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OF THE TWELVE parish churches in the Island of Jersey, all dating back to Norman days, the oldest is that of St. Brelade. The alleged date of its consecration, viz., A.D. 1111, is based on a statement contained in the "Livre Noir" of the Cathedral of Coutances in Normandy. But it is now well known that the original "Livre Noir" was stolen some years ago and that the existing book was compiled from memory by a monk of the period who had studied the original MS. very carefully, and early chapters prove that the Church existed prior to A.D. 1111. For example: (a) a charter of Robert I, Duke of Normandy, dated A.D. 1035, "confirms the donations made to the Monastery of Montiviliers", and his son, William the Conqueror, adds thereto, "the half of the revenues derived from eight Churches in Jersey", one of which is-that of St. Brelade. As these allocations confirm previous grants, it is evident that the Churches existed at earlier date than that of the Charter of Robert 1. (b) A Charter of Henry II, dated A.D. 1160, confirms to the Abbey of "St. Sauveurie Vicomte", the Churches which it holds in the Island of Jersey, viz.: St. Brelade, St. Pierre
Careful study of the building places beyond doubt the fact that the present Chancel is the oldest portion of the Church. The roof and the easternmost buttress-arch moresque (horse-shoe) in shape.
This older building extended some six feet into the present Nave and was presumably a Chapel attached to a neighbouring Monastery; the "Fishermen's Chapel", its close companion, being attached to a second, and earlier, Monastery.
Early in the twelfth century the Transepts and a portion of the Nave were added and the building became the Parish Church.
It will be noticed that the second buttress-arch of the Chancel (above the present screen) was raised either at that time or subsequently when the original roof of the Nave was itself raised, so that this buttress-arch shows above the roof-line, whereas the eastern-most buttress-arch retains its original position, below the roof.
We may enquire why the roof of the Norman Nave was raised some two and a half feet, to a Gothic "pitch", in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries. The "Fishermen's Chapel" roof was similarly raised at the same period. May it not have been by reason of the sites which both buildings occupied from a military point of view? The Island, from early days, was exposed to innumerable raids by pirates and marauders of various nationalities and the Bay of St. Brelade, facing south and sheltered, was a favourite spot for attempted landings. It is well known that the original south-eastern portion of the old Churchyard became a fortified place of defence (as will be explained in further detail in my short account of the Fishermen's Chapel). When cannon was introduced as a weapon of warfare and pirates could bombard the point of attack from the sea, the defending parishioners may have been compelled to strengthen the Church roof by raising it. In support of the theory, I may state that cannon-balls of early date and size were found below the Church floors.
The mode of erecting stone buildings in those days is very interesting. Having no lime locally at their disposal the masons collected quantities of shells (mostly of limpets) which they pounded and boiled in water from the sea. This hot liquid was poured into the cased-in wall-work and the result is seen to-day in the wonderful solidity of those ancient walls, sometimes necessitating the use of a gunpowder charge to dislodge them (our own experience during the restoration of the Church, A.D. 1895-1900).
The Church of the twelfth century was cruciform in structure, consisting of a Chancel, a Nave (built at two periods), and Transepts—the latter forming the two arms of the cross.
At a later date, perhaps not a long one, the Chancel-Aisle was added; after that the Nave-Aisle, in successive sections; and then again, that projection at the west end of the Nave which at the time of the Restoration was used as a Vestry but now forms the Porch of the restored west entrance.
As to what period the Tower was built, it is impossible to say, but it is certain that it was not coeval with the first portion of the Church.
These are the chief changes and additions which the main fabric has undergone, but there are others of great importance. There are few remains of the original windows showing on the outside. But there are remains of them on the inside. The inner arch of the restored window over the Nave-Aisle west entrance and the sides of that, also restored over the western exit from the Nave are, respectively, the inner arch and the jambs of the original windows. So also are the side and the arch of the lancet-window discovered in the south wall of the Nave near the Pulpit.
The inside arches of two of the original lancet-windows in the then north wall of the Nave are also well-preserved—the outside arch of the second window, still plastered, appearing in what then formed the outside wall of the Nave (now the south wall of the Nave-Aisle).
