noticeably failing to resign and whilst failing to accept that mistakes were made. ‘I would have made the same decision, but some businesses will fail and others won’t,’ he told the States of Jersey.”

Senator Ozouf clearly doesn't have a grasp of the situation. He seems to be confusing a failed business with a business that has disappeared, has run away and appears to be fleeing from its responsibilities to the island with the money that was entrusted to it.”

“As with so many companies attracted to the island, there was no shortage of press releases and fanfare announcing Logfiller's arrival and its being awarded a loan. None of this will have played well with the many local business owners who had to swallow all this after their own applications to the Fund had failed. That the largest single loan provided by the Fund should be made to a company that had no track record of any interest in Jersey, was salt being rubbed into their wounds.”

“Perfectly good Jersey-based businesses were overlooked in the Fund's, Digital Jersey's and Senator Ozouf's desperate desire to be seen to be bringing new investment to the island. Sadly, the result appears incredibly similar to the £200,000 that Jersey's current Treasury Minister, and then Economic Development Minister gave to the also disappeared, Canbedone Productions, and its fantasy fantasy film that never got made in Jersey.”

The Fund may well have undertaken due diligence and assessed Logfiller Ltd before awarding the money nut all this tells us is that its processes and procedures are shoddy, ineffective and need to be overhauled.

“The reality is that Jersey has become a soft target for cavalier 'businessmen' who may have decent intentions but clearly don't have the ability to deliver. With no resignation from Senator Ozouf or any member of the Innovation Fund board, it is clear that nobody is taking any responsibility, just as happened with Canbedone.”

“Islanders are left to foot the bill. Islanders are asked to pay more taxes and islanders are left to pick up the pieces of public-sector incompetence that constantly fails to learn from past mistakes.”

One of Harry Enfield's regular sketches was entitled "I Saw You Coming". Maybe it should be required viewing for the members of the States Innovation Fund?

Monday, 24 October 2016

RIP: Jimmy Perry

RIP: Jimmy Perry

Who do you think you are kidding, Mr. Hitler
If you think we’re on the run?

One of my abiding childhood memories is Dad’s Army which ran from 1968 to 1977. This was an amazing run of 9 years, not because of its length on air, but because of the consistently good quality of the scripts and performances.

“Allo Allo” ran from 1982 to 1992 and “Are you being served?” ran between 1972 and 1985, both longer periods, but they became tired shadows of their greatest days, and their ending was long overdue. “Allo Allo”, once Francesca Gonshaw and Sam Kelly after the fourth season, it began a long decline into a rag bag of catchphrases and farce. And “Are You Being Served?” did capture the reality of a particular kind of department store while Trevor Bannister (1972-79) and Arthur Brough (1972-77) were in it; after that, it went the same way as “Allo Allo”.

The commonality to “Allo Allo” and “Are You Being Served?” was David Croft, but Jimmy Perry was not involved in those. It is very much clear that while David Croft knew what made television comedy, it was Perry who kept its feet firmly on the ground.

One of the major differences between “Dad’s Army” and these is that they capitalised on their success by serving up more of the same, whereas “Dad’s Army” always went back to source, and found new and fresh situations; it always had at least a foot in realism.

Look at the following. Series 6 – by which time most other series had run out of steam:

The platoon is ordered to guard the crew of a sunken U-boat until the escort arrives. However, the escort is delayed, and they must guard the crew all night.

A group of American soldiers arrives at Walmington-on-Sea, but their presence is unappreciated when the soldiers begin flirting with the platoon's girlfriends.

And Series 7, who can forget these:

The platoon dresses up as Morris dancers as part of a carnival to raise money for the town's Spitfire fund, which is still £2,000 short. A Lady Godiva figure will lead the parade, but there is confusion over who this will be.

Lady Maltby donates her Rolls-Royce, and Wilson and Pike are assigned to paint it for camouflage. However, they mistakenly paint the Mayor's Rolls-Royce instead, just before a French general is due to visit the town.

Series 8:

The platoon is chosen to play Nazis in a training film. After they arrive at the set a week early, they are mistaken for real Nazis on the way home.

Despite his bad chest, blocked sinuses, weak ankles, and a recently acquired facial tic, Pike is passed the medical exam and is set to join the army.

