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Saint Helier is one of twelve parishes of Jersey and the capital of the island of Jersey. The the Government House, however, is located in Saint Saviour. Jersey is the largest island in the Channel Islands, and more than a third of the population of Jersey resides there. Originally a fishing village adjacent to the parish church, the town is on Saint Aubin’s Bay, across from L’Islet, a tidal island. “L’Islet is accessible via a causeway during low tide.

The parish town was settled sometime between 13 BC and 486 AD. The town is named in honor of Saint Helier, the martyr who brought Christianity to Jersey, as well as to Brittany and Normandy. It is said that he was martyred in what is now the town.

In 1155, the Abbey of St. Helier was founded on L’Islet. The abbey was closed during the Reformation when the Crown captured all of the monastic buildings.

In the 13th century, markets there flourished to the point that the king’s courts met there to take advantage of the goods.

Construction of the Elizabeth Castle, conceived in order to defend Jersey, was begun in 1551 and finished in 1590. From 1646 to 1649, it was where Lord Clarendon holed up to begin writing his book, “History of the Rebellion.” The Governor of Jersey from 1600 to 1603, Sir Walter Raleigh, named the castle in honor of Queen Elizabeth I.

During the English Civil War, in 1651, the Parliamentarians bombarded the castle, and the battle lasted seven weeks. The Parliamentarians held Jersey for nine years, and left only after the monarchy was restored,

In 1852 Victoria College came into being.

The Germans occupied all of the Channel Islands during World War II, due to Hitler’s dream of fortifying the Channel Islands to the point of being absolutely impenetrable. They used prisoners of war as slave Labour and upgraded the castle with bunkers, battlements, and guns.

The harbour was modernized in the mid-17th century, and today, the old marketplace is the location of the States House, Fort Regent, and the public library.


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