St Barnabas Church

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St Barnabas Church

St Barnabas Church is an Anglican church on Tower Hill, St Peter Port. It was built in 1874 to serve the poorer elements of St Peter Port who lived in that area.

The building is in the Gothic architecture style, and was built to accommodate a congregation of 500. It was built as a memorial to Reverend Charles Guille, curate of the Town Church.

History

In the 19th century one of the less admirable aspects of the churchgoing community was the way those who had family pews felt the church belonged to them and others were there more or less on suffrance; this attitude - by no means confined to Guernsey was maintained well into the 20th century by some. The poor and uninfluential were not greatly welcome and so tended to keep away. The Rev. Charles Guille, curate of the Town Church, did his best to cater for the spiritual needs of the folk of Cornet Street, Fountain Street and that area by holding meetings at Castle Vaudin which attracted a good number of people. After him, his successor, the Rev. R. J. Ozanne started a fund to build a new church. A site was found on Tower Hill, where the Tour Beauregard used to be, a subscription list was started, the architect Arthur Blomfield was engaged and on St. Barnabas Day, June 11th, 1872, the foundation stone was laid by Sir Peter Stafford Carey. In August, 1874, the church was officially opened - a big building in the Gothic style, with hammer-dressed Cobo granite for the coigns, plinths, strings etc. and blue granite in between alternating with courses, of red brick, a tower on the north side. The font was of Irish marble presented by the Meyrick family as a memorial to Miss Christine Guille, sister of the Rev. Charles Guille to whose memory the church was erected. The cost of the building was £3,000.

For the next 30 years it served the area, but by the early 1920's the congregation had dropped off and it was closed for public worship. In 1928 it was surveyed and the architects reported that the interior was, in a poor condition, the large window openings admitting rain too freely, and that the cost of repairs would be at least £500.

For a time St. Barnabas was used as a soup kitchen in the winter; there were applications for its demolition, but in 1938 it was acquired by the States of Guernsey for a museum, the idea having first been mooted in 1926.

At the time there were two museums, both States-owned, the Lukis Museum and Candie Museum, and these two were amalgamated and opened formally by the Bailiff, Mr. Victor Carey, as the Lukis and Island Museum. The sum of £50 a year was voted for the purchase of new exhibits.

As the years have gone on the church became more and more unsuitable for the modern conception of a museum, having little space for its exhibits, little money to spend and always bits of plaster and so on falling from above. Once the new Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery opened at Candie Gardens in the 1970s, it became a store for the States Housing Authority.

By the early 21st Century it had been virtually abandoned, but in 2005 was the subject of a major restoration to become the permanent home for the Island Archives Service.

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