Godfrey's cottage is under threat from the building of a new aerodrome, and Frazer blackmails the minister in charge to save it.

And the final series 9:

Pike borrows Mainwaring's recently acquired staff car to drive his new girlfriend to Eastgate, but it runs out of petrol on the way home, forcing Pike to spend all night pushing it back.

Perhaps the only false note was the introduction of Mr Cheeseman as a Platoon regular, after the early death of James Beck as Private Walker, a move that did not work well, and wisely dropped after one season.

Petty went on to collaborate with Croft on “It Ain't Half Hot Mum” (8 series) and “Hi-De-Hi”, both based upon personal experiences.

Unfortunately, “In Ain’t Half Hot Mum”, while it captured the concert parties of the army in the Second World War, suffered from being removed from the domesticity that served “Dad’s Army” so well.

It is watchable, but has its roots in a world that is much more distant from us today, and one that was probably better served by the movie of Leslie Thomas book “The Virgin Soldiers”. And in these politically correct times, army prejudices from a long ago epoch do not fit well into our modern world.

“Hi De High” was however set in a realistic and home-grown environment, that of the holiday camp of the 1950s, with its “Yellow coats” and “Jo Maplin” (a thinly disguised amalgam of Billy Butlin and Fred Pontin”). While not reaching the high points of “Dad’s Army”, the first five series with Simon Cadell were very watchable, but unfortunately it overstayed its welcome.

About “You Rang M’Lord”, the less said the better. An attempt to spoof “Upstairs Downstairs”, it really was desperately unfunny, and was the last collaboration between Croft and Perry. Sadly, Croft by this point was hitting the bottom of his career, and “Oh, Doctor Beeching!” written by David Croft and Richard Spendlove was another, as well as “Grace & Favour” with David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, an ill-conceived attempt to recapture past glories.

But Jimmy Perry will forever be remembered for “Dad’s Army”, a combination of superb scripting, played by an ensemble of some of the very best character actors in the business. A few quotes to finish with, and not a catchphrase among them...

German U-boat Captain: I am making notes, Captain, and your name will go on the list; and when we win the war you will be brought to account.
Captain Mainwaring: You can write what you like; You're not going to win the war!
U-boat Captain: Oh yes we are.
Mainwaring: Oh no you're not.
U-boat Captain: Oh yes we are!
Pvt. Pike: [Singing] Whistle while you work, Hitler is a twerp, he's half-barmy, so's his army, whistle while you work!
U-boat Captain: Your name will also go on the list! What is it?
Mainwaring: Don't tell him Pike!
U-boat Captain: Pike!

Pike: Did the curse come true?
Frazer: Aye son it did, he died....last year, he was 86

Mainwaring: You both went to public schools, didn't you?
Wilson: You know, I can't help feeling, Sir, you've got a little bit of a chip on your shoulder about that.
Mainwaring: There's no chip on my shoulder, Wilson. I'll tell you what there is on my shoulder, though: three pips, and don't you forget it.

The Vicar has just joined the platoon, and Mainwaring is not happy about it.
Vicar: Could I stand by and watch my wife being raped by a Nazi? Finally I said to myself, no I couldn't.
Mainwaring: But you're not married.
Vicar: I have a very vivid imagination

Mainwaring: No liquor is to be taken without my permission.
Frazer: Hold on! That is undemocratic!
Mainwaring: You, Frazer, will be in charge of all liquor permits.
Frazer: I'm right behind you, Cap'n!

But I could not finish without some catch-phrases:

"You stupid boy."
"Don't panic!"
"They don't like it up 'em!"
Listen Here Napoleon'
"We're doomed. Doomed."
"Put that light out!"
"The Vicars not going to like this."
"Do you think that's wise sir?"
"May I be excused?"

Sunday, 23 October 2016


As Steven Erlanger wrote:

At the school assembly that day, they sang “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and were about to start classes when they heard a roar in the distance.

Fifty years ago, after days of hard rain, a mountain of coal waste and slurry slid through Aberfan in a black avalanche, crushing the town’s school in its path and killing 28 adults and 116 children.

At the inquest, when a child’s cause of death was listed as asphyxia and multiple injuries, one father famously said: “No, sir. Buried alive by the National Coal Board. That is what I want to see on the record.”

This poem is my commemoration of that disaster.

