Guernsey, Channel Islands

Church of St. Martin de la Bellouse, Guernsey, Channel Islands

This is one of the Channel Islands most venerable churches, dating back to at least 1048 when Duke William “the Bastard” (later to be William the Conqueror) granted the church to the Abbot of Marmoutiers in the Centre region of France (near Tours). At this time the Channel Islands were under Norman control – indeed they remained so after 1066 and islanders still refer to the Queen as “Our Duke”.

Up until 1415 all the revenues from the Parish were sent to Marmoutiers. In that year Henry V confiscated the revenues, but it was not until 1568 that the Channel Islands finally became part of an English diocese, Winchester.

There is uncertainty about the name “de la Bellouse”, the closest root people can find for the word is “belorsa” which is Breton for sloe bush.

Just outside the church yard is La Gran’ Mere du Chimquiere (pictured foreground). She is a Neolithic menhir dating to 2500-1800 BC. Here name translates as The Grandmother of the Churchyard. She used to stand near the church porch, but in Victorian times she was broken in two to be destroyed. The local people kidnapped the broken pieces and repaired her and then placed her where she now stands – outside church land.

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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