On the coast
A popular tourist attraction from Victorian days, Devil's Hole involved a long climb down a series of ladders which would never pass 21st century health and safety regulations, and then up again the same way
Creux de Vis has become known as Devil’s Hole, possibly through bad pronunciation of the original French name, which translates as ‘the screw-hole’. Following a shipwreck in 1851 a ship’s figurehead was washed up at Devil’s Hole and this was adapted and carved by Jean Giffard to create the statue of the devil which was subsequently set up above the hole.
Succession of statues
This wooden statue was replaced by a succession of modern versions in the 20th century, with the most recent being relocated in a pond near the Priory Inn. Other names for the site include Le Creux de la Touraille, Le Trou au Diable and Le Creux Terrible.
At high tide the cave floods and water is forced through the tunnel and out of the hole, creating a booming noise, which is a feature of many St Mary legends.
In his book The Historical Hotels and Inns of Jersey Philip Ahier records that in 1851 the French cutter Josephine ran aground just below Devil's Hole when her captain got lost in mist en route from Cherbourg to St Malo. A crewman was drowned attempting to swim ashore for help, while four others managed to cling to a rock, from which they were rescued by the owner of the Priory Inn at the top of the cliffs, Nicolas Arthur, who together with a friend was awarded silver medals and certificates by the French Minister of Marine.
The figurehead of La Josephine was washed into Devil's Hole and salvaged by Mr Arthur. Sculptor John Gifford of St Peter transformed it into a facsimile of the Devil, which was on show for nearly 100 years. It was removed by pranksters in 1951, but later returned. Six years later, however, it was stolen and burned.
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