Externally, there are, as I have stated, scarcely any remains of the original windows, because, at a later period, probably in the fourteenth century, they were replaced by others partaking of the character of that style generally known as "Flamboyant". The North Transept window is an example. Another change was made at a later period—perhaps at the beginning of the nineteenth century—when several of the windows were again restored and, in some cases, the tracery and mullions were ruthlessly removed in order that wooden "sash" windows might be inserted. (This applies to all windows in the Nave and Nave-Aisle at the time of restoration.) Fortunately, in some cases, portions of the tracery and mullions which had been cut away still remained, and these gave most useful data from which to restore them. Within living memory some of these old windows were removed and replaced by modern ones—the easternmost window in the south wall of the Chancel, the easternmost in the north wall of the Chancel-Aisle, and that in the south wall of the Nave, near the Pulpit, being instances. These have now been replaced by traceried windows in keeping with the others.
There was once a Rood Screen across the Chancel arch, this being proved by the entrance to it, and the masoned-up doorway above it, which have been found in the staircase turret, and also by the granite corbels which still remain, on which the "loft" rested. I casually ascertained that the carving on the corbel in the north wall of the Chancel was done by a workman some forty-five years ago, during the leisure of his dinner-hour. These were, briefly, the main features affecting the architectural history of the Church on which we based the scheme of its Restoration. The system on which we determined that the Restoration should be carried out was: that, so far as possible, the old work should be restored: that, where any of the old work could be retained, it should be repaired rather than replaced; and that, in fact, restoration in the true sense of the word should be the guiding principle.
Critics will, I have no hesitation in saying, acknowledge that the result of the Restoration bears, as a whole, proof of faithful adherence to these premises.
I shall now proceed to deal with the various portions of the Church such as we found them, detailing the changes which have been effected.
The Walls and Roof. First of all, the internal walls and roofs (from floor-line to apex) were plastered and white-washed, but some of the plaster from a small portion of the walling in the Chancel and under the Tower had already been removed, and the joints pointed. The work had been well carried out, and as the effect was good, we decided that the whole of the interior should be similarly treated. The walls and roofs were discovered to be built, not of rubble, etc., as had been anticipated, but of pebbles— presumably gathered from the beach near at hand.
Many limpet shells were found, and are now to be seen, still affixed to the sea-worn stones. The builders must have brought the pebbles from the shore, and the live limpets must have been caught by the liquid lime-mortar oozing along the walls, which, penetrating between the slight-raised shells and the wall, affixed them thereto.
The question may be asked: "Were you justified, from the point of restoration, in removing the plaster?" In other words: Was not the interior of the Church plastered from the very first? My answer is in the negative, because we discovered that the first layer applied to the pebble roofing was not plaster but lime-wash.
This leads one to suppose that because of the damp caused by the saline nature of the lime-mortar, frequent applications of lime became necessary to destroy fungoid growths. This work, in course of time, may have become tedious, and may have led to the simpler mode of covering the stone-work with plaster.
Apart altogether from that question, however, the various architectural features of the roofs were quite hidden underneath the coating of plaster, which averaged, at the apex of the roofs, from ten to twelve inches, and on the walls from two to four inches in thickness. The removal of the plaster has exposed the "pitches" of the roofs with their various "arcs-doubleaux" (buttress-arches) and has helped to disclose the various additions to the original portions of the building.
It is interesting to find that many early Churches in Normandy and Brittany are not plastered, for example, the Cathedral at St. Malo, the Parish Church at Quimper, and, among several in England, those of St. John at Chester, and West Darley, Derbyshire.
The present Chancel was, before its Restoration, filled with pews in gallery formation facing the west. But careful examination of the old floor, and after removal of the pews, the discovery of the double Piscina in the south wall, proved this portion to have been the old Chancel.
The easternmost buttress-arch manifestly started originally from below the floor-line on both sides, but most have been subsequently cut back on the south side from that line upwards to the springing of the arch. A comparatively modern "bracket", quite out of keeping with the great antiquity of its surroundings, and seeming to support the arch, had been inserted. On the north side the buttress had been incorporated, together with the buttress (then external) in the south wall of the Chancel Aisle, into an octagonal pillar. This pillar is, without question, a portion of the original north boundary wall of the Chancel, refaced with pebble stones when the Chanel-Aisle was added. I may here state that we discovered the foundations of that boundary wall below the floor-line across both arches under the north wall of the Chancel.
The old pebble-walling around, and forming the jambs of, the south windows in the Chancel was unfortunately demolished some 50 years ago and replaced by modern faced-stone, without following the splay of the original window. This recent work we were compelled to leave in status quo, owing to the strength of the material used in rebuilding.
