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Situated in the northeastern corner of the island, Saint Martin is one of the twelve parishes of the Channel Island of Jersey. It has been called Saint Martin le Vieux in order to distinguish it from what is today the parish of Grouville, which was historically called Saint Martin de Grouville. The parish is bordered by Trinity to the west and north, St. Savior to its west and south, and Grouville to its south. Occupying nearly the entire northeastern portion of the island with its jagged coastline which extends from Rozel Bay on the north to Gorey Harbour on the south, and including St. Catherine's Bay and numerous smaller inlets. In 1847, at the northern limit of St. Catherine's Bay, at Verclut Point, an 826-yard long breakwater was constructed. An octagonal lighthouse with its light sixty feet above sea level sits at the seaward end.

For administrative purposes, the parish is divided into La Vingtaine de Rozel, La Vingtaine de Faldouet, La Vingtaine de la Quéruée, La Vingtaine de l'Église, and La Vingtaine du Fief de la Reine. Saint Martin is the only Jersey parish that does not conduct its official business from a parish hall, instead using a public hall which is paid by the States of Jersey to provide an assembly room.

The prehistoric castle of Mont Orgueil looms large in the tiny village of Gorey and Gorey Harbour. It was fortified in ancient times but after the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204, the castle was built. It was the main defense of Jersey prior to the development of gunpowder, after which the castle was neutered and said to be vulnerable even to a musket shot. The construction of Mont Orgueil's replacement, Elizabeth Castle began at the end of the 16th century off the coast of Saint Helier. The proposal to raze the old castle and use the stones for the new fort was turned down by Sir Walter Raleigh, the Governor of Jersey at the time. The castle still stands today. The English Crown sent its more bothersome criminals away from England, and Jersey was far enough, so Orgueil served as the prison for the island of Jersey int another prison was built in Saint Helier in the 17th century. The prisoners were transferred to Elizabeth Castle around 1693.

St. Martin's Parish Church in Saint Martin on Jersey is dedicated to St. Martin-le-Vieux and should not be confused with Grouville, which is dedicated to St. Martin, Bishop of Tours. It is stone vaulted and has a red tile roof. It also has numerous supporting buttresses. The tower has been struck by lightning twice. In 1616, the strike broke the spire into two pieces. It happened as people were entering the church. The spire was rebuilt, but in 1837, it happened again. The church records have been preserved going back to the 1590s.

One of the most unusual things about this church visible almost immediately. Over the eaves, just beneath the clock is an antique sundial. It was given to the church in 1732 by the Vicomte, George Bandinel. The current bell was bought in 1768. There are two human faces carved inside the church, the first one over the window of the vestry and the other on the south wall. No one seems to know whose faces they are or why they are there. Additionally, there are two gargoyles with water spouts which date back to before the Reformation.

 

 

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