St Jude's Chapel

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St Jude's Chapel

This article by Leslie Sinel was first published in the 1978 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

The chapel was later used by builders' merchants

St Jude, the writer of a very short Epistle, is believed to have been present at the Feeding of the Multitude and also with Jesus when he gave the Sermon on the Mount. In St John's account of the Last Supper he is referred to as "Judas, not Iscariot", with tradition affirming that he was a cousin of Jesus, because his mother was the Virgin's sister and his father the brother of Joseph. A chronicler says that "as he answered requests that were presumed beyond aid", St Jude earned the title of Patron of the Impossible. The mere mention of his name at one time in