A double Piscina rarely exists in old Churches which are not Cathedrals. Thanks to the presence of the high pew this escapee annihilation in the work of rebuilding just referred to, but it was with much difficulty that we succeeded in removing the masonry which filled up and concealed this archaeological treasure from view. A double Piscina reveals ritual of the twelfth century. In removing the plaster from the face of the south wall between the two windows, the following pencilled words were discovered on their respective layers of old whitewash. They tell their own story: "Blanchie 1801". "Blanchie 1797." "Blanchie 1793.' "Blanchie 1789."
In order to give greater dignity to this portion of the Church, it was decided that the Pavement should be, not of the ornamental tiles now so common, but of faced slabs of Jersey granite, the design selected representing the waves of the sea breaking in upon the shore. The grey granite was obtained from Plemont, the red from La Moye, the blue from Ronez, and the white steps from l'Etacq.
Strong retaining walls were built underneath the various step*
placed across the Chancel and before pointing the joints of the pavement, liquid cement was poured over the surface in such quantities as to fill up the vacuum below, solidifying the whole mass and preventing the pavement from "slipping".
The east wall in this section was underpinned by us internally but the south wall did not require it to a great extent.
There seems to be no doubt that the Tower was at first a "Lantern Tower"—in other words, that it had no floor. But, at some date unknown, arches of the roughest and crudest description were inserted in the arches of the crossing under the Tower, at about six feet below the vaulting of the Nave the existing arches being ruthlessly hacked about to receive them.
We had no hesitation in removing them because they were an eyesore, obstructing the view in the Church; because they interfered with the outlines of the arch of the roof of the Nave and of that of the Chancel, the apex of these being only visible from the Belfry; and because they were evidently not inserted to strengthen the Tower walls, not being built immediately under them. But to be honest and to show that the altered vaulting is modern, faced- stone of La Moye red granite has been used instead of pebbles. This new work is of a very strong character, every stone used to build the various ridges being keyed.
What now forms the Belfry floor is a solid mass of concrete, extending downwards to the stone- work of the Vaulting. The civil records of the Parish allude to "a Royal Commission having been appointed to dispose of the five Bells in St. Brelade's Church"—in 1550. It was, therefore, interesting to discover five plugged holes in the old Vaulting through which the bell-ropes were formerly inserted. The present Bell, which is still rung from inside the Church and which dates from the year 1883, is really too heavy for the Tower. Various signs of settlement led us to insert two steel girders across the Tower space in the north and south walls of the Belfry. We also strengthened the Tower piers (which had been weakened by burials) by building strong retaining-walls below the floor-line from pier to pier. The stone staircase leading originally from the Chancel to the Rood Screen, and now to the Belfry, is built entirely of large pebbles. There are evidences of an old doorway in the south-east corner of the Belfry. The South Transept. A very important discovery was made when the plaster was being removed from the east wall. It was the right-hand side and a portion of the arch of a very ancient exit from this Transept (perhaps by a covered way into the "Fisherman's Chapel" ?) The work is some of the oldest in the Church, and has been left unencumbered by the Organ floor. It is instructive to note that the buttress immediately on the left of this opening is built against the old wall-line. This leads to the likely conclusion that the old outlet was partly broken up when the Tower was added, or when, at some early date, it needed strengthening. The present doorway in the south wall is not original; it may have been opened out when the recently-restored West Porch entrance was masoned up.
The Organ floor now takes the place of the old "Police Gallery" which was erected in the year 1794. The three-light window in the west wall was inserted by us, and so were the corbels in the east and west walls as supports to the new Organ floor. The earth below the floor level was crowded with human remains.
Commencing with the eastern portion of this section, we find that the face of the large window in the south wall near the Pulpit is cut hack This was done in the middle of the nineteenth century in order to insert an additional pew facing north. The old wall-line was intact below the pew level, but was removed by us for the sake of more space. I have already referred to the lancet window discovered in this (south wall) of the Nave. Its outline can be traced on the outside. But its location there presents a difficulty
It will be noticed that a buttress, rising from the earth line, is broken off just below the centre of the large window (an additions proof that the latter is of comparatively modern date) but careful measurements reveal the fact that the buttress in question would have been in the way of the lancet-window!
