Parish of Grouville


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Grouville is unique in Jersey as it is the only parish not to be named after its dedicated Saint, in this case St Martin. Uncertainty surrounds the origins of the name but a well-documented theory is that Grouville is named after a 9th century diplomat, Gervold of Fontenelle. It appears that he spent some time in Jersey, establishing a village near the east coast. A ville of Gervold is mentioned here in Middle Age documents and it seems possible that over the years Gervoldville has become Grouville. Historically, Grouville has been a rural and agricultural parish, the oldest windmill in Jersey dating back to 1331 can be found here, and it has been host to a number of important sites and events. The parish is home to La Hougue Bie, a Neolithic burial mound built over 5000 years ago, which is one of the most important historical sites of its period in Europe. The mound is surmounted by the chapel of Notre Dame de la Clarté, built around the late Twelfth Century, and the Jerusalem Chapel of about 1520. A large number of defensive towers dating back to the 18th century, Seymour Tower for example, can be found along the Grouville coastline, legacies of the numerous attempted invasions by the French. The most significant of these invasions came on 5 January 1781 when just before midnight the French landed at La Rocque. The Twelfth Night celebrations that were taking place in Grouville, and this meant an unchallenged landing for the French force that then marched onto St Helier to take part in what has become known as the Battle of Jersey. Prior to 1859, the large bay on the east coast of Grouville was known as La Baie du Vieux Chateau, reflecting the dominant presence of Mont Orgueil castle. However, Queen Victoria was so taken by its beauty on her visit to Jersey of that year that she decreed the bay should be called 'The Royal Bay of Grouville'. In more recent times, a rather unheralded part of the parish found itself at the centre of an Anglo-French diplomatic row that made it's way as high as the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Les Minquiers (The 'Minkies') is a reef located 16 miles south of Grouville and is administered by the parish. It has been used for centuries as a base for Jersey fishermen, much to the annoyance of the French. After years of squabbling and sometimes violence, matters came to a head in 1952 with the question of ownership finally being settled by the court one year later in favour of Jersey. The Grouville Parish Archive has suffered from a fire, which destroyed some of the parish documents. However the collection still contains a series of acts of the Parish Assembly dating back to 1795 and acts of the Roads Committee dating from 1847. The collection also includes information on taverners licences giving details of the hotels, inns and taverns in Grouville in the 19th Century.


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