A virtual tour of Jersey's historical coastline 3

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HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE

The route is divided into three sections: This is the second part, taking you from Gorey, past the famous Mont Orgueil Castle, to St Catherine's Breakwater and La Coupe in the north-east corner of the island, before heading along the rugged north coast to l'Etacq.

You can continue your journey by clicking on these links, which also appear at the bottom of this page

You can follow the many blue links in the text to background articles with more detail on many coastal locations. In addition to the many historical photographs used on the main page and accompanying background articles, you will also find links to pages with satellite views of many locations and Street Views of how they look today, as well as links to 360-degree pictures on another site. In all cases just use your browser's 'BACK' button to return to the route.

Just click on the familiar Google Earth logo
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for a satellite view of your route, or part of it, and the Street View man
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for a street level view of a location today

This is the third part of the Jerripedia tour of Jersey's coast, covering the section from l'Etacq in the north-west corner of the island to St Helier in an anti-clockwise direction

St Ouen's Bay

We have now turned the corner on to Jersey’s magnificent west coast, dominated by the long sweep of St Ouen’s Bay, which is one of the world’s favourite surfing venues, exposed as it is to the full might of the Atlantic Ocean. There is nothing between Jersey’s west coast and America.

At it’s northern end is L’Etacq , which is more important historically for what is no longer there, rather than what remains. There is evidence of a substantial forest just off the shore, large tree trunks frequently being oncovered, and it is believed that a lost manor once existed not far from the present coastline.

Many believe that the Manoir ds La Brecquette is more than a legend, and that it existed, perhaps as late as the 14th century. There is in existence an old document which suggests strongly that the manor and the forest disappeared in a great storm around 1350.

St Ouen’s Bay has many prehistoric remains, and also more recent defensive towers, including La Rocco Tower, which stands on a rock in the southern end of the bay. It’s most important feature is St Ouen's Pond, or La Mare au Seigneur, a large fresh water pond in the centre of the bay, owned by the Seigneur of St Ouen, and now cared for as a nature reserve by La Société Jersiaise.


A painting of Corbiere Lighthouse by P J Ouless
A drawing of the rocks at La Corbiere dated 1862 - 11 years before the lighthouse was built

La Corbière

We reach La Corbière via La Pulente at the end of St Ouen's Bay and the little cove of Petit Port. If Mont Orgueil Castle in the north-east of the island is arguably Jersey's most photographed landmark, the lighthouse at La Corbiere in the south-west must run it a close second. It has not been there for nearly so long, however. It was completed in 1873 on a rock some 500 metres from the shore, and was the first concrete lighthouse in the British Isles.

Given that shipwrecks have been recorded on the rocks off the south-west corner of the island since at least 1309, enriching many a Seigneur of St Ouen, who had rights to the wreckage, it might be thought to have been somewhat overdue.



St Brelade's Bay in 1860 - hardly a building in sight
In 1840 the church had St Brelade's Bay virtully to itself

St Brelade

We have now turned the corner to travel eastwards along Jersey's south coast, through the parish of St Brelade. Passing La Moie (or La Moye as it is usually spelt today), Fiquet Bay and the beautiful little bay at Beau Port, which was opened to the public by the heirs of Lord Trent, the founder of Boots the Chemist, before entering St Brelade's Bay. This is probably Jersey's most popular beach, for tourists and islanders alike, but it was not always as busy as it is today.

Beauport 360-degree panoramic view

Almost completely undeveloped until late in the 19th century, St Brelande's Bay was a favourite point for smugglers to land, and when Britain was at war with France the bay was heavily defended, for fear that it offered an ideal landing place for invading troops.

For centuries there were no roads leading down to the bay at either end, and yet the Parish Church was built on the shore at the western end of the bay. Why the St Breladais chose to put their church there is lost in the mists of time, although legend has it that they did not intend it to be built there at all. The story goes that construction started at Les Quennevais, near to the centre of population in the parish at the time (and again today). The only problem was that the area designated for the church was said to be the fairies' special place. Nevertheless, the workmen dug the church foundations, and laid stones and tools ready for the next day's work. But when they arrived, their stones and tools had been moved - they were found a mile away, on the beach!

