BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us


You are in: Guernsey > Faith > St Martin's Church

St Martin's Church

St Martin's Parish Church.

St Martin's Church

A brief history of the 13th Century South-East Parish Church.

Pre-Reformation Font

Only pre-Reformation Font in the island.

St Martin's was the sixth Parish Church thought to be granted in 1048 by William "Prince of the Normans" to Albert "Abbot of Marmoutier near Tours".

The church is therefore thought to bear its name because St Martin had been associated with the Tours when he was an officer in the army serving Gaul in the 4th Century.

It dates from around 1225 with the centrally situated tower (similar to the one at the Forest), nave and chancel completed by 1250. In the early 14th Century the size of the church was almost doubled by building a spacious north aisle.

St Martin de la Bellouse is the full name of the church, meaning "St Martin of the sloe-bushes".

West Window by Mary Eily De Putron

West Window by Mary Eily De Putron.

Interesting facts

  • The church sits on an ancient holy site; a Neolithic tomb-shrine.
  • The weights of the church bells are 448, 677 and 947 lbs.
  • The heavy tower piers, which remain almost untouched, are better than any other church in Guernsey.
  • The font, immediately inside the south door, is claimed to be the only pre-Reformation Font in the island.
  • The carved oak pulpit in the Breton style dates from 1657.
  • The clarinet on display was once used to accompany the choir prior to 1848 when the first organ was installed.
  • Miss Mary Eily De Putron designed and made the beautiful stained glass West Window in 1957, depicting Saint Martin in episcopal eucharistic robes.
Memorial tablets

The De Sausmarez memorial tablets.

Memorial Tablets

The De Sausmarez Family

On the east side of the western pillar is a marble tablet commemorating John De Sausmarez (1706-1711) and on the south side a similar one commemorates his son, Thomas (1756-1837).

The family pew lies between the two main pillars of the Tower.

The Carey Family

Originally they lived in the Vrangue Manor near St Peter Port, but Isaac Carey came to live at Le Vallon about 1790.

Memorial tablets

The Carey family memorial tablets.

There is a tablet to de Vic Carey and to Frances Henrietta Priaulx, his wife, on the south pillar of the tower. There are also tablets to Major General de Vic Francis Carey, his wife, Harriet Gosselin, and his brother, Laurence St George.

The Major General's sons, Major de Vic Carey and Bertram de Vic Carey are also commemorated in tablets.

On the south-east pillar of the Tower there is a tablet to Edith Frances Carey, his daughter, the author of 'The History of the Channel Islands' and a great authority on Guernsey Folk Lore.

On the North wall of the church there is a memorial to Adelaide Jeffreys, the wife of Sir Victor Gosselin Carey who was Bailiff of Guernsey from 1935-1946 and who lived at the Vallon until his death in 1957.

The bells and clock

The three church bells were recast by a French bell-founder, Jean Baptiste Brocard at Glategny in St Peter Port in September 1736.

They are hung in a frame in the third storey of the tower, above the clock chamber.

La Gran mere du Chimquiere

La Gran Mere du Chimquiere.

The clock was installed by Peter Le Page of St Peter Port in 1869, when the bells were fixed and the chiming apparatus installed.

La Gran'mère du Chimquière

This prehistoric female menhir stone figure guards the entrance to the churchyard. It has been shaped by carving and rubbing a natural granite boulder.

The carved facial features, hair and buttoned cape were added in the Gallo-Roman period around 100 BC to 100 AD.

In prehistoric times, the statue would have been idolised and in the 1700's it became the focus of witchcraft.

Even in the 19th century this activity is thought to have continued and it is believed that the crack in the statue resulted from the actions of an over-zealous church warden who wanted to stop this sort of worship.

Locals later repaired it and even to this day, people still place coins on her head or flowers around her neck for good luck.

last updated: 02/05/2008 at 11:28
created: 20/05/2005

You are in: Guernsey > Faith > St Martin's Church

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy