Durell's 1847 guidebook
- Geoffrey’s Leap
- Druidical remains
- Hougue Bie
- D’Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon
- St Martin’s Church
- St Catherine’s Bay
- The Ecreho Rocks
- Rosel Manor and Harbour
- Mount Mado
- Trinity Manor
The traveller after leaving Mount Orgueil Harbour, and after passing before the principal entrance into the castle, will soon come to the edge of the cliff. It is from this place that on a fine day there is a magnificent prospect of the coasts of France. It is at this place that a remarkable rock projects into the sea; which the country people call Geoffrey's Leap. Tradition is always uncertain, the most probable of which is that some person of that name had the option to take that dangerous leap, and that having succeeded in that extraordinary feat, he saved his life.
After a gentle assent, you pass through the small hamlet of Anneville, which rises on the slopes of a narrow glen, whose sunny recesses are full of cottages, of verdure, of flowers, and of fruits. At the entrance into this glen is the small cove of Anne Port. To the left of this cove, on a hill adjoining the Garenne, or the commanding ground, which immediately looks down on Mount Orgueil Castle, there is an inclosed field, which contains a Druids' temple, the most perfect of the kind that is yet remaining in the island.
A few years ago the owner of the land caused some excavations to be made about it, and the result ascertained that it had been but a small temple, and not at all to be compared with that which formerly existed on the Town Hill, now Fort Regent. What is more extraordinary in this pouquelaye, or cromlech, is how a mass of such an immense weight and dimensions, could have been placed horizontally, over seven perpendicular stones, three of which only touch the cromlech, the other four, from some cause or other, are lower. The three rough perpendicular blocks, which support the cromlech seem to have been selected to taper to a point, which is at once evident to ocular inspection.
It is really a matter of admiration how, in an early age, possessed of few mechanical powers, means could have been devised to raise and locate such stupendous masses; but this has generally been observed in all other Druidical remains, and the mystery has never yet been satisfactorily explained.
These stones had always been considered to be of a Druidical origin, before the surrounding rubbish had been cleared away. The pouquelaye was not then elevated more than ten inches above the under stones, and from thence the artificial surface sloped down to the level of the field.
In the course of this excavation, some pottery, or rather fragments of it, were discovered, as well as a few old coins, and a quantity of broken bones, which seemed to have been blackened by the action of fire. It has been generally supposed that human beings were occasionally sacrificed in those temples, but this is a charge which admits of doubt, and which would require a longer investigation than is consistent with the limits of this little work.
All the accounts we have of the Druids have descended from the Greeks and Romans, who were either strangers to their rites, or prejudiced against their cast. The Druidical remains found in this island are all erected in elevated situations. The same has been observed respecting Druidical altars in other places. The shape of this temple is circular, and may be about ten feet in diameter. As the outside stones under the cromlech have been left standing on end, one would infer from that circumstance that this was but an entrance leading into the sacred recesses of the holy mansion. It is to be regretted that the whole of the rubbish about this cromlech has not yet been removed, a great quantity of which remains untouched; because there is no doubt but that its removal would be attended with further discoveries. The height of the cromlech, or upper block of stone from the ground, has been ascertained by measurement to be about five feet, ten inches.
That cromlech is of a kind of porphyry, and was broken off from a rock in the neighbourhood. It has been said, and that too on the authority of the owner of the land, that some years ago a learned geologist, when on a visit to this island, discovered the spot whence this block had been extracted. It seemed to be of the same quality, and corresponded in shape with the cavity which it had left behind.
La Hougue Bye
After travelling for a few miles over a road, skirted by every variety of rural scenery, one arrives at the Princes' Tower, or as it is still better known among the inhabitants by its venerable and appropriate name of La Hougue Bye. That spot has become one of the highest attractions, and is visited by nearly all the strangers who come to Jersey. It is nearly in the centre, and in the most beautiful part of the island.
For some years past it has become a matter of speculation with the owners, who have fitted up premises near it with comfortable and even splendid accommodations for balls, dinner parties, picnics, and other amusements of the kind. The Princes' Tower is in the middle of an inclosure, thickly planted with forest trees, and of a few acres in extent. In the middle of it is an artificial mound, up which there is a winding path, with a border of flowers up to the top, where according to the legends of olden times, there was formerly a tomb, over which a humble chapel had been built. The whole is now surmounted by a tower of modern construction, covered with ivy to disguise its comparatively recent origin, having been erected not more than 50 years ago, by Captain D'Auvergne, afterwards Duke of Bouillon.
The Hougue Bye answers to what in England is called a barrow, a large pile of earth and turf, raised over the remains of the illustrious dead, who had fallen in single combat or in war. There are several of them in Jersey, but this is the most noted, and has its particular tradition. It states generally that a Norman nobleman, the Lord of Hambye, having been killed in this island, his widow caused this extraordinary monument to be erected over him, to such a height that it might afford a distant and uninterrupted prospect of the spot where her beloved husband had been interred.