Deciding that it wasn't the best place for a church, the workmen moved all the stones and tools back to the original site. But the next morning, everything had been moved down to the beach again - and that's where you'll find St Brelade's Church today. It seems as good an explanation as any.

La Cotte Point, home to some of Jersey's oldest residents

La Cotte

Now we cross the beach and, as the tide clears a rock outcrop, we stroll across the adjoining sands of Ouaisne, a much quieter beach, with a Martello tower built to defend it against invasion and the Old Smugglers Inn at the bottom of the hill leading out of the bay giving a clue to activities here in days gone by. But it is the next promontory which interests us. This is La Cotte Point, where a cave was hollowed out by the sea when it was 20 metres above today's level.

The cave has been the subject of a number of archaeological excavations since 1910 and evidence has been found of occupation by Neanderthals as much as 100,000 years ago. The entrance to the cave is sealed off.

Portelet Bay

Portelet

We continue round the coast into the pretty Portelet Bay, accessible by a steep pathway from the clifftop and dominated by an islet known as Ile au Guerdain, on which stands yet another martello tower. The islet is also known as Janvrin's tomb, after Philippe Janvrin, captain of the Esher, was quarantined there in 1721 after returning from France when the plague was at its height. He died and was buried on Ile au Guerdain within sight of his home.

Further along the coast is another substantial rock, Ile Percée, so called because the sea has pierced an opening right through the middle of the rock, which lies in the lee of Noirmont Point. This headland has long been part of Jersey's culture because the first sight from St Helier of vessels bound for the island's capital is as they round the point, and they disappear from sight here as they leave the island.

Islanders pronounce it Nor-mont, but it appears in old charters as Niger Mons (the Black Mount) and it is still covered in dark heather, standing out against the skyline. In 1643 Charles I rewarded Sir George de Carteret's service by giving him Noirmont and it passed down through private ownership until it was bought by the States after World War 2 as a permanent memorial to the suffering of islanders during the German Occupation.

The town of St Aubin in the 19th century

St Aubin

Heading north into the large bay of St Aubin we reach the town of the same name, with a small harbour full of pleasure vessels. This was once Jersey's main port, and a row of find houses along the quay are testimony to its affluence in the 18th and 19th centuries, when rich merchants built homes overlooking their businesses. Saint Aubin was the western terminus of Jersey's first railway line.

We head east towards St Helier, crossing the sand at low tide, which would once have been the only route. Today there is a busy coast road through La Haule, Beaumont and Bel Royal to St Helier (some would call it a perpetual traffic jam) and a pleasant promenade along the sea wall where the trains once ran.

We pass La Haule Manor, now a hotel, but formerly one of the island's foremost manor houses. The present building dates back only to the late 18th century, but this was the seat of the Dumaresq family, at least as early as 1430.

At the bottom of Beaumont Hill one of the cannon belonging to the parish of St Peter in the 17th century (each parish had two cannon, usually stored in the parish church) is on display on a covered plinth.

The centre of St Aubin's Bay when there were very few properties other than St Matthew's Church and a windmill

Victoria Avenue

At Bel Royal the road divides. Victoria Avenue, the island's only dual-carriageway, runs along the sea front, and St Aubin's Road, which originally was the main route to St Helier, runs some metres inland. The two roads formed the circuit for the Jersey International Road Race which was run in the years immediately following World War Two. Between them the land is now largely built up, except for an open space at the western end next to St Matthew's Church, the island's famous Glass Church, decorated with Lalique Glass in memory of her husband by Lady Trent. Next is the Coronation Park, otherwise known as Millbrook Park, also a gift to the island by Lady Trent.

Now it is all houses and other buildings until we reach the Lower Park at the eastern end of Victoria Avenue and St Aubin's, and the two roads merge into the Esplanade to continue along the sea front to the Weighbridge, where we started our journey.
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