The original Church, therefore, must have extended some distance westwards beyond the present space under the Tower; the buttress being broken off and a lancet-window inserted. This is proved by the wall being found plastered behind the easternmost buttress-arch in the Nave; by the discovery that the stones forming. an arch in the extreme south-east corner of the south wall are behind the buttress—those visible being the second line of stones and by the fact that the buttress-arch is built against an older arch
The second (central) window has also undergone various alterations, the line of the right-hand jambs of an older window being easily traceable.
The westernmost window in the south wall evidently takes the place of an old doorway. The footstep—a large pebble—and the two sides of an exit were discovered when we removed the plaster and they have been left exposed. From this footstep westwards and along the west wall as far as the south-west extremity of the Nave-Arcade, the Church had no foundations below the floor-lint
In underpinning this portion we went down to the solid rock. The mortar used in the masonry of the Vaulting from the last buttress westwards also differs from that used in the remainder of the Nave
It is, therefore, my opinion that the original Nave did not extend beyond the westernmost buttress—that the present outside arch of the Nave-Aisle west doorway, which is much older ("rope-wor design" of the twelfth century) than the base, formed the head of the original doorway in the south wall of the Nave, and that the later addition to the Nave accounts for the fourteenth-century double arch in the west wall of the Church, as seen from the Porch
Interesting was the discovery made in connection with this western exit. I refer, firstly, to the hollowed-out corbels, on either side into which the posts of the doors were fixed (similar projection must have existed at the base also); and, secondly, to the holes in the north and south walls into which the bar which secured the closed doors was inserted.
The present window in the west gable had presumably been partly destroyed at the time the Porch was added. It had been restored on its old lines.
The Arcade dividing the Nave from the Nave-Aisle was inserted into the original boundary north wall of the Nave when the Nave Aisle was added, presumably at two periods. How can the existence of pure Norman pillars supporting the Gothic arches be explained otherwise?
The earlier portion of the Nave-Aisle was evidently erected in Norman days and the latter when the Gothic style or architecture had established itself locally. May not a conflict of opinion have asserted itself at that period between the champions of both schools, leading eventually to a compromise whereby the added portion of the Aisle (from the third pillar westwards) copied the three Norman pillars for the added (fourth) pillar and removed the three original Norman arches, rebuilding them and the fourth arch in the Gothic style ? It may be stated that the same architectural features exist in many Churches in Normandy and Brittany—and also, I am told, in Gloucester Cathedral.
It will be seen how irregularly the buttress-arches were cut into. We have not "bracketed" them, but left them in their natural roughness to tell their own tale. The safety of the pillars of this Arcade supporting the immense weight of two stone roofs—-each four to five feet in thickness—had been jeopardised by the in- discriminate way in which excavations for burials had been made.
The easternmost pillar was practically without foundations—the human remains having gradually lowered the earth level—and a large rent, six inches in width—extended upwards from the line of the pillar, across the roof, to the apex of the large window near the pulpit.
The foundation under the second pillar was fairly solid, but graves had been dug in a line with it to a depth of ten feet. Very strong beds of concrete have been laid to secure the Arcade.
How narrowly this Arcade escaped disaster, from an archaeological point of view, is proved by the following copies of Entries in the. Ecclesiastical records of the Parish :
"(a) Le Comite pour examiner l'etat de l’eglise a resolu de recommander a 1'Assemblee de fair demolir le pilier le plus reppeche da centre de l'Eglise entre le bane de Mons. De Noirmont et celui de Thomas De Bourcier, et de reunir les deux arches, moyennant la sanction de Mons. le Doyen, (16th October, 1843).
"(b) Le Comite (Paroissial) s'etant reuni dans l'Eglise le 24 Octobre, 1843, a confirme le Rapport ci-dessus."
We actually discovered the suggested alignment of the new arch, drawn in pencil, on the plaster on the south wall of the Nave-Aisle.
The timely intervention of Mr. (afterwards Sir) John Le Couteur —who had been temporarily absent from the Island—saved the day.
"(c) L'Assemblee ayant considere un plan suggere par Jean Le Couteur ecr. d'apres lequel le pilier subsisterait, a charge le Comite de prendre le sujet en plus ample consideration, et d'en faire rapport a l'Assemblee." (26th October, 1843).
"(d) Le plan suggere par Jean Le Couteur ecr. a ete approuve." (1st November. 1843.)
