Saint Helier (/ˈhɛliər/; French: Saint-Hélier; Norman: Saint Hélyi) is one of the twelve parishes of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel. St Helier has a population of about 33,500, roughly 34.2% of the total population of Jersey, and is the capital of the Island (although Government House is situated in St Saviour). The urban area of the parish of St Helier makes up most of the largest town in Jersey, although some of the town area is situated in adjacent St Saviour, with suburbs sprawling into St Lawrence and St Clement. The greater part of St Helier is rural.
Saint Helier viewed across the Old Harbour
Coat of arms
Location of Saint Helier
Saint-Hélier in Jersey
Location of Saint Helier
Saint-Hélier in Jersey
|Crown Dependency||Jersey, Channel Islands|
|• Connétable||Simon Crowcroft|
|• Total||10.6 km2 (4.1 sq mi)|
|Area rank||Ranked 5th|
|• Density||3,200/km2 (8,200/sq mi)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+01|
3 and 4
It is thought that the site of St Helier was settled at the time of the Roman control of Gaul.
The medieval hagiographies of Helier, the patron saint martyred in Jersey and after whom the parish and town are named, suggest a picture of a small fishing village on the dunes between the marshy land behind and the high-water mark.
Although the Parish Church of St Helier is now some considerable distance from the sea, at the time of its original construction it was on the edge of the dunes at the closest practical point to the offshore islet called the Hermitage (site of Helier's witness and martyrdom). Before land reclamation and port construction started, boats could be tied up to the churchyard wall on the seaward side.
An Abbey of St Helier was founded in 1155 on L'Islet, a tidal island adjacent to the Hermitage. Closed at the Reformation, the site of the abbey was fortified to create the castle that replaced Mont Orgueil as the Island's major fortress. The new Elizabeth Castle was named after the Queen by the Governor of Jersey 1600-1603, Sir Walter Raleigh.
Until the end of the 18th century, the town consisted chiefly of a string of houses, shops and warehouses stretching along the coastal dunes either side of the Church of St Helier and the adjacent marketplace (since 1751, Royal Square). La Cohue (a Norman word for courthouse) stood on one side of the square, now rebuilt as the Royal Court and States Chamber (called collectively the States Building). The market cross in the centre of the square was pulled down at the Reformation, and the iron cage for holding prisoners was replaced by a prison gatehouse at the western edge of town.
George II gave £200 towards the construction of a new harbour - previously boats would be beached on a falling tide and unloaded by cart across the sands. A statue of the king by John Cheere was erected in the square in 1751 in gratitude, and the market place was renamed Royal Square, although the name has remained Lé Vièr Marchi (the old market) to this day in Jèrriais. Many of St Helier's road names and street names are bilingual English/French or English/Jèrriais, but some have only one name. The names in the various languages are not usually translations: distinct naming traditions survive alongside each other.
The Royal Square was also the scene of the Battle of Jersey on 6 January 1781, the last attempt by French forces to seize Jersey. John Singleton Copley's epic painting The Death of Major Pierson captures an imaginative version of the scene.
As harbour construction moved development seaward, a growth in population meant that marshland and pasture north of the ribbon of urban activity was built on speculatively. Settlement by English immigrants added quarters of colonial-style town houses to the traditional building stock.
Continuing military threats from France spurred the construction of a citadel fortress, Fort Regent, on the Mont de la Ville, the crag dominating the shallow basin of St Helier.
Military roads linking coastal defences around the island with St Helier harbour allowed farmers to exploit Jersey's temperate micro-climate and use new fast sailing ships and then steamships to get their produce to the markets of London and Paris before the competition. This was the start of Jersey's agricultural prosperity in the 19th century.
From the 1820s, peace with France and better communications by steamships and railways to coastal ports encouraged an influx of English-speaking residents. Speculative development covered the marshy basin north of the central coastal strip as far as the hills within a period of about 40 years, providing the town with terraces of elegant town houses.
In the second half of the 19th century, hundreds of trucks laden with potatoes and other export produce needed access to the harbour. This prompted a programme of road-widening which swept away many of the ancient buildings of the town centre. Pressure for redevelopment has meant that very few buildings remain in urban St Helier which date to before the 19th century, giving the town primarily a Regency or Victorian character.
Pierre Le Sueur, reforming Constable of St Helier, was responsible for installing sewerage and provision of clean water in St Helier following outbreaks of cholera in the 1830s. An obelisk with fountain in the town centre was raised to his memory following his premature death in office from overwork.
In the 1960s, income from the Jersey States Lottery was used to excavate a two-lane road tunnel under Fort Regent, enabling traffic from the harbour to the east coast towns to avoid a torturous route around the fort. About the same time, the Fort was converted into a major leisure facility and was linked to the town centre by a gondola cableway - closed and demolished in the 1990s.
In the 1970s, a programme of pedestrianisation of the central streets was undertaken.
In 1995, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jersey's liberation from Nazi occupation, and thus 50 years of peace, a sculpture was erected in what is now called "Liberation Square", in front of the Pomme d'Or Hotel, the focal point for the celebrations when the island was liberated.
The sculpture was originally to depict islanders releasing doves of peace, but this came under fierce criticism, with some islanders remarking that had any doves been on the island during the occupation, they would have been eaten by starving German soldiers. Therefore, the sculpture was revised to show islanders raising the British flag, as they had done on the day of liberation 50 years previous.
Liberation Square is now a focal point in the town - the former terminus of the Jersey Railway housed the Jersey Tourism office until 2007.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Saint Helier has an oceanic climate. St Helier has cool, wet winters and mild summers with moderate rainfall. Summers on the island tend to be sunnier, but generally cooler than Southern England. January is the coldest month with an average high of 9.5 C (49 F), and a low of 4 C (39 F). August is the warmest month, with an average high of 21 C (70.5 F), and a low of 14 C (57 F). December is the wettest month with 111 mm (4.37 in) of rain, and July is the driest month with 37 mm (1.46 in). Snow is rare. Average Sunshine hours are around 1930 annually.
Saint Helier is the most populated of Jersey's parishes, with 33,522 residents according to the 2011 census.
The parish is divided into vingtaines for administrative purposes:
For electoral purposes, the parish is divided into 4 districts.
All parishes of Jersey, including St Helier, have an Honorary Police force.
With the Constable, the parish therefore has 11 representatives in the States of Jersey (out of 53 elected members).
The Parish also has its own responsibilities and elections to the Municipality of St Helier take place to elect honorary officials who fulfill a variety of roles for Parishioners under the overall control of the Constable, two Procureurs du Bien Public and the Parish Assembly.
The members of the Assessment Committee are elected to agree the rate chargeable to each property in the Parish.
The Accounts Committee are elected to ensure that the accounts of the Parish represent a 'true and fair view' of the state of the Parish finances in order that the Parish Assembly may rely upon the information to set the Parish Rate.
Elected officials are supported by a paid administration within the Parish.
Saint Helier is named for Helier (or Helerius), a 6th-century ascetic hermit. The traditional date of his martyrdom is AD 555. His feast day, marked by an annual municipal and ecumenical pilgrimage to the Hermitage, is on 16 July.
Many places in St Helier have been formally listed as Sites of Special Interest by the Planning and Environment department of Jersey. Not all are mentioned on this page, only those which are most prominent.
Central Market, in Beresford Street, St Helier, is an indoor market which was opened in 1882. It is an official Site of Special Interest, and is popular with tourists and locals. It features Victorian architecture including cast iron structures, and an ornamental fountain in the centre. The market comprises stalls selling flowers, fruit and vegetables, as well as small shops and cafés.
Beresford Market is a separate building next to the Central Market and specialises in fishmongery.
Saint Helier is twinned with:
Saint Helier contains cultural facilities at the Jersey Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Jersey Opera House, the Jersey Arts Centre, the performance venue of St James, the sports and entertainment facilities at Fort Regent, the Jersey Library, the library of La Société Jersiaise and the Jersey Archive www.jerseyheritage.org.
Sports facilities include Springfield Stadium, swimming pools, pétanque pitches, and badminton. Motor sports events take place on roads in the Parish as well as an annual Town Criterium, and the start and finish of the Jersey Marathon.
The parish has hosted the Jersey Battle of Flowers carnival since 1902.
