St Ouen's Church is one of the 12 parish churches of Jersey; it is situated at Ville de l'Eglise.
The patron saint of Saint Ouen’s Parish Church is Saint Ouen de Rouen. (Latin Audaenus). He was born around 609 in Sancy, France, into a Gallo-Roman family and died in Clichy-la-Garenne on 24 August 683, the date on which his feast day is celebrated.
Ouen’s childhood was a privileged one. His father, St Authaire, made sure his son was well educated at the Abbey of St Medard. He showed a great talent for learning and was welcomed into the court of Clothaire II and his successor Dagobert I, who made him chancellor, as did Clovis. Dagobert persuaded Ouen not to become a monk and charged him with important missions. At the Royal court Ouen found a faithful friend, Eloi; together they served Dagobert, but at his death they both felt released from their duties and left the court.
Ouen took up theological study and actively promoted his Christian religion. As a statesman and theologian he encouraged learning and the founding of new monasteries. In 634-636 Ouen founded the Abbey of Rabais on land donated by Dagobert and Clovis. In 641 he was ordained a priest and was consecrated Archbishop of Rouen. The diocese was transformed under his administration especially in his ordering the worship of false gods to cease.
Ouen was known for his austerity and charity. He supported many missionary activities. Shortly after negotiating peace between Neustria and Austrasia in Cologne he became ill and died.
The building was started by 1066 and is stone vaulted with slate roof. The central tower has long narrow slits for light at its base and supports a spire. Inside there is a nave with two aisles and a chancel, with a chapel on either side. The north and south transepts have been absorbed into the chancel and the chapels. In the nave there is a stone staircase leading to the belfry.
The exact date when the first church appeared in St Ouen is not known, but it is believed that there was a small thatched chantry chapel on the site of the present one at some stage in the past. The church is referred to in a charter signed by William the Conqueror prior to his invasion of England, which indicates its existence prior to 1066. It was probably built by an early seigneur of the parish since the de Carteret family later regarded it as their own property.
In 1156 the small chapel was enlarged and improved as a result of Philippe de Carteret giving it to the Abbey of Mont St Michel. The wealthy abbey built two adjoining chapels and constructed a tower to contain a new peal of bells.
In the 16th century the church, along with many other island churches, became a Huguenot temple and the pews were all turned to face the central altar. The church was changed into an Anglican church in the 19th century, when many of the stained glass windows were added.
One distinctive feature of the church is the unusual staircase in the nave, which leads to the belfry.
The collection of church plate is also of interest, with two cups dating back to 1638, which were presented to Sir George Carteret, and further two cups bearing hallmarks of 1624 and 1627 respectively. In 1880 the church was so popular that it was decided to build St George's Chapel in the north west of the parish in order to receive some of the overflow. The original church bell was cast by La Source in 1754, being recast several times subsequently before the present bell, which was cast in 1971 by John Taylor and Sons at Loughborough.
Outside the church three gravestones can be found which have been built into the church walls, one of which depicts a patriarchal cross. Another shows a chalice and book.
- Etienne 1156
- Guillaume 1190
- Robert de Camberwell 1296
- Geoffrey de Filebek 1297
- John de Hedyndon 1348
- William Humphrey de Boole 1371
- Clement Poyndestre 1459
- Ralph Gosselin 1459
- Pierre Le Moigne 1505-1506
- Jacques de Carteret 1506-1526
- André Powes 1537-1546
- Richard Payn 1546-1554
- Benois Robin 1554-1559
- Thomas Bertram 1565
- M Pinçon 1570
- Pierre de la Place 1576-1598
- Thomas Le Sebirel 1599-1620
- Etienne La Cloche 1623-1645
- Jean Le Vavasseur dit Durell 1651-1652
- Pierre de la Place 1653-1664
- Jean-François Guillet 1664-1699
- Edouard Payn 1700-1718
- Philippe Falle 1719-1757
- Jean du Parq 1763-1784
- Jean Boudier 1785-1794
- George du Heaume 1795-1810
- George Balleine 1812-1815
- François Picard 1815-1823
- Philippe Aubin 1824-1826
- Philippe Payn 1826-1860
- George Clement 1860-1890
- John Pépin 1891-1935
- John Sydney Norman 1935-1945
- Edward James Aubin Richardson 1947-1976
- Denis Albert John Gurney 1977-1984
- Raymond George Speck 1985-1998
- John Harkin 1998-2010
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The pulpit photographed by Philip Morel-Laurens