Page images



One or two of the churches in Jersey (St. Mary's and St. Lawrence's among the rest), also contain interesting specimens of architecture. These are more valuable for comparison with similar work in Normandy and England than for their intrinsic merit. There is some very beautiful and rather florid work in the interior of the town church in Guernsey. A niche, figured in page 541, affords a good example of its style.

Of the island churches at present-so far as this subject belongs to the present chapter-there is more interesting matter to be found in their general picturesqueness, in spite of neglect and injury, than in their special details. Few scenes are more characteristic than that represented in the illustration at the head of this chapter, where the little country church, simple and even ugly enough in many respects, lies embosomed among trees, preserving all that is wanted for beauty to the artist, though without much left for the lover of church architecture.

While the better houses and churches are thus nearly destitute of all that marks national character, the smaller farm houses are not unfrequently much more interesting. The cottages are generally well built of squared granite, and their doorways in Guernsey are remarkable for the round Norman arch. A sketch of such a doorway has been given in a former page (see page 60). In Jersey the round arch is very rare. With these exceptions, however, and the general style of the cottages, which is superior to what could be expected from their present inhabitants, there is little to be noticed even in this respect.

A fine specimen of the style of architecture of the towns is given in the engraving which forms the title of the present division of this work (see page 457). It is a view taken about twenty years ago, of a narrow passage leading out of the High Street of St. Peter's Port, Guernsey.

The Court Houses in all the islands are plain buildings, destitute of any architectural effect. That in Guernsey is detached, but resembles only a large house of ordinary construction. The

Royal Court House of Jersey is a plain building in the Royal Square. At Alderney there is also a Court House of no pre


Costume is but little preserved in the Channel Islands. A peculiar and not very ornamental bonnet is occasionally seen in the market-place of Guernsey, covering the head of an ancient woman clothed in a short bedgown of coloured print, over a stuff petticoat. A figure with a slightly-different physiognomy, clothed in nearly the same style, is perhaps somewhat more common in Sark. Beyond this, little can be described.

The country-people and the native shopkeepers in the towns, both in Jersey and Guernsey, are somewhat independent in their manner towards strangers, but very rarely uncivil or disobliging. Their want of polish is, however, remarkable if contrasted with that of the same classes of French. The inhabitants of the small country farms and their labourers live, for the most part, simply, and on food yielding but little nourishment, cabbage and conger soup being standard dishes, and meat, except near towns, rarely seen. One consequence of this is a somewhat stunted development, readily observed by a stranger. The people of both sexes and of all classes dress comfortably and warmly, and, as may be imagined from the returns of the savings banks, are in the habit of hoarding, and are exceedingly careful in regard to money matters. Even those who have secured incomes sufficient to render them independent, are generally parsimonious. The extreme division of the land and the nature of the tenure of landed property induces almost all the resident heads of families, who are able to save more than a few pounds, to invest either in land or 'rents.' There are always more buyers than sellers of such property, and the price is generally very high. The Guernsey 'quarter of rent' is estimated as worth, on an average, twenty pounds currency; and those who cannot invest in land, purchase these small rent charges on land, which are broken up into the smallest fractions of a quarter. Within the



last few years a law has been passed in Guernsey permitting the holders of land, saddled with these small and fractional charges, to redeem them at a fixed price. The passing this law was not, however, effected without serious opposition, extending even to an expensive appeal to the Queen in Council.*

The higher ranks in both islands assimilate in their general habits to the educated classes in country and cathedral towns in England and elsewhere. There is, however, a perceptible difference. Cliques naturally, and perhaps necessarily, exist in a society where the whole private history of everybody is known and remembered. Owing, also, to the small number of families and the constant intermarriages of their members, nearly all those mixing in daily intercourse are cousins, more or less nearly related. Strangers cannot expect, nor would they perhaps always desire, to be admitted to the intimacy thus induced; but they are hardly prepared, at first, for the apparent neglect that is a natural, if not inevitable, consequence of this, and to which they are often exposed. They are, in fact, especially in Guernsey, admitted rather than encouraged. This is noticeable in the ball-room, where matters are left to take their own course, and English ladies have but little chance.

At a period not very distant, society in Guernsey grouped itself into two divisions,-one, including those families who prided themselves on ancient descent and landed estates, and who regarded themselves as the pur sang,-and the other, those whose fortunes had chiefly been made during the late war, or in trade. The former were called sixties (from the number of families admitted within the upper ranks at the time of the building of the present Assembly Rooms), the latter were the orties. It is the fashion now to ignore these names, but the

The rent charge, or annual money payment in lieu of wheat due for each quarter of rent, has varied within the last ten years from fifteen to nearly twentyeight shillings currency in Guernsey. In Jersey there are two kinds of rents, worth in 1862 sixteen shillings and eightpence, and eighteen shillings currency respectively.

feelings that prompted them still exist, and are plainly expressed. The educational advantages open to the forties by their ample means, and fully made use of by them, have, however, done away with any difference in manners that may formerly have been noticeable.

The divisions of society among the natives in Jersey have been quite as much marked as in Guernsey, but are more political than social. They are known as the Laurel and Rose factions respectively. In Jersey, however, the English residents form so large a proportion of the inhabitants as to make up several distinct societies, and thus there is much less dependance on the islanders than in Guernsey, where the English element is small in comparison, and not sufficient to act independently. In Guernsey, the hospitality of the principal island families is freely extended to strangers who bring good introductions, and visits are readily interchanged with them.


The feudal character of the island customs is nowhere more clearly shown than in the establishment of the militia. Every male between the ages of seventeen and sixty-five in Jersey, and between sixteen and sixty in the other islands, is bound to render man-service to the crown, and this extends not only to the islanders by descent, and those born in the islands during the residence of their parents, but to all persons who derive income from any employment or trade carried on in them. The extent of this service, in law, is that each man should provide himself with arms and ammunition, attend drill when required, keep watch and guard round the island by night and day, repair the bulwarks, keep the garrison when no troops of the line are in the island, and perform all other services for defence. In Jersey there are six and in Guernsey four regiments of the line, and in Alderney and Sark several companies. There is also a regiment of six companies of artillery in Jersey, and one of four in



Guernsey, besides those of Alderney and Sark. Subject to this service, the islanders are altogether free from other claims, and during the late war were not liable to impressment into the navy, nor can any man be required to leave his own island. Even in theory, however, the extreme service can only be exacted in time of war and very extraordinary emergencies. Neither does it appear that the militia have ever been subject to martial law.

In ordinary times of peace the dress, arms and accoutrements, as well as ammunition, are all supplied by the sovereign; and the days of drill and practice, whether rifle or artillery, are limited to a very small number. There are, however, always a certain number of field days, and all the regulations are capable of modification by the lieutenant-governor for the time being. The lieutenant-governor has it thus in its power to harass the population if he should think fit to do so. The total nominal strength of the Jersey militia is about ten thousand men; and that of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark is about five thousand. number of men under arms is about half those numbers.


Strangers resident in the islands, and not deriving an income from any employment carried on there, are, in time of peace, altogether exempt. During war, they are, however, personally liable. The horses, carts, and other means of conveyance, of all persons are liable to be taken in time of war for the service of the crown in the defence of the islands.

Educational Institutions.

In the islands of Jersey and Guernsey there are several public institutions for educational, charitable, sanitory and other purposes, that require brief notice. Of these, some are of considerable antiquity, but most of them are due to the liberality of modern times. Some are exceedingly creditable-others rather the contrary.

Victoria College, in Jersey, is of recent institution, having

« PreviousContinue »