St Helier is the main town on Jersey, the largest island of the Channel Islands. It lies at the eastern end of a lovely bay called St Aubin’s Bay. The town’s name originates from the name of an abbey which was built on a tidal island just offshore. The abbey has since been replaced by a castle called Elizabeth Castle, named after Queen Elizabeth I by Sir Walter Raleigh, who was Governor of Jersey at the time. However, the town’s earlier origins are believed to date back to Roman times.
It is impossible to visit the Channel Islands without coming across stories about what happened there during the Second World War, when they were subjected to a Nazi occupation. One of the reminders of this time in St Helier is a square called Liberation Square, which was the scene of great rejoicing when the occupation ended. There is a sculpture in the square which was erected in 1995 for the 50th anniversary of the liberation. Seemingly in imitation of the Bayeux Tapestry for which their near neighbours the French are famed, the local people produced a 12-panel Occupation Tapestry, also in commemoration of the 50th anniversary, which is housed in the Maritime Museum. There were plenty of earlier conflicts which took place here, not surprisingly involving the French, given the proximity to France. Another square in St Helier called Royal Square, which houses a statue of George II, was the scene of the last attempt by the French to seize Jersey during the Battle of Jersey in 1781. Happily, those turbulent times are now easily forgotten as one takes pleasure in the continental atmosphere and benign climate which reign supreme here.
One of the most spectacular annual events in Jersey is the Battle of Flowers, which takes place in August. For more events on Jersey, see here.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 Steven Duhig | more info (via: Wylio)