The Winchester Diocesan Society made a grant of £150 to the Restoration Fund, on condition that, in the new arrangements for the pews, this Arcade should be left free.
There is no doubt that, following the inclination of the ground on which the Church is built, the original floor line was on a slight slope from the west towards the east, as far, at any rate, as the Transepts; and a very interesting feature is that the Arcade itself is built on the slope. After taking accurate measurements, it was found that the difference of level in the original floor at the west end and at the Transepts was about twelve inches, and we have restored it accordingly. There was, I am told by very old parishioners, a corbel on the left side of the east wall of the Nave corresponding to that on the right side. The corbels were placed there to receive some "figures" (perhaps the patron Saint?) In demolishing the foundations of the old pulpit, which stood very nearly where the modern one is placed, the base of such a figure—carved in Caen stone—showing the feet and the folds and tassel of the robes, was discovered among the debris.
A gallery was removed by us from the west end, and, in olden days, another extended along the whole length of the north wall of the Nave. On removing the plaster from the walls and vaulting of this section, we found that, upwards from the springing of the buttress-arches, the masonry of the roof was independent of that of the buttress, and that the free space between the upper masonry of the apex, sufficient space existed to permit one of the workmen to insert an arm.
The question arises as to whether these buttress-arches may not have been erected first, and used afterwards as supports for the temporary "dummy" wooden roof on which the stone-vaulting was built?
Evidence of planks having been "slipped" against the plaster-joints were distinctly visible along the roof internally.
The present West Porch was perhaps added at the same time as the suggested addition to the Nave, but, very clearly, was given up as an entrance and in 1839 was transformed into a Vestry —the present doorway in the South Transept being opened out.
The Stoup in the north wall of this Porch was, in Roman days, for "holy water", and the pottery utensil which was presumably used for that purpose was found, in fragments, in situ, together with, oddly enough, five old cannon-balls, when the plaster was removed from the masoned up stoup. It may not be generally known that a pitched battle was fought in St. Brelade's Bay between the Royalist Islanders and the invading Parliamentarians. The latter were victorious and are stated to have used the Church as a stable for their horses. (We found evidences of fire places having existed against the north-west wall of the Chancel and in the south-eastern corner of the South Porch.) Much damage is said to have been done to the building, and, during the excavations which were made in the Chancel, some well-preserved pieces of the original tracery of the east window, together with quantities of broken stained-glass, were unearthed. Some samples, which I sent to an Exhibition of stained-glass then being held in London, were pronounced to be of the eleventh century.
The exit from this Porch into the Churchyard takes the place of the original doorway which had been partly broken when the west entrance was masoned up. The lower jambs, showing both on the outside and on the inside, were found in situ some three feet below the level of the Churchyard, and the new arch was rebuilt on the disclosed original lines. The three-light window in the south wall replaces an ugly square modern one. The steps (made semi-circular to ease off the peculiar angle of the structure) are of white l’Etacq granite and the pavement of white and red squares from the La Moye quarries.
The roof here is without buttress-arches and of a much higher "pitch" than the Nave. It is about five feet in thickness and beautifully keyed with large pebbles. This we discovered when we opened out the gable for the insertion of the present west window, which replaces a comparatively modern one.
I have already referred to the Chausey stone inside-arch of the original window. The actual thickness of the roof may easily be gauged by measuring the distance from the apex of the arch of the distance from the outside.
The west entrance was, at the time of the Restoration, on a much higher level than at present. The original archway had been raised by the introduction, one either side, of a red granite jamb, two feet
nine inches in depth. By excavating we followed the chamfered line of the doorway below ground, and at a similar depth (two feet nine inches) we brought to light the fourteenth-century "stop" and, finally, the old footstep in situ. This discovery, together with that, somewhat later, at a similar depth, of the old entrance into the west Porch, which has been mentioned above, led us to restore the Churchyard to its original level. The way to this Nave-Aisle entrance from the Churchyard was along a gravel path, four feet in width. Grave-spaces abounded everywhere, but the allotment of new burying-plots to the various interested owners made the task easy. The present retaining walls from this Nave-Aisle entrance upwards to the west gateway, and from thence eastwards to the "Fisherman's Chapel", show, at a glance, the extent of the work of excavation. The course of the Churchyard right against the Church on its west and south sides, followed the levels of the portions now held up by the retaining walls. The arch of the entrance into the Nave-Aisle was again lowered to its original position.
