Grouville Church


Grouville Church

Grouville Church is one of the twelve ancient parish churches in the Island of Jersey; it is sited on the east of the Island in the parish of Grouville.

Name of the Church

The dedication of Grouville Church is "St Martin de Grouville", thus distinguishing it from St Martin's Church, where the dedication is "St Martin le Vieux"; this indicates that Grouville was founded some time after the foundation of St Martin.

History of Grouville Church

Foundation

It was one of the eight Jersey Parish Churches from which Duke William (later William the Conqueror) took half their tithes to endow the Abbey of Montvilliers. It apparently belonged to the Bisson family in the early days. On July 25, 1149, Godfrey du Bisson gave to the Abbey at Lessay "the church of St Martin Grouville, with its alms and tithes". In 1315 Sir Yon de Bisson tried to recall this gift and challenged the right of the Abbot of Lessay to appoint the Rector on the ground that patronage belonged to his family; he withdrew his claim before it came to Court.

The church contains ornamental buttresses resting against the outside walls and slim Norman windows, letting in little light, that date from before William, Duke of Normandy, conquered England. A stone spire was built in the 13th Century by stonemakers from Normandy.

Black Death

In the 14th Century, the South Chapel was built due to an increase in population but during the Black Death, the population decreased and a gargoyle head was carved on an early Piscina in the Church. The population later recovered and increased in the 15th Century when elegant later Piscinas were used and larger windows were fitted. The North Chapel was also built with money given by the Amy family.

Reformation

In the time of Henry VIII, the Rector of Grouville was Thomas de Soulemont, an absentee Rector, who spent much of his time at Court in England, as French Secretary to Henry VIII, and also Private Secretary to Thomas Cromwell.

The Reformation caused the alter and screen to be removed and replaced with the pulpit, which was now prominent. French prayer book of Calvin was used instead of an English prayer book, as English was not spoken in Jersey at the time.

Huguenots

In 1572, a massacre of Protestants in France caused many of them to travel to Jersey as refugees and in 1667, the French Prayer Book was replaced by a Freench Translation of the Book of Common Prayer. Around this time, Grouville acquired a silver collecting plate, and finely wrought silver chalices. Cannons were also kept in the back of the church to defend against the threat of invasion by French troops. In order to keep these cannons, the entrance to the church had to be enlarged.

Battle of Jersey

In 1781, a French invasion force landed at La Rocque. The main army marched to St Helier (where the Battle of Jersey) took place, but a contingent remained at La Rocque. Francois Le Couteur, then Rector of St Martin, arrived at La Rocque with his own two cannons and urged the more cautious military commander to attack; after some hesitation, the grenadiers were ordered to charge the enemy, defeating the French rearguard. 8 years later, Le Couteur became Rector of Grouville where he cultivated large orchards, and made Jersey cider, also writing books about how to make the best cider, and how to cultivate the finest apple trees, Collections at this time were now taken in Georgian collecting jars. Services would have seen the introduction of fine pieces of Georgian silver: a jug and a baptismal bowl.

Victorian Changes

By the early 19th Century, the church suffered from rising damp and needed repairs. Restoration was carried out by Abraham Le Sueur and Bertrand Payn, who made stained glass windows for the church.

Bibliography

*Balleine's Biographical Dictionary of Jersey
*Balleine's History of Jersey
*The Cartulaire of Jersey,
*Copies and transcriptions of original documents by Thomas de Soulemont, Daniel Brevint and Abraham Le Sueur in the Societe Jersaise Library
*The Bulletin of the Société Jersiaise
*Jersey Churches by Paul Harrison
*Channel Island Churches, McCormack
*" [http://www.societe-jersiaise.org/whitsco/grou1.htm A Brief History of Grouville Church] ", A.M. Bellows. URL last accessed 2007-02-15.


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