Friday, 28 April 2017

Jersey In Colour - Part 1

Today is an extract from a 1960s Jarrold Guide to Jersey, entitled "Jersey In Colour". How beautiful the Island looked in the 1960s! Just look at the Weighbridge Gardens, which I myself remember well.

The text mentions "The New Park", which readers may puzzle over. This was St Andrew's Park. Also of note - the "fine grounds of Victoria College" are no longer open to the public.

Jersey in Colour - Part 1



















Jersey is the largest of that captivating group of islands which we call the Channel Islands. The name is undoubtedly of Norman origin J and most probably means the "island of grass", an apt title when we consider the famous strain of cattle which originated here. As an inhabited island Jersey has a very long history, dating from the cave-men of Old Stone Age times. Celts, Gauls and Romans have left traces of their presence here, and in Christian times Britons from Cornwall settled in the island, as they fled from the mainland to escape the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

It was, however, the Normans who became the most firmly established race in Jersey, and their stalwart qualities materially strengthened the prosperity of the island. Indeed, until quite recent times Norman French was still the language of the ordinary people, and even today the influence of the latter tongue has not entirely disappeared.

The system of government is quite unlike that of Britain, and in spite of the modifications introduced by the Reform Act of 1949, Jersey has retained a constitution of her own. Basically the system is founded on the old Frankish institution of the parish representatives, called Constables, who with the Senators, Deputies and the Bailiff make up the "States" or Parliament.

The Sovereign is represented by a Lieutenant-Governor who may speak in the States, but who has no vote. In practice he rarely exercises this privilege, though he has control of all matter affecting defence. Civil justice is under the jurisdiction of the Royal Court, while criminal cases are heard separately. One of the great attractions of Jersey as a place of residence is that taxation is less severe than in the other parts of the British Isles.

Geographically Jersey is linked to her neighbour France, and at several distant periods of history has actually formed part of the mainland of that country. The island is only 45 square miles in area and its greatest length is a bare 11 miles, but it is comparatively densely populated.

Farming has always been the principal occupation of Jersey folk. Every available patch of grass feeds the familiar Jersey cow, unsurpassed as a milk- and cream- producer, but it is arable crops which are the mainstay of Jersey's agriculture. Potatoes are by far the most important crop, although tomatoes- grown largely in the open-form a considerable export to British markets.

Like the other Channel Islands, Jersey was considered strategically indefensible during the Second World War, and for nearly six years was occupied by German forces. Those days are now over and today the island and her people once more extend their well-known hospitality to visitors, not only from England and France, but from many other lands as well.














St Helier, the capital of Jersey and the only sizeable town in the island, is situated on the shore of St. Aubin's Bay. About half the entire population of Jersey live in St. Helier, whose prosperity depends in no small measure on its harbour.

The original harbour has been considerably enlarged and today there are six miles of quays and ample facilities for the berthing of the many passenger and cargo vessels which use the port. In the view above may be seen a corner of the Albert Harbour and the Weighbridge Gardens.

The outer arms of the harbour are known as the Victoria and the Albert Piers in honour of the Queen's visit to the island in 1846. Fort Regent, which was built in Napoleonic times, crowns the hill overlooking the harbour, and from it there is an excellent view of the town.















The importance of the harbour to Jersey can scarcely be exaggerated, for it is Jersey's lifeline. However, it was not until the end of the eighteenth century that St. Helier had its first artificial harbour, enclosed by the old pier and the north pier.

The Old Harbour, together with two smaller basins called the French and the English Harbours, are used by fishing boats and other small craft.

A wide esplanade extends from the harbour to the causeway leading to Elizabeth Castle and con tinued by the Victoria Avenue promenade. The sandy beach, facing south, is within easy reach of the town and is therefore extremely popular.

Boats leave every few minutes from West Park slip for historic Elizabeth Castle, which is open to visitors and has many interesting features, including two tableaux showing famous events in the island's history. 














The Royal Square was the market-place of St. Helier until the end of the eighteenth century, when owing to the ever-increasing numbers of stallholders and customers the market was moved to a new site at Halket Place. 

At the market cross in Royal Square new laws were announced and public proclamations made. On the site of the cross a gilt statue of George II was erected in 1751. In the curious fashion of the time the king is depicted as a Roman Emperor, crowned with a laurel wreath. 

It was in Royal Square that the famous "Battle of Jersey" was fought in 1781, when Baron de Rullecourt, a French adventurer, took the town by surprise and fortified the square. The situation, however, was restored by the boldness of Major Peirson, who rallied the militia and attacked and defeated the French. 
















Jersey's principal government buildings are situated on the south side of Royal Square. Justice has been administered in the Royal Court House since the twelfth century, but the present building was constructed in the eighteenth and enlarged in the nineteenth century.

The silver-gilt mace, which is carried before the Bailiff, was presented to the island by Charles II, as a reward for the loyalty of the people to the Crown.

The Royal Court is flanked by the Public Library and Administration Buildings and by the STATES CHAMBER (Salle des Etats), the island's Parliament. The photograph below shows the small chamber, furnished in Jacobean style. The seats are arranged in three tiers around the two central "thrones". It will be noticed that the Bailiff's seat is slightly elevated above that of the Lieutenant-Governor. The standard on the canopy commemorates the visit of George V in 1921.















St. Helier has several charming public parks and gardens which are popular retreats with those who seek rest and relaxation. Among them may be mentioned New Park, presented to the town by Mr. Gervaise le Gros, where a small Neolithic dolmen is to be seen, Mount Bingham, the hill to the south of Fort Regent, which has been tastefully laid out with lawns and terraces; and HOWARD DAVIS PARK (above), a glorious sight in summer with its attractive flower-beds and green lawns. 

The Jersey Recreation Grounds lie a short distance inland and cater for many sports, while the fine grounds of Victoria College are open to the public. The college commemorates the Royal visit in 1846 and has a distinguished academic record. In the well-kept War Cemetery are the graves of Allied airmen and sailors killed in operations off the island during the last war.

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