Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Parish Church of Saint Mary, Jersey, Channel Islands

The earliest known mention of St. Mary's church is in 1042, when Guillaume, Duc de Normandie, later William the Conqueror of England, gave to the Abbey of Cerisy in Normandy two "free" churches in Jersey, St. Mary and St. Martin (ecclesia Sancta Maria arsi monasterii et Sancti Martini veteris), with lands and a third of their wheat tithes and their advowsons. The name, St. Mary of the Burnt Monastery, suggests that the church was built on, or near the actual site of a primitive monastery which was destroyed by pirates. The fire, at whatever date it occurred, would have made building, or rebuilding, a matter of urgency.

It seems likely that this monastery at St. Mary was a daughter establishment of the known monastic centre in Sark, founded in about 570 by St. Maglorius (St. Mannelier) within sight and comparatively easy reach of the St. Mary coastline.

Lady Chapel (North Chancel) with remains of Norman Windows in the East Wall.

The evolution of the church building can be seen from the above photograph. In the earliest portion, the present north-east chapel, traces of two windows of the 11th or early 12th century date and of clear Norman type, were exposed on the east wall in 1978. This highly important discovery shows the only known instance of Norman windows in an east end in a local parish church.

South Chancel and High Altar 
Also revealed during the re plastering in 1977 was the piscina (on the right in this photograph) circa, 1342. Also an aumbry (on the left in this photograph). There are granite brackets on the east end wall which would have supported statues before the Reformation, possibly of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John.

View showing the vaulted roof.

The vaulted roof is of interest. The north, the oldest part, is supported with strong ribs at intervals, approximating to the buttresses on the outside, and this part of the roof is noticeably higher than the later, southern part.

The present pews, made of Gothenburg pine and were installed in 1865.

A large oak plaque, carved in relief.

In 1973 a large oak plaque, carved in relief, was presented by Major amd Mrs Gordon Rice and accepted by the Ecclesiastical Assembly for errection in the Parish Church. It depicts Christ and St. Margaret Mary, the 17th century nun and visionary of Paray-le-Monial who emphasised the love of Christ by encouraging devotion to His Sacred Heart.

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