The chapel was intended for masses for the soul of the departed Champion according to the religious belief of that period. This tradition contains nothing improbable, for the Lords of Hambye were influential men, and made a high figure in the history of Normandy. They were the founders of the Abbey of Hambye, near Coutances, and were possessed of some property in Jersey, which they afterwards lost when Normandy was dismembered from the dominions of King John. Thus far may be consistent with truth, but there are other particulars annexed to this tradition which carry with them the air of exaggeration or romance.
The tradition connected with this spot is well imagined, and has obtained some poetical celebrity. It is to be found in Falle's History. A large serpent in the marsh of St Laurence desolated the Isle of Jersey, when a valorous knight, the Lord of Hambye, came over from the Continent to destroy it, and succeeded in the enterprise. His squire, who had attended him, when under the influence of the irresistible passions of lust and ambition, murdered him in his sleep. On his return the squire told the widowed lady that her lord had been killed by the monster, and that he had expressed as his dying request that she would marry him.
The credulous lady was deceived into compliance, but the murderer could find no happiness in his prosperity. A guilty conscience tore him with remorse, and his very sleep was disturbed by horrid and distracting dreams, which caused him often to cry aloud that he had slain his master. This at length excited suspicion, from which resulted a judicial investigation, and a full conviction of his guilt, for which he received the condign punishment. As to the lady, she caused an elevated mound to be raised over the ashes of her buried lord.
Thus far for a succinct account of that venerable piece of antiquity. A few observations are however necessary on that monument in its present state. It is situated in the most elevated part of the island, at the extremity of the parish of Grouville, in the direct military road between St Helier, and Mount Orgueil Castle, and at the distance of about two miles and a half from the former. Besides its poetical and legendary celebrity, it has other modern attractions to invite travellers to its lovely site.
La Hougue, or as it is now called, the Princes' Tower, was always remarkable for the extensive panoramic prospect which it commands from its summit. The island with all its beautiful, varied, and one might almost say, unrivalled scenery, seems to be expanded under the feet of the beholder, as it were, in a glowing and animated mass. A great part of the coast with its different sinuosities of bays, creeks, headlands, and cliffs, appears within a blue expanse of waters, which recedes from it, and is lost in the distant horizon.
The north-west district of the island is bounded by high, and in many places, inaccessible cliffs. There the eye may wander over the whole extent of this limited country; except that the high land prevents the view of the sea beyond the western boundary. That part of the view which stretches over the water is truly magnificent. It extends over the narrow channel between Jersey and the coast of France, at the distance of rather less than 25 miles. A large extent of the coast is visible to the naked eye on a clear day, with its long line of sands, the scattered white habitations distinguishable on the land at various distances, and above all the towers of the cathedral of Coutances, rising on the horizon, with all the majestic grandeur of a Christian temple.
The Hougue Bye was purchased about the end of the last century by Philip D'Auvergne, a native of this island, but since better known as Admiral D'Auvergne, and as Duke of Bouillon. Being a man of genius and taste, he enlarged the ancient chapel, and raised a tower over it, from which the locality has almost lost its ancient name of Hougue Bye to merge in that of the Princes' Tower. His Serene Highness laid out the whole of the field in which it was enclosed, in plantations, as well as the sides of the mound. He cut also a large winding path up the acclivity, which still continues to conduct the traveller to this hallowed building.
The subsoil through which the path has been cut seems to consist of loose stones, and rubbish,— another proof, if more were wanting, that the mound is artificial. The Duke of Bouillon's plantations have grown up in process of time, and totally changed the original appearance of that spot, which seems now to be embosomed in a dark grove of forest trees, which deprives it of all its prospects, till one gets far up the mound, from which the chapel and the tower seem to emerge above this solitary wilderness.
Before the improvements made by the Duke of Bouillon, the monument was in all its native simplicity, where the mound rising out of a large field had not a single tree to shade it, or otherwise obstruct the view. The ascent of the tumulus was covered with turf, very much like the barrows on Salisbury Plain. In a drawing then made of it, the summit is crowned with an ancient building, apparently divided into two parts, which, from its smallness, may be supposed to be a homely imitation of the holy sepulchre.
So much has been said of Philippe D'Auvergne, Duke of Bouillon, that the reader will not be sorry to have a succinct account of that distinguished person. He was born in Jersey, in 1754, of an ancient and honourable family, some of whom had risen to eminence in the Church, and in the military profession. Young D'Auvergne was brought up in the Navy, but having been taken prisoner, he was carried to France. The similarity of his name to that of the reigning Duke drew the attention of that Prince, who had him introduced to him. D'Auvergne had all the advantages of personal accomplishments, and of a superior intellect to fascinate the Duke.
