St Saviour's Church.
St Saviour's Church
A brief history of the largest of the Guernsey Parish Churches.
St Saviour's was the fourth church to be built in Guernsey. It is also the largest of the country churches and stands at the top of a valley overlooking the reservoir.
It took five months to construct and was dedicated and consecrated on 30 May 1154. However, the first mention of St Saviour's Church is in a charter about 1030.
Part of this impressive Church was built in the 12th century but most of it dates to the 14th and 15th centuries.
Inside St Saviour's Church.
The height and length of the church are exactly the same, but why?
"An old story tells of a dispute between the men engaged in building the tower. Some favoured a lofty one, others a short one. Tempers flared, and fighting was about to break out when the men suddenly became aware of a stranger standing in their midst.
The stranger told them not to quarrel over the height of the tower, but to build it as high as the church was long. The stranger then vanished. Accepting this a Divine command, the men built the tower to its present height." (Brief History of St Saviour's Church by Freddie Priaulx, P.10)
The menhir at St Saviour's Church.
A stone with two crosses cut into it (one on either side) serves as a gatepost at the north-east entrance. It is called a menhir - one of the standing stones that the pre-Christian inhabitants regarded as sacred.
There is also a stone bench which was used as a meeting place for the Lord of the manor, Fief Jean Gaillard.
The oldest gravestone is a short one, roughly made, of blue granite, near the south-west entrance. It is upside down and back to front and belongs to Nicholas Torode who died in 1602.
A blue-slate gravestone standing near the south-east boundary of the churchyard marks the burial place of 11 Irishwomen. They were passengers in the "Pitt" cutter wrecked off Perelle Bay in 1819.
The oldest gravestone at the church.
During the Occupation
The Germans used the tower as an Observation Post by constructing a chamber in the 35 metre high spire and cutting peep holes through the lead covering.
Russian and Polish slaves were also used to carve an extensive network of tunnels out of the granite rock. The tunnels were used as munitions stores as the Germans thought it was unlikely that the allies would bomb a Church.
On the largest of the three bells are the words:
"Je fus faite par Paul Bourdon A.D. 1680 aux frais de la Paroisse de Saint Sauveur de Guernsey et repondue par Viel Tetrel de Villedieu d'an de Grace 1856 aux frais de la dite paroisse...Sit Nomen Domini Benedictum".Roughly translated to:
"I was made by Paul Bourdon A.D. 1680 at the expense of the Parish of St Saviour of Guernsey and was answered by Viel Tetrel de Villedieu of the year of Thanks 1856 to the expenses of the known parish... Sit Nomen Domini Benedictum".
Stained glass window in the church.
On the smaller bells, the inscription is from the original cast in 1680 and says:
"IE FVS FAICTE L AN 1680 AVS FRAIS DE LA PAROISE DE ST. SAVVEVR DE GERNEZ."Roughly translated to:
"I was made in the year 1680 at the expense of the Parish of St Saviour of Guernsey."
last updated: 02/05/2008 at 11:15
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