I've chosen a rondel as the form of the poem, with an open meter.


Fifty years past, the village died
Her heart cut out, her soul so lost
The slag heap fell, at such a cost
Rain came down, the people cried

With bare hands, oh how they tried
To dig for children, men exhaust
Fifty years past, the village died
Her heart cut out, her soul so lost

Slag came down in deathly slide
The school buried, oh such a cost
Weep for children that were lost
On that hillside, how they cried
Fifty years past, the village died

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Surfing the Cosmos: Talk by Martin Hendry tonight

In having Martin Hendry coming to speak on Saturday, Jersey has probably one of the highest ranking professors that has ever visited, and one dedicated and passionate about public engagement in science. Expect a talk that will expand your mind but in terms that you can understand. 
Martin is Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, where he was first appointed a faculty member in 1998, and where he is currently Head of School.
In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in recognition of his contributions to research, teaching and the public understanding of science. In January 2015 he was awarded an MBE for services to public engagement in science in the Queen's New Year Honours list.
Please come along in a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear a Professor who can engage with children, adults, and has even been invited to a conference at the White House (and I don't mean the one in St Ouen!)
Saturday night - 7.30 pm, St Brelade's Church Hall - Parking in next door Rectory field.

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Church of Scotland in Jersey

From “The Pilot”, 1983, comes this interesting article from The Reverend P Kirby

The Church of Scotland in Jersey
By the Rev P Kirby

There has been a Church of Scotland presence in Jersey since 1972.

At that time the Presbyterian Church of England opted to go back into the Church of Scotland, rather than unite with the Congregational Church to form the United Reformed Church.

I say go back into the Church of Scotland, because St Columba's Midvale Road, St Helier, was originally founded and built in the 1850's by the Free Church of Scotland to care for Scottish troops and the Scottish community living in Jersey. Although the congregation has not changed in character to any great extent, and although the pattern of worship is not very much different from the worship of the English Presbyterian Church, its affiliation and loyalty, along with its sister church in Guernsey, now lies with the National Church of Scotland, and its main function is to serve the Scottish Community, which is quite large in Jersey, and to minister to Scottish tourists during the holiday season.

The Other `Established' Church

As I understand it, the aim of this series of articles is to provide information on the background, history and current thinking of various churches, all of which will be regarded as "Free" or "Dissenting" churches by the Church of England.

Thus it will appear strange to some of your readers to have an article written about the other Established Church in Great Britain, which is neither part of the Anglican Communion, or even episcopally governed.

The Church of Scotland is the National Established Church in Scotland, protected by law and acts of Parliament. It has territorial responsibility for serving the country, which it does by a parish system. Although recognising the State, it is totally self-governing, no members of the Royal Family, Ministers of State, or Parliament, having any power to interfere in the running of the Church, no power of appointment to any parish or elevated office, no authority to pronounce on any issue of administration, jurisdiction or theology.

Because it is the Established Church in Scotland, the Queen, and Royal Household become ordinary members of the Church of Scotland once they cross the Border into Scotland, and although they are held in great love and affection by all they hold no office in the Courts of the Church.

Ecclesia Scoticana

Although the Church of Scotland has been Presbyterian by government, and Reformed in theology since the Reformation, the history of the church can be traced back almost to the origins of the Christian Church. It certainly dates from the occupation of Britain by Imperial Rome.

The Christianity thus imported by soldiers and colonists extended on the West Coast of Scotland as far as the Firth of Clyde. St Ninian 362 - 432 carried the gospel to Galloway and later to Central and Eastern Scotland, as far north as Caithness. In the 6th century a Christian kingdom - the original "Scotland" - was formed in Argyllshire by conquest and colonisation from Ulster. This led indirectly to the conversion of the mountainous region of North Pictland, again by missions from Ireland, amongst whose missionaries was St Columba who was the founder of the Abbey of Iona.

The actual name "Ecclesia Scoticana" was first recorded in 880 after the union of the crowns of North and South Pictland. Up to the 12th century the Scottish Church was Celtic in Government - that is, it was monastic, not episcopal. It also failed to acknowledge the authority of Rome. In 1188 the sees of York and Canterbury tried to gain jurisdiction over the Scottish Church, but failed. In order to keep ecclesiastical autonomy however the Church of Scotland had to accept Papal authority, which lasted until the Reformation.