The Font is another archaeological treasure of the Church. It is original, made up of two blocks of Chausey granite, rudely chamfered. It disappeared from the Church during the Commonwealth troubles, but I now hold a letter written to me by the lady who paid for the platform on which the Font now rests, and who says: "My Father found the old Font hidden among furze-bushes on the hill-slope behind the Church when at a picnic party there with others" (some sixty years ago).
"Deux anciennes pierres, formant des fonts baptismaux, trouvres, sur la propriete de La Moye, appartenant probablement dans lorigine h l'Eglise de cette Paroisse, ont ete transportees dans le portique de la dite Eglise, en presence du Recteur, des Surveillants. etc" (Acte Ecclesiastique Lundi le 10 Fevrier 1845)
The arches and jambs of the windows in the north wall of the Nave-Aisle are original, but much trouble was experienced in finding their outlines, masonry having been built against them to such an extent that no "splay" existed. The tracery and the mullion of the easternmost window follow the lines of the old work which had been cut away.
It will be seen that the arch leading into the North Transept is not central with the wall. And there are unmistakable traces that an entrance existed here before the Nave-Aisle was added. The two jambs on the left side, at the springing, differ from the upper pebble-jambs and look like the remains of an older arch. Besides this, there is a chamfered recess, on either side of the arch, evidently made for the reception of a bar wherewith to secure the door. May this not have been the entrance for the guns belonging to the Militia? We know that some of them were kept in the "Fishermen's Chapel," but the finding of cannon-balls below the floor-line leads one to suppose that some were also stationed in the Church itself. The large east window in the Chancel, I may here state, was known among the very old people when I first came to the Parish as, "la fenetre endessus de la Batterie".
There is a fine retaining-arch in the east wall of the Nave-Aisle and such is the strength of that portion of the Church that, when the present ventilating lancet-windows were inserted, it was with the greatest difficulty that the masonry was removed. We found that some portions of the Church had become weakened by damp but the quicklime and burnt sea-shells originally poured in a liquid state into the masonry, filling up every crevice and solidifying the mass, as previously described, had not deteriorated here. The openings along the vaulting of the north and south walls of this section were, it is likely, made to receive the beams on which must have rested the temporary wooden "dummy-roof" necessary for the building of the arched-vaulting. Those holes penetrated more deeply into the walls than appears at present, but we were compelled to mason them up partially owing to the nests which birds, finding access through the ventilating windows, persisted in building.
In the North-Transept are strong piers supporting the saddle-back Tower, which scarcely needs them. They are a portion of the original monastic building. When the various roofs of the Church were re-tiled in 1884, the flat wooden roof, tiled over, which then covered this Transept, was removed, and the original lines of roofs, as they appear at the present time were disclosed. Was the wooden-roof placed there to check the damp which, even to-day, periodically manifests itself? It is supposed that a well may exist in their neighbourhood. There existed in former days a Gallery (removed in 1843) called "La Galerie aux Fumeurs", against the North wall of this Transept, with an entrance from the outside.
The Chancel Aisle (the "Chapel of St. Mary") is proved to be an addition by the buttress, originally an external one, incorporated into the pillar in the south wall, and also by the projecting straight line below the springing of the vaulting which formed the "drip line" of the old roof.
Holes identical to those in the walls of the Nave-Aisle exist here, likely for a similar purpose. The small Sanctuary was—perhaps for centuries—the only one in use until the Restoration of the present Chancel to its original purpose. The Piscina, filled with broken stained-glass, was unplastered by my predecessor. The two small Flags—very much tattered—fixed against the north wall, belonged to the old South-West Regiment of the Jersey Militia. The two Flags which, till the year A.D. 1922, hung from the east wall, belonged to the "Newfoundland Fencible Regiment". At the request of the Government of Newfoundland they were returned to them and they now hang in the Museum of the Historical Society of Newfoundland.
This Aisle contains many memorial-tablets of the Pipon and Le Couteur families.
The human remains found below the floor-line in all parts of the Church were carefully gathered, and reverently re-buried in the Churchyard. And, in order to ensure a solid foundation for the floors, macadam, twelve inches deep, was rammed into the soil. The same thickness of concrete covers the macadam, and the wood-blocks are fixed into a layer of tar.
