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Thomas de Soulemont: Our Man in Whitehall

The main source for this section is Balleine's Biographical dictionary; also Societe Jersaise Bulletin article; also Balleine's History of Jersey, and Balleine's Popular History of the Church of England.

Narrator 1

In 1533, Thomas de Soulemont became Rector of Grouville. This was the age of King Henry the Eighth: a time of greatness!

Thomas was the French Secretary to the King, resident at the Royal Court in England. This notable and learned man would have known many great statesmen, such as Thomas Cromwell, the King's Chancellor, and Thomas Cramner, Archbishop of Canterbury.

De Soulemont was a Jerseyman who had left the Island to live in London.

Narrator 2

Left the Island? Yet he still became Dean of Jersey and Rector of Grouville, and continued to draw his salary, while never doing any Parish work.

Narrator 1 (harshly)

That was accepted practice for those times.

Narrator 2

Shall I tell you another accepted practice of those times?

French Bibles, that the Jerseyman can understand, are not permitted. But Jacques Frere, a brave Frenchman, translated the Bible into French, and slowly copies filtered through to Jersey. But it was dangerous.

(two people slide in from the side and move to the centre)


Have you got the Bible?


Yes, here it is

(hands over Bible)

But be careful. They tell me another man was burnt in Normandy for having a French Bible.

(they move off)

Narrator 2

And let me tell you of yet another accepted practice of those times.

(enter shabby pardoner, jangling money tin)


Indulgences! Indulgences!

Hear this, good people:

For every coin that goes into my tin,
You pay to take away your sin.
The treasures of Christ are ours to sell
So pay now and escape from Hell.

(people enter and pay pardoner, there is quite a chatter)

Narrator 2

They know not what they do!

(suddenly there is a noise of smashing glass, and a yell)

Narrator 1

What's happening?

Narrator 2 (calmly)

In 1546, a Royal Injunction decreed that, henceforth, all stained glass windows were to be destroyed, and all wall paintings to be blotted out with white lime.

(the people are looking about, confused. The pardoner takes to his heels and runs! We now hear a sound of smashing plaster/stone)

Narrator 2

Henceforth, the crucifixes are to be destroyed, and statues and other images abolished.

(we hear a loud bell ringing once. )

Narrator 2

All bells but one are to be taken down and sold.

Narrator 1

And what of the new Rector, Jacques Chevalier?

Narrator 2

Here he is now.

(Jacques Chevalier enters, carrying the same large Bible seen before; he gestures to crowd who file into pews)

Jacques Chevalier

Pax Vobiscum. Peace be with you, my friends. Be seated. Look, I am still here. I know that much has changed, and it seems strange, but I am still with you. That will not change, I assure you!

(enter Court Official, bearing scroll. He stops by Chevalier and. begins to read)


Jacques Chevalier. You are charged with maintaining practices that have been banned as superstitious. You are ordered to appear before the sitting of Royal Court on the year of our Lord, 4th May, 1548.

(rolls up scroll and waits)

Jacques Chevalier

Do not fear. Place your trust in our Lord.

(they leave, the Official tugging Chevalier firmly out)

Narrator 1

So even the Rector has been swept aside in this so-called .Reformation!. And so much that is great has perished, lost forever to all future generations.

(lights dim)


No more stained glass windows!


No more the sound of the Church bells


No more paintings on -the walls!


No more colour in the Church!


No more processions.


No more passion plays.


No more priests.

Narrator 1 (harshly)

You have heard my case! What do you say

(lights come up)

Narrator 2

Even now we can hardly think of this destruction without regret. But nothing less than this would have killed the old superstitions.

If the choice lay between the gospel and the preservation of the past, there could be no doubt which it was right to sacrifice, even if the decision was a painful one.

But you paint the picture too black. Jacques Chevalier, our Rector, did go to Court. But John de Soulemont and John Payn stood up for him, and vouched for his good character, so charges against him were dropped.

(Chevalier returns, holding large Bible, to deliver short homily, climbs pulpit)

Jacques Chevalier

Nil Desparandum! Never despair! You see my friends, I am reunited with you once more. On this happy occasion, let me share with you the hope that sustained me through my time of trial.

We are not saved by pious observances but by faith alone.

So I say to you: Cast yourself in simple faith directly at the feet of Christ Give up trying to earn salvation and trust Him to save you.

So let it be. Amen!

(he closes Bible, leaves pulpit, and shakes hand with people as the depart, then leaves himself)