In the mid-16th century the controversy with Rome was reopened and the Church of Scotland definitely rejected Papal authority; it reasserted its responsibility as a national church and its subsequent right and duty to correct error and reform abuse in its own practice. The reformation which resulted has in no way affected identity, but on the contrary reaffirmed and strengthened the unity and continuity of the Church of Scotland with the one church catholic.

Despite what people outside Scotland may think, the church and the state in Scotland see the Reformation not as creating a new church which brutally thrust out the old, but a reforming of the old in which there was maintained a oneness and a continuing identity with itself, and what had existed from the beginning.

One of the earliest acts of the General Assemblies after the Reformation was to adhere, along with the Reformed Churches of Hungary, Poland, France, Switzerland and the Palatinate to a confession known as the Second Helvetic. It held, amongst other things, to the major ecumenical creeds.

The main subordinate Standard of Faith of the Church of Scotland is the Westminster Confession of Faith. From 1693 Parliament, at the Church's request, made it a legal requirement that all clergy adhere to the Confession. It has remained thus until the present day, being confirmed by succeeding Assemblies and also by Acts of Parliament of 1905 and 1922.

Clergy And Ordained Laity

In administration the Church is Presbyterian, that is, it is governed by a series of courts in ascending authority, made up of both clergy and laity in equal numbers. With the exception of the sessions, which are made up entirely of ordained elders, who are laity ordained for life to local church government and pastoral oversight, each court is a 50/50 mix of clergy and elders. Presbytery, the next highest court has a geographical responsibility for churches within its bounds. It has oversight of all matters of administration, law, and theology, and also the power to ordain ministers and induct them to charges.

The Synod again has the same proportion of clergy to laity, and has authority over several Presbyteries, acting as a Court of Appeal. Finally there is the General Assembly, which is convened once a year in Edinburgh in May. It meets for a week and is the ultimate authority of the Church in all matters. Again there is an equal number of elders to clergy. Approximately one third of all clergy attend on a rotating basis.

Each Assembly appoints its own moderator from the attending clergy, and officially his moderatorship lasts only for the duration of the Assembly. During the rest of the year he represents the church as a roving ambassador. There is no hierarchy amongst the clergy. All are equal, and there are no "promoted" posts at all.

Since the 1970's the Church of Scotland has licensed and ordained women both to the Holy Ministry and the Eldership. Elders, who are ordained laity, assist the minister in his pastoral responsibilities, and in the administration of Holy Communion, which is usually celebrated four times a year. It is the Kirk Session who have the authority to decide on the number of times Holy Communion will be celebrated.

Finally you may ask, Why a Church of Scotland in Jersey? Whilst we enjoy very warm relationships with all denominations in the Island, we are not associated in any way with the so-called "English Free Churches". Our prime function is to represent the National Church of Scotland and to care for ex-patriate Scots. Although our church here holds the status of a full parish of the Church of Scotland it serves the same function as other national churches abroad, that of an overseas chaplaincy.

In other words we are a National Church in a foreign land. Having said that however, I must point out with pleasure that we are a congregation of many different nationalities and backgrounds, sharing common Presbyterian allegiance, and this makes our church rich in a real and living way, and open to all. Perhaps that is why when we put up our Church of Scotland board we retained our sign "Presbyterian Church".

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Island and Coast of Guernsey – Part 2

My post today is a selection from "The Channel Islands" by David Thomas Ansted and Robert Gordon Latham, published in 1865. Most travel guides look at the population, the sights to visit, something of the history, but this is an exception. It begins by looking at the geography of the Islands, and then considers how it his has shaped their subsequent history, so it is a bit different from the general guidebook.

The Island and Coast of Guernsey – Part 2
The most prominent near objects, on approaching St. Peter's Port from the sea, are Castle Cornet and the new harbour works. The former will be referred to presently. A portion of the latter, consisting of a magnificent sea wall, now connects and passes beyond the rock on which the castle stands, commencing at the southern extremity of the town; so that the castle and the works appear to form part of one great plan. This sea wall forms the south arm of the new harbour.