The 1957 World Professional Match-play Championship was a snooker tournament held from 1 to 13 April in Saint Helier, Jersey. This was the first time the final was held outside England. The World Championship was not held again until 1964. John Pulman won his first world title by defeating Jackie Rea 39–34 in the 73-frame final. Rea led in the early stages but Pulman pulled ahead and took a winning lead of 37–29 after the final afternoon session.In the 1956/1957 News of the World Snooker Tournament that had been played from October 1956 to March 1957, John Pulman had been handicapped as the fourth strongest player. None of the three higher handicapped players (Joe Davis, Fred Davis and Walter Donaldson) played in the Championship.Albert Bedane
Albert Gustave Bedane (1893–1980) lived in Jersey during the German occupation during World War II, and provided shelter to a Jewish woman and others, preventing their capture by the Nazis.
He was born in Angers in France in 1893 and lived in Jersey from 1894. He served in the British Army 1917-1920 and was naturalised as a British subject by the Royal Court of Jersey in 1921. By profession he was a masseur/physiotherapist.
In 1966 the Soviet government presented Albert Bedane (along with other Jersey resistance activists who had helped and sheltered escaped Soviet slave-workers) with a gold watch. On 4 January 2000, Albert Bedane was recognised as Righteous Among the Nations.
A plaque erected by the Vingtaine de la Ville marks the site of his home in Roseville Street, Saint Helier, where he sheltered escapees.
In 2004 BBC South West launched an audience vote for South West Heroes. The four nominations from Jersey, which falls within the BBC's South West broadcasting region, were Gerald Durrell, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Billy Butlin and Albert Bedane.In 2010, Bedane was posthumously named a British Hero of the Holocaust by the British Government.BBC Radio Jersey
BBC Radio Jersey (Jèrriais:BBC Radio Jèrri) is the BBC Local Radio service for Jersey, Channel Islands. It broadcasts from Saint Helier on 88.8 FM, 1026 AM and online.Like other BBC enterprises in Jersey, funding comes primarily from television licence fees collected in Jersey.According to RAJAR, the station has a weekly audience of 24,000 listeners and a 17% share as of December 2018.Battle of Jersey
The Battle of Jersey (6 January 1781) was an attempt by French forces to invade Jersey and remove the threat the island posed to French and American shipping in the Anglo-French War. Jersey provided a base for British privateers, and France, engaged in the war as an ally of the United States, sent an expedition to gain control of the island.
The French expedition ultimately failed. Its commander, Baron Philippe de Rullecourt, died of wounds sustained in the fighting. The battle is often remembered for the death of the British officer Major Peirson, and a painting based on his final moments by John Singleton Copley.Beaulieu Convent School
Beaulieu Convent School is a Roman Catholic independent school for girls located in St Helier, Jersey.
The school was established in 1951 by sisters from the Order of the Immaculate Conception. In 1999 the Order of the Immaculate Conception gifted Beaulieu School, the site and its buildings to the island of Jersey on the understanding it would remain a Catholic School.
Today the school is divided into preschool, primary and secondary departments, and also operates a sixth form. Courses of study offered at the school include GCSEs, A Levels and BTECs.Catholic Church in Jersey
The Catholic Church in Jersey is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.Elizabeth Castle
Elizabeth Castle is a castle and tourist attraction, on a tidal island within the parish of Saint Helier, Jersey. Construction was started in the 16th century when the power of cannon meant that the existing stronghold at Mont Orgueil was insufficient to defend the Island and the port of St. Helier was vulnerable to attack by ships armed with cannon.
It is named after Elizabeth I who was the queen of England around the time the castle was built.Francis Jeune
Francis Jeune or François Jeune (22 May 1806 – 21 August 1868) was a Jersey-born academic and churchman who served as Dean of Jersey (1838–1844) Master of Pembroke College, Oxford (1844–1864) and Bishop of Peterborough (1864–1868).Gabriel Poulain
Gabriel Poulain was a French champion cyclist. He made several attempts to achieve human-powered flight and in July 1921 won a prize of 10,000 francs awarded by Peugeot for a flight of ten metres at a height of one metre, on a bicycle with two wing planes in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris.Geography of Jersey
This article describes the geography of Jersey, an island territory in the English Channel. The island of Jersey has an area of 119 square kilometres, with 70 kilometres of coastline. Jersey claims a territorial sea of 3 nmi (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) and an exclusive fishing zone of 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi).
Jersey is the largest and southernmost of the Channel Islands. It is located north of Brittany and west of the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. About 30% of the population of the island is concentrated in Saint Helier, which is a parish and the capital town of the island.Honorary Police
There is an Honorary Police (French: Police Honorifique) force in each of the 12 parishes of Jersey. Members of the Honorary Police are elected by the voters of the parish in which they serve, and are unpaid.