Special care has been taken, as a precautionary measure against damp, not to use sea-gravel for any of the works of the Restoration. Such gravel was used in building the massive gables of the Church. We found these in a "dripping" condition, but the small ventilating channels, cemented, which we built into the external walling, though an attraction for swarms of bees have proved successful. Slate damp-courses have also been built, against the external walls, and the various gable-ridges have been re-pointed in cement. -
Effective ventilation for the Church has been provided by the building of two small windows in the west gable. of the Nave, of two in the east wall of the Nave-Aisle, of two in the wall of the North Transept, and of one respectively in the east and west walls of the Chancel Aisle. Brass ventilators have also been fixed in the sills of most of the windows.
We found evidence—in the shape of a large stone platform— that the pulpit, at some remote period, stood in the north-east corner of the Nave-Aisle.
The only relics discovered during the internal excavations are: an old altar candlestick; a Processional Cross (thirteenth century); a ring; and various copper coins. In the external east wall of the Chancel—in a masoned-up recess—(perhaps built as a hiding- place for treasure by some private individual?) the hollow base of an old pottery-urn was found.
Some attempts at fresco-painting had been made—traces being discovered: on a small space against the east Chancel-wall; on both sides of the plastered upright stone dividing the double Piscina in the Chancel; and on the east wall of the Nave, above the Corbel, near the Pulpit. These were undecipherable—the red colour alone remaining. Along the west wall of the South Transept various pencilled nautical designs had been drawn on the first layer of the plaster.
The work of Restoration was carried out in sections, the arches along the Nave and Chancel being boarded up. We were thus able to hold the regular Services in the Church throughout without much inconvenience.
The Underpinning of the External Walls. I have already described the work connected with restoring the Churchyard to its old level on the south and west sides, but an examination of the external walls below the surface revealed a state of things which caused us much anxiety. The huge buttress which forms the north-west angle of the Nave-Aisle had no foundations whatever; these, in common with those of the other buttresses along the different walls of the Church, having evidently been removed to give space for burials. All buttresses have been carefully underpinned and a retaining wall, which encloses the drain-waterpipes, has been built along the north and east walls.
Underpinning of a much more serious character was found to be necessary along the north and east walls of the Chancel-Aisle, and along the east wall of the Chancel. At the north-east angle of the Chancel-Aisle, whilst the work was proceeding, the earth suddenly gave way, and three men fell headlong into the cavity, eight feet in depth, caused by the subsidence of decayed coffins. The undermined foundations of the Church were exposed and incessant day and night work became urgent in order to secure the gable. For, proceeding southwards along the Chancel-boundary, the state of the foundations was still more alarming, excavations, even of recent date, having been made under the Church-walls for the reception of coffins. This explained why the east wall showed internal signs of subsidence. Indeed, a rent was easily traceable from the apex of the Chancel-Aisle window, across the vaulting and extending to the east gable of the Chancel. It was evident that the east end was gradually becoming detached from the main building. The new foundations are laid at a depth varying from eight to ten feet and a "set off" some four feet wide extends eastwards along the whole length of the east wall.
At the spot where the Chancel and the Chancel-Aisle converge, at about three feet below the surface we discovered what I believe to be the foundation-stone of the Church. It is a large Chausey-granite block, lying at the angle of the east wall and of the original north wall of the Chancel, on a bed of introduced clean silver-sand. The corner-stone is about four feet in length on the east side and apparently about the same length on the north side. The serious state of the foundations did not, at that moment, permit of closer examination, but, at a small cost, the investigation can take place at any time. We have left exposed the original outside alignment of the Chancel. It shows that at the point of its juncture with the Chancel-Aisle, the buttress on the north side was left in situ by those who added the latter portion.
The mullions and tracery of the east window are unfortunately of local granite, jarring with the old Chausey-stone of the frame. They were put in in 1857. The recess at the external apex of this window is about two feet in depth, and was built for the reception of an image. Plugged holes in the sides show that it was secured by iron bars.
The south wall of the chancel, though requiring attention, was in a much sounder state of preservation, the foundation—consisting of pebbles, nearly six feet in length, and laid transversely—being at a much greater depth than on the east side. At the south-east angle, eighteen inches inside the line of the Church wall, a huge corner-stone, resting on hard "dunne", was not disturbed. The external "set-off" of this section penetrates into the wall of the Tower-turret. The outer wall of this turret is only a few inches in thickness. The exit from the old doorway in the east wall of the South Transept (already referred to*) is blocked by a turret-wall. All this is evidence that the Tower is not coeval with the original building.