The dry ceremonies of distant etiquette, and of courtly reserve, soon ripened into esteem and affection. He imagined that D'Auvergne was of his own family, of which it is possible that he might have been descended from some distant branch. Having only one son, an idiot, he adopted him as his second heir. The old Duke and his son, having died successively, during the storms of the French Revolution, Philippe D'Auvergne became the titular Duke of Bouillon, and a British Rear-Admiral, in 1805. Considering himself now closely allied to France, he supported the Royalist cause, by all the means in his power. For that purpose he obtained the Naval command in Jersey, and resided for several years in Mount Orgueil Castle, whence he directed some of the most delicate operations during the civil war in La Vendee. This excited the animosity of Napoleon, and when he repaired to Paris in 1803 to devise legal means for the recovery of his inheritance, he was arrested, and after being treated with every kind of indignity, the first Consul ordered him to quit the French territory within 24 hours.
After the Restoration of Louis XVIII, in 1814, he was momentarily put in possession of his duchy, of which he was deprived the year following by the Congress of Vienna. He retired to London, where he died of a broken heart in 1816. He was a brave man, with a noble, patriotic, and generous spirit, which would have become the illustrious station to which Providence had raised him. The duchy of Bouillon was given to Prince Charles of Rohan, who was a relation of the old Dukes in the female line.
After leaving the Princes' Tower, the traveller has a good road to bring him to St Martin's Church, and thence to St Catherine's Bay, about a mile further. The immediate neighbourhood of St Martin's Church is fertile, well cultivated and populous. The living is said to be the best country parish in the island. It was there that the unfortunate Dean Bandinel was rector, and was buried. It is but very lately that his lineal descendant, Dr Bandinel, the keeper of the Bodleian Library, at Oxford, sold the family estate in this parish.
The site of St Catherine's Bay is one of the most interesting and the most picturesque in the island. The road leads through a secluded valley, sloping down to the sea, and terminating in this small, but safe and commodious bay. This valley, which is sheltered from almost every wind, is very fertile and in a high state of cultivation. It has been observed that when the insular crops of apples fail everywhere else, the produce of this sequestered vale forms a favourable exception to the general disappointment. This bay, and several of its lovely sites have not failed to attract notice. Many neat residences have been erected in several of the most striking spots, which combine the most exquisite rural scenery, with the most complete seclusion.
The most eligible spot for enjoying a view of St Catherine's Bay, and of the neighbouring scenery, is from an adjoining point of land, which is designated in the maps under the name of Verclut. The most proper time to go there is on a fine summer evening, when the tide below is at its greatest height. It is then that this prospect is splendid in the extreme, irregular masses rising some hundred feet above the water, the blue smoke from the fishermen's huts ascending over rocks covered with moss and stunted furze, and at a distance, houses, corn fields, and groves of richly tinted trees, that seem to mingle in the distant horizon with clouds reflecting the brightest hues of purple and gold.
About two leagues from the shore, and a little farther from the Continent, there is a long ridge of rocks, many of which are never covered by the tide, which afford a seasonable shelter for fishermen and gatherers of seaweed during the summer. The largest of those rocks is not destitute of vegetable earth, and contains a few permanent habitations. This range is commonly known by the name of the Ecrehos, the soundings between which and the Jersey coast are so deep that this circumstance alone militates against the probability that Jersey was ever joined to France on that side. The largest of the Ecrehos has the ruins of an old chapel to the Virgin Mary. It was erected by Pierre Du Pratel, a Norman Lord, for prayers to be made for the salvation of the soul of King John. That chapel was a priory of the Abbey of Val Richer, near Lisieux in Normandy.
In the course of this excursion, the tourist may have a cursory view of the Seignory and baronial domain of Rozel, which its Lord holds in capite from the Sovereign by fealty and homage. It is one of the five great fiefs of the island. It was formerly one of the estates of the de Carterets, from whom it passed by female descent to its present owner, Col Lempriere. The mansion is a beautiful building constructed in the Gothic style. There is also a park, well planted with forest trees, inclosed in the English style, and which contains some fallow deer.
After keeping round the park wall, and to the right, you reach one of the most romantic parts of the coast. One would be inclined to suppose that some violent convulsion of nature had, in this place, cleft the island in two. It was on this spot that the guard on the heights of Trinity saw a fire lighted the night after Christmas in 1780, which was answered by another fire lighted on the coast of France. The road turns to the left, where it is cut out of the natural rock, which overhangs it in a terrible manner. The sea, which had been for a moment concealed, reappears again, and a steep descent brings you to Rozel Harbour - a small fishing creek, surrounded by lofty hills, whose lengthened shadows are reflected on the glassy surface of the waters.