Honorary Police officers have, for centuries, been elected by parishioners to assist the Connétable of the Parish to maintain law and order. Officers are elected as Centeniers, Vingteniers or Constable's Officers, each with various duties and responsibilities.
Until the 19th century the Honorary Police provided the only civilian law enforcement in Jersey. However, in the early part of the 19th century, crime was widespread among the urban population in Saint Helier (around 25,000 people) and paid police officers for the Parish of Saint Helier were appointed in 1853 and their remit was later extended to serve the whole Island as the States of Jersey Police. However, even today the SOJP cannot charge anyone with an offence – charges have to be brought by the Centenier of the parish in which the alleged offence was committed – and as such the Honorary Police continue to have a significant role in policing.Jersey Opera House
The Jersey Opera House is a working theatre and opera house in La Vingtaine de la Ville, Saint Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands. The theatre building is administered by the States of Jersey but is managed by Jersey Opera House Limited. The current theatre director is Jasmine Hendry.The current building is a 1922 reconstruction (by Jesty & Baker) of the 1900 original building by Adolphus Curry (1848-1910), with additional extension facilities provided since. The façade has been described as "imposing and slightly Frenchified".Its chandelier has 10,200 pieces and is carefully cleaned about every five years.Saint-Hélier, Côte-d'Or
Saint-Hélier is a commune in the Côte-d'Or department in eastern France.Vingtaine de Bas du Mont au Prêtre
Vingtaine de Bas du Mont au Pretre is one of the five vingtaines of St. Helier Parish on the Channel Island of Jersey. It is also known as electoral district no. 2 in St. Helier.The Roads Inspectors for this Vingtaine are Mr. Paul Huelin and Mr. Daren O'TooleVingtaine de Haut du Mont au Prêtre
Vingtaine de Haut du Mont au Pretre is one of the five vingtaines of St. Helier Parish on the Channel Island of Jersey.Vingtaine de la Ville
The Vingtaine de la Ville is one of the six vingtaines of Saint Helier in Jersey, and roughly corresponds to the historic town centre and harbours. It is divided into two cantons:
Canton de Bas de la Vingtaine de la Ville
Canton de Haut de la Vingtaine de la VilleThe Vingtaine de la Ville maintains an autonomous financial existence, unlike other vingtaines in Jersey, thanks to an endowment which has its origins in the purchase of Le Mont de la Ville by the British government in 1804. Formerly, Le Mont de la Ville, a craggy plateau overlooking the town of St. Helier, was topped by open common land used for grazing and rabbit hunting. In 1785 part of the plateau was levelled as a parade ground, which led to the discovery of a dolmen which the vingtaine presented to the Governor of Jersey, General Henry Seymour Conway (later Field Marshal), who subsequently transported it to his estate at Henley-on-Thames where it was re-erected. As it is now a listed monument in the United Kingdom, attempts to have it returned to Jersey have been to no avail. The continuing Napoleonic threat persuaded the British government to fortify the hill and Fort Regent was constructed. The proceeds from the sale established the original fund that lay at the foundation of the finances managed by the vingtaine's two elected procureurs today.
Until 1831, a large number of bodies and individuals in Jersey issued their own banknotes. The parishes of Jersey issued notes, as did the Vingtaine de la Ville. Legislation in 1831 attempted to regulate such issues, but the parishes and the Vingtaine de la Ville were exempted from the regulatory provisions. Gradually, administrative and financial functions carried out by the vingtaine were taken over by the parish and by the States of Jersey.Vingtaine du Mont Cochon
Vingtaine du Mont Cochon is one of the six vingtaines of the Parish of St. Helier, in the Channel Island of Jersey.
It is close to St Lawrence.Vingtaine du Mont à l'Abbé
The Vingtaine du Mont à l'Abbé is one of six vingtaines of the Parish of Saint Helier in the Channel Island of Jersey.Vingtaine du Rouge Bouillon
The Vingtaine du Rouge Bouillon is one of the six vingtaines of St. Helier Parish in the Channel Island of Jersey.
|Climate data for St Helier, United Kingdom|
|Average high °C (°F)||9.5
|Average low °C (°F)||4.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||90.4
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||19.0||15.9||16.3||13.3||12.2||10.7||9.9||10.1||13.3||17.0||19.2||19.5||176.4|
|Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN)|
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