The pathway leading from the South Porch to the steps at the west end of the "Fishermen's Chapel" was found to be paved. It is evidently what remains of the old Sanctuary "way-of-escape" for ecclesiastical prisoners. The stone-staircase by which they reached the sea still exists.
The stone platform from which parochial notices were read after mid-day Mass on Sundays was also found below ground in the south-eastern corner of the entrance to the South Transept. Here was also held the ancient custom of branding with a special mark (for identification purposes) the sheep of the farmers of the parish on a given Sunday, after Mass. Sheep rearing was the principal farming industry, the wool being exported to England (hence the names "Jersey" and "Guernsey" still given to certain articles of clothing).
The whole of the south wall of the Nave was underpinned, except that portion bounded by the Pipon sepulchre, where a vault was in the way.
The central window in this external wall has a fleur-de-lys hood (fourteenth century).
The Tower and, perhaps, the whole of the exterior, was, at one time, whitewashed.
The various excavations carried out revealed one of the reasons why the Church has for so many centuries stood practically intact. (For, be it remembered, the stone-work, as it stands to-day, is the original work, with the exception of the new Vaulting under the Tower, of the restored Nave door-way, of the Pavements, of restored Chausey-stone Windows, and of the invisible underpinning.)
The soil is sandy to a depth of about four feet; below the sand is a stratum of a brown formation, locally called "dunne"—also about four feet in depth. It is exceedingly hard, and is breakable only by the repeated thrusts of the pick-axe. The Church is built on "dunne"—hence its stability. Below the "dunne' is found yellow sand, and, lower still, sand with sea-shells. Some of the Crosses on the gables are original—that on the east end of the "Fishermen's Chapel" representing a monk fully robed. The Celtic Turret leading up to the Tower points once again to Irish influence. It will be noticed that this Turret is loop-holed— doubtless for defensive military purposes.
The Sundial bears the following inscription:
"L'Homme est semblable a la vanite:
"ses jours sont comme une ombre qui passe."
Ps. 144, v. 4.
New lead gutters were fixed by us to replace defective ones. Originally they were in Chausey-stone, that on the east side of the North Transept being still in situ below the lead. Traces of at least three successive periods of roof-tiling were found below the present roofing against the west gable of the Nave- Aisle—the first being of blue stone-slate—similar to the present covering of the "Fishermen's Chapel"—and the next two of red tiles.
A well-preserved Gargoyle is found in the West gable—that in the East gable having evidently been destroyed.
The stone required for the rebuilding of the Windows and Door- ways was imported from the Island of Chausey. Chausey, situated near Granville on the Brittany coast, was formerly one of the Channel Islands but it gradually passed under French influence, and then into French possession, owing to the indifference of the British Crown.
The Chausey granite is of a much coarser grain than that of Jersey and, therefore, more easily dressed. This explains why our old buildings, our ancient harbour works, and the sills and carved portions of early windows and doorways, are all of Chausey stone.
The Church is very rich in carved-oak furniture (by Knox, of Fennington Lane, London)—the gift of various friends.
The designs gained the distinction of being approved by the Council of the Royal Academy, and of being exhibited on the walls of its architectural section.
The carved Inscription on the Pulpit is the happy rendering of Prove XXV, II, found by me in the fragment of a very old bible:
"Telles que sont les pommes d'or emailles d'argent, telle est la parole dit comme il faut".
The magnificent stained-glass in the Nave and Nave-Aisle, in the North Transept, also in the southernmost window of the Chancel, represents the work of our distinguished countryman, Mr. H. T. Bosdet.
May I say, in conclusion, that this great work of Restoration could never have been carried out so thoroughly and so conscientiously without the generous monetary aid, and the personal sympathy and encouragement of a host of friends. A sum exceeding £6,000 has been voluntarily subscribed, and I feel assured, well spent. To all contributors I personally owe a great debt of gratitude, as well as to Mr. C. B. Bone and to Mr. Coles, of the firm of Messrs. Rogers, Bone and Coles, of 7 Carteret Street, Westminster, who, as our Architects, have done so much for the success of the Restoration. I feel proud to have been the humble means of preserving to posterity the ancient Church which, in the words of the late Bishop Lyttleton is "unique in Christendom".