It is an excellent baiting place to stop and have some refreshments, which can be procured here of the best kind, especially shellfish. Round the creek are some extensive barracks, and a few batteries. Very near this place, is the height of the Couperon, which contains some Celtic remains. It ought to be rather among those remains, however ill-disposed they may be, that one ought to seek for the form and the destination of a Druidical temple. That is the true cromlech, or Celtic ring. The number of stones which composed it was a sacred number, which designated the number of the Gods. In the middle of them rose the menhir, or upright stone, which represented the Supreme Deity. Those Cromlechs served at the same time for places of worship, and for courts of justice. It was there also that their chiefs were proclaimed and installed.
After leaving the delicious little vales of Rozel, the road ascends into the parish of Trinity. It is an elevated and exposed road, which runs for a while parallel with the sea coast. Before reaching the church the road becomes shaded by lofty trees, and then turning into a deep hollow, it brings you at once into Bouley Bay, the most important for its depth of water, not only on the north coast, but on the whole coast of Jersey, and presents great capabilities for making it a most valuable naval station. It lies at an equal distance from the harbours of Mount Orgueil and of Greve de Lecq.
The country near Bouley Bay is bleak and barren, presenting towards the sea a line of enormous and precipitous cliffs, occasionally intersected by deep ravines, and running streams; but as the land mostly rises from the south, it forms a ridge of table land, not more than about a mile from the sea, into which the waters flow directly north. The immediate vicinity of the bay is sterile in the extreme, producing nothing but heath, and a sort of stunted furze, which is commonly cut up, stacked, and used by the poor people instead of peat. The land does not improve till at about a mile from the shore, where it resumes its general fertility.
The cliffs that bound the shore are, as before observed, extremely rugged and precipitous, and oppose an insurmountable barrier to the encroachments of the waves. The ground slopes irregularly from the heights, till it ends in a wild and narrow glen commanded on all sides by the adjoining precipices. A little lower down there is a beach of moderate extent, which is the landing place of this bay. The tide, on account of the depth of the water, recedes but to a small distance.
The beach is composed of loose stones, similar to those in St Catherine's Bay, among which are sometimes found some beautifully variegated pebbles. Part of the ground above high water mark has been levelled, on which some small barracks have been erected as an outpost. There is a battery close to the water's edge, in which, as well as on the commanding heights, there are several pieces of ordnance which would render every attempt to land in that quarter abortive.
With the view of drawing some portion of the oyster fishery to this harbour, the States of the Island some years ago spent some thousand pounds to erect there a small pier. The experiment, however, did not succeed, as no material improvement could be made unless effected on a large scale. Nor could it have ever competed with Mount Orgueil Harbour in that fishery, on account of its not being so conveniently situated with respect to the oyster beds.
The States have long been desirous of doing all in their power for the improvement of Bouley Bay. With that view, they ordered a military road to be constructed from the top of Bouley Hill down to the beach. This road runs in zig-zag for about a mile, and is one of the most difficult, and most skilful works of the kind in Jersey.
Potential for harbour
The heights completely command the bay, without being themselves commanded by any higher grounds in the interior. In many parts the front line towards the sea is inaccessible, or could be easily rendered so. The localities, therefore, afford all the capabilities necessary for the construction of an impregnable fortress.
Bouley Bay is the best station in Jersey, which has sufficient depth of water and safe anchorage for men-of-war. The subject has, from time to time, drawn the attention of Government, but hitherto nothing has been done. The expenditure required would be far beyond the local resources of the island, and a citadel, and a breakwater could not be erected, but as a national concern. If these improvements should ever be accomplished, it would, in case of a future war with France, not only conduce to the general defence of the island, but place Cherbourg under the immediate surveillance of Portsmouth, and of the naval squadron stationed in Jersey.
From Bouley Bay, till beyond the quarries of Mount Mado, the coast is nothing but a continuation of small creeks, which from their variety have much to interest the traveller. These are Petit Port, Belle Hougue, Havre Gifford, Bonne Nuit, Fremont, and La Houlle. Next come the Mount Mado quarries, which are worked on a large scale, and supply the best granite in the island. It is not far from thence to St John's Church. There is a fair held here annually, on Midsummer-day, where very little business is transacted, but which is numerously attended by visitors from every part of the island, who resort there, as to a place of agreeable amusement. The late Rev Dr Richard Valpy, whose memory reflects so much honour on the island, had his family estate in this parish, and had been born there. The tourist will return by Trinity Church, and have a view of the grounds of Trinity Manor, the most rural and the best laid out of any in Jersey, and which bear the nearest resemblance to an English gentleman's park. This was the estate of the late Admiral Carteret, the circumnavigator, and of his son, Sir Philip Carteret Silvester, whose sister and heiress, Lady Symonds, resides mostly in England.
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