A history of Trinity

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Staff and pupils of Trinity School in 1914

This article is based on a Jersey Archive Street Story presentation in June 2015

The area around Trinity Church has been the centre of parish life for centuries. Although not specifically called Trinity Village, the church and its surroundings have all the trappings of village life, with the parish hall, school, shops, homes and a public house.

The church is said to stand on the site of one of the five ancient chapels within the bounds of what is now the Parish of Trinity. The planning register lists the church as being 'of fundamental importance to the heritage of Jersey, being among the oldest and most significant historic buildings in the island'.

The first mention of the building is in a document of 1172, when it formed part of the endowments of St Helier's Abbey, but the church is said to have been consecrated nine years earlier on 3 September 1163. When the abbey was amalgamated with Notre-Dame de Voeu in Cherbourg in 1179 Trinity was transferred to the authority of that monastery.

A considerable amount of work was carried out on the church from 1850 onwards, when the Rev William du Heaume took over as Rector. This included almost the entire rebuilding of the medieval nave on its old foundations in about 1865.

The Clameur de Haro was raised by one of the churchwardens, Jean Falle, against work being undertaken in the church without permission by Jean de Gruchy on 11 March 1851. It appears the the Rector had ordered work to be carried out without the consent of the churchwardens, so Mr Falle brought the action to stop it.

Trinity School

Parochial school

Mr du Heaume was a central figure in parish life and was the driving force behind the creation of a parochial school. Trinity had been paying a schoolmaster for its children from at least the 1840s and Mr du Heaume had instituted a day school in the church. He believed, however, that the parish needed a proper school.

This led to an incident described as 'nefarious' in a parish meeting on 13 July 1852. In the middle of the night a number of trees on part of the Rectory land had been cut down without permission. The Constable demanded that the perpetrator of this act be brought to justice.

Now that the trees had gone the Rector suggested that a school could be built on the newly available land. However, parish officials urged the Constable to oppose it on the grounds that as a public building it should be more accessible. Evidently the area the Rector was suggesting for development was not easily reached by road.

The Rector finally succeeded in his plans for the building of a new school. On 31 July 1852 he bought a house and land from James Male for 17 quartiers 3 cabots and 2 sixtonniers of wheat rente with the purpose of building a public school. The school opened in 1854.

The early years saw a number of different head teachers, but it was not until Ernest Gruchy took over in 1883 that the school reached a level of stability. The first report of his tenure recorded:"The school has improved very much under the new master". He was to be in charge for almost 44 years before being replaced on his retirement in 1927 by F R Poingdestre.

Court case

In the early 1850s Mr du Heaume, together with the Constable and churchwardens were involved in a court case that saw them incarcerated in the public prison. Ann Gruchy had provided a £600 loan to the parish, but they refused to pay the interest she was due. She took the case to the Royal Court and, despite their best efforts, the officials were briefly imprisoned before the parish realised that they were not going to win the case and paid up.

This was not the only time Mr du Heaume struggled with loans. He appeared in the bankruptcy records for 1867, in which it was recorded that he owed more than £10,000 to at least 40 creditors. His wife, Mary Ann le Vavasseur dit Durell, was also declared banrupt the following year.

Parish magazine

States and parish officials and the church came into conflict over the parish magazine. In the late 1820s the 12 parishes were instructed by the Lieut-Governor that new artillery was to be received in the island and that they would need to improve the accommodation of the weapons.

Trinity parish magazine was attached to the church, and after some discussion a labourer was employed to effect these improvements. However, as work started the Rector of the time, the Rev Jean Thomas Ahier, raised the Clameur de Haro, bringing progress to a halt. The Rector said that the work was contrary to what the church should be used for and that he was completely against using the building as a place to store artillery or other profane uses.

The parish argued that the magazine had been attached to the church for many years, but it was only after pressure from the Lieut-Governor and an agreement with the Rector that money would also be spent on improving the church and rectory that the work was allowed to continue.

The British Hotel

Across from the church another military building was situated. This was the parish drill shed, which was in the grounds of what is now the States Experimental Farm, given to the island by T B Davis in the 1920s.

Long-time Trinity resident Alan Whicker (left) is greeted at Jersey Airport in 1972 by John Rothwell, of Channel Television

Public houses

On either side of the drill shed were two properties that were used for many years as public houses. The British Hotel was the parish local for many years and was situated on Route de la Trinité. The Royal Hotel was on the corner of Rue Asplet and Route de la Trinité and can be seen on the Godfray Map of 1849 as owned by Jean de Caen. Mr de Caen had a handin both public houses, owning them both in the 1860s and 1870s. It would seem that he moved his main business from the Royal to the British, and the name as well, because the Royal had previously been called the British.

Later on the Royal Hotel was run as a shop by Nicolas Le Gallais and his wife, before being sold to the States by Philip Aubin in 1929 to become part of the Experimental Farm.

The last pint was poured at the British in December 1979. Ann Street Brewery opened the Trinity Arms as its replacement a couple of days later on the site of a building called Commercial House. This move was not without controversy, with people voicing opposition in the Jersey Evening Post, including Alan Whicker, who lived nearby, who wrote a letter to the newspaper entitled 'Who wants a hideous, brash boozers' barracks desecrating Trinity?'

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