States Chamber

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The States Chamber

This is the seat of the Island's parliament, situated in the States Building in Saint Helier's Royal Square

Meetings in Court

Until the late 18th century the States Assembly had no Chamber of its own and met in the Royal Court. After a further period of reconstruction to the Court buildings undertaken between 1864 and 1866 the States yet again were compelled to sit in the Royal Court.

Plans drawn up

In March 1876 a plan was drawn up by the States architectproviding for the establishment of an assembly room above the strong rooms then in the course of construction on the States property east of the Court House. By the end of October 1879 the strong rooms were completed, the top portion still remaining unfinished and no decision yet reached as to its final use, although an Act had been lodged on 20 October 1879 recommending the establishment of the States room. An alternative plan was presented to the States in early 1880, to which, some two years later the States gave their approval. At the same time the States decided to advertise the competition for the submission of plans for the new premises west of the Court House on the site of two houses recently purchased. It was proposed that the site would accommodate the new library and the Greffe offices. By 25 June 1886 the Library and Greffe offices were completed and handed over to the States. The library was opened to the public on 1 December of the same year.

The Royal Mace

Chamber opened

In the meantime the question of the proposed assembly room was still under consideration. Eventually the States gave their approval and on 21 June 1887 - the 50th anniversary of the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne - the present Chamber was opened. It is in early Jacobean style - oak - nine large panels carved and panelled and moulded in plaster of paris, and 12 pilasters with shields (on which it was intended to paint the 12 parish crests).

The chamber in 1904

During the past 100 years very few alterations have been made to the Chamber, the most recent being the installation of microphones on members' desks. In 1919 a tablet on the wall to the memory of Sir Walter Raleigh (Governor of Jersey 1600-1603), was erected at the expense of La Société Jersiaise. A second tablet was erected in 1995, again a gift from La Société, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Island from enemy occupation.

The Banner of Arms of the Sovereign of England that hangs over the Presidential dais is of the same heraldic significance (three gold leopards on a red ground) as those on the Public Seal granted to Jersey by King Edward I in 1279. It was placed in position on the occasion of the visit of HM King George V and HM Queen Mary to the Island in 1921.

Royal Mace

The Royal Mace is carried before the Bailiff at the sittings of the Royal Court and meetings of the Assembly of the States of Jersey. It was presented by King Charles II to Jersey on 28th November 1663 in gratitude for the hospitality he received from the Island on two occasions during his years in exile.

The mace is one of the great maces of the 17th century. It consists of eleven pieces, made of silver gilt, is 4 ft 9½ inches long, weighs 14 lb 13 oz and bears no hallmarks. Engraved on the foot knob is a Latin inscription, which translated reads-

"Not all doth he deem worthy of such a reward. Charles II, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, as a proof of his royal affection towards the Isle of Jersey (in which he has been twice received in safety when he was excluded from the remainder of his dominions) has willed that this Royal Mace should be consecrated to posterity and has ordered that hereafter it shall be carried before the Bailiffs, in perpetual remembrance of their fidelity not only to his august father Charles I but to His Majesty during the fury of the civil wars, when the Island was maintained by the illustrious Philip and George de Carteret, Knights, Bailiffs and Governors of the said Island"

At the sittings of the Royal Court and meetings of the States, the Mace is placed standing upright in a socket in front of the Bailiff's desk.

Gallery

Click on any image to see a full-size version

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