The old harbour of Guernsey, ordered to be built  AD 1275, by King Edward the First, and in course of construction for two centuries, from 1580 to 1780, was only four and a-half acres in extent, and the quay-room was extremely narrow and restricted. Plans for its enlargement, still retaining the character of a tidal harbour, were submitted to the states in 1836, by Mr. James Walker, and subsequently, others by Mr. Rendell.

The latter, though not very different from the former, were accepted; and their execution entrusted to Mr. G. Fosberry Lyster, on the recommendation of Mr. Rendell. Soon after the commencement of the works, important alterations were proposed; and it was decided that, instead of a mere tidal harbour, the natural features of the locality should be taken advantage of, the old harbour being entirely closed. It has also since been greatly improved. The whole of the alterations have been planned and carried out by Mr. Lyster.

An idea of the present harbour will be at once obtained by looking at the annexed plan. Two noble esplanades have been constructed, one on each side of the old harbour, running parallel with the sea front of the town, their total length being 2500 feet, with a breadth of 150 feet. From the two extremities of this, spring breakwaters: one at the south extremity, reaching beyond Castle Cornet, and now nearly 2000 feet in length, connects the -castle with the main land; the other, at the northern end, is incomplete. It is intended to run this out 1300 feet in an easterly direction, and then bend round 750 feet towards the north-east angle of Castle Cornet. 

Within this space will be enclosed, not only a large and excellent anchorage-ground of fiftyseven acres, the whole covered at low water neaps, but the small old harbour, now an inner harbour, a space intended to form a floating dock of ten acres extent, building yards, a careening hard, and other conveniences for shipping. The space enclosed will amount to as much as seventy-three acres at low water, and is being dredged to nine feet, low water spring tides.

Landing-places for steamers, accessible at all times of tide,— slip-ways and berthing for vessels, offering every convenience for trade,—form part of the plan in prosecution; and a great length of quays, eighty-four feet wide, has been already constructed, in addition to the level roadway and footpath on the breakwaters. All these latter are carried to a height of from ten to fifteen feet above the highest tides; arid two enormous massifs, or square emplacements, covering rocks, have been constructed,—one intended as a ladies' bathing-place, with bathing houses and hot water baths—and the other, at present left unemployed. On this it has been suggested that a first class hotel might with advantage be built.

The masonry of the work executed for the harbour is of granite, and does the greatest credit to all concerned. Much of it is Cyclopean, doing away with the formality of level courses, and this without any sacrifice of strength, although with a great economy in labour.

Castle Cornet was a far more picturesque object when a detached island fort, in the time of Charles the Second, than it has since been. It could then well compare, in this respect, with Elizabeth Castle, in Jersey. Although much dismantled, it still contains many architectural gems.  For a long time, and till the year 1811, it was the island prison; but this use is now superseded by a building near St. James' church, immediately behind the Court House, in the centre of the town.

The new gaol is, however, too small, and is ill adapted for its purpose. It is a singular fact, that all the modern buildings in the island are, without exception, singularly wanting in good taste; but whether this arises from want of cultivation, from the remains of Puritanical feeling, still very marked, or from absence of natural power of appreciating what is beautiful, is not easy to say.

St. Sampson's, the only other town, is much smaller than St. Peter's Port, and is now almost connected with it by houses and rows of buildings along the shore. It is a place of some business in connection with the stone trade, which is centred there, to take advantage both of the adjacent quarries and of the little harbour. Many improvements have been made in the harbour, and it is continually increasing in importance. There is little to attract or interest a stranger in the town; all the buildings, except the church, being small and of modern construction.

The harbour is entirely dry at low water, and was originally part of a small arm of the sea, which severed the northern portion of the island from the main land. It is only sixty years since this strait was permanently embanked at each end, and the intervening land reclaimed. The space forming the harbour is about 2000 feet in length by 500 feet wide, and encloses twentytwo acres of water, at high spring tides. A breakwater now extends 650 feet in a southerly direction from the north shore, and terminates 120 feet from the south pier-head; and this work, recently completed, has greatly improved and sheltered the harbour.

The wide shingle bay, having at intervals large spits of sand, that extends between St. Sampson's and St. Peter's Port, has already been mentioned as presenting few features of interest. About half way between, however, there is a curious ivycovered fragment of antiquity, called the ' Chateau des Marais,' better known as the Ivy Castle. It is surrounded by a fosse and by an outer wall, enclosing a
space of about four acres.

