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St Helier

ST HELIER, the chief town of Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. Pop. (1901) 27,866. It lies on the south coast of the island on the eastern side of St Aubin's Bay. The harbour is flanked on the W. by a rocky ridge on which stands Elizabeth Castle, and commanded on the east by Fort Regent on its lofty promontory. The parish church is a cruciform building with embattled tower, dating in part from the 14th century. It contains a monument to Major Peirson, who on the occasion of a French attack on Jersey in 1781 headed the militia to oppose them, and forced them to surrender, but was killed as his followers were at the point of victory. The French leader, Baron de Rullecourt, is buried in the churchyard. The spot where Peirson fell, in what is now called Peirson Place, is marked by a tablet. A large canvas by John Singleton Copley depicting the scene is in the National Gallery, London, and a copy is in the court house of St Helier. This building (la Cohue), in Royal Square, is the meeting-place of the royal court and deliberative States of Jersey. Victoria College was opened in 1852 and commemorates a visit of Queen Victoria and the prince consort to the island in 1846. A house in Marine Terrace is distinguished as the residence of Victor Hugo (1851- 1855). Elizabeth Castle, which is connected with the mainland by a causeway, dates from 1551-1590; and in 1646 and 1649 Prince Charles resided here. In 1649 he was proclaimed king, as Charles II., in Jersey by the royalist governor George Carteret. On actually coming to the throne he gave the island the mace which is still used at the meetings of the court and States. Close to the castle are remnants of a chapel or cell, from which the rock on which it stands is known as the Hermitage, dating probably from the gth or 10th century, and traditionally connected with the patron saint Helerius.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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