To form an idea of Guernsey, it must be visited in two ways; for the interior gives but little idea of the coast, and the fine scenery of the coast seldom opens at all into the island. As a whole, there are few parts of the Atlantic coast of Europe where the cliffs communicate so little, by picturesque open valleys, with the interior of the country; but this arises chiefly from the fact, that the rock is everywhere granite, sloping with some degree of regularity in one direction. The natural fractures, produced by the elevation of the mass, have been already deeply penetrated by the sea, and have produced a multitude of detached islands and rocks, so that what remains consist of hard, rocky masses of table land, often high, but nowhere hilly.

It will be advisable to describe, first, the coast scenery, and afterwards, that of the interior; and, as the most convenient order, we may, with advantage, commence in the vicinity of the town, and notice the chief points of interest as we follow the line of cliff immediately to the south.

From the harbour, the sea wall continues for a short distance to a part of the coast called Les Terres, at which point the cliffs are precipitous, and a strip of public walks and gardens between them and the sea is now in course of arrangement. The ground thus utilised was laid bare during the construction of the harbour; and the mode in which an operation, which might have been unsightly, has been rendered decorative, is worthy of every praise. Two or three small bays beyond, included within the enceinte of the fort, and not accessible to the public, terminate at a small projecting headland, marked with a very unsightly white turret, serving as a sea mark.

Fermain Bay, at the foot of the cliff at this point, is a pretty sandy cove, behind which is one of the few narrow glens opening into the interior. A road runs up to the right from the sands of Fermain Bay to the St. Martin's road, passing two cottage residences placed on the steep slope of the gorge; and a blind path, choked with furze and brambles, may be found to the left, and followed between thick hedges up another branch of the glen, also to the St. Martin's road.

Perched on a tongue of high land between these, is the park-like and well-wooded little estate of Bon Air, built by a former bailiff of the island. There is a private way through the gorse-covered sides and ferny bottom of the glen, from the house to the sea; and the annexed wood cut will give some notion of the exquisite beauty of the broken ground, and the mixture of cultivation and wildness in this part of the island.

From the narrow path just alluded to, a branch will be found close to the edge of the cliff, and an extremely picturesque path conducts to a small fisherman's landing-place, called the Bee du Nez, near which are two open, rocky caverns. Still further on, the same path enters a grassy and ferny hollow, below the Doyle column at Jerbourg. It is quite possible to reach this point at all seasons, at the risk of tearing clothes with brambles and wetting feet in the damp, boggy earth.

From the hollow, which is always rather wet, the shore may easily be reached, and it is well worthy of the effort. To the left there is a cavern, superior to any in Guernsey, except the Creux Mahie, and remarkable for its noble and simple proportions, and magnificent entry through and amongst huge, broken rocks. Turning to the left, as you enter, several fine fragments of rock and grand arched rocks conduct to an imperfect representation of a cavern and funnel well known in Sark, and called there, the Pot. The chimney, or opening above, is here much less lofty than in Sark, and the top is concealed by a thick growth of brambles. In this respect it agrees better with the Creux at Herm.

In all these cases the hole has been originally produced in a soft vein, by rain water. The vein is a very dark green decomposing rock, and contrasts finely with the pink granite. It is continued across to a corresponding bay on the other side of Jerbourg promontory, called 'Petit Port.' Besides this vein, there is one of quartz, and several very interesting minerals are found near. The chief source of interest is, however, derived from the noble forms of broken rock, and the thick vegetation that comes down almost to the water's edge. Considering its wild beauty, it is singular that this little bay, so near the town, is not more frequently visited and better known.

Mounting the cliff at this point, we reach Jerbourg Point, where a column has been erected in honour of Sir John Doyle, a former governor, to whom the island was indebted for its roads, and for numerous improvements.

The views from hence, and also from the rocks about a quarter of a mile beyond, are very fine. The promontory on which the column is placed, forms the south-eastern extremity of Guernsey. It is the nearest point in the island to Jersey, being somewhat less than eighteen miles north-east of Cape Grosnez, in that island. The height of the cliff at the base of the column is about 300 feet. Beyond the foot of the cliff there are several detached rocks, rising out of deep water. The depth of water almost immediately outside Jerbourg Point, and close to these rocks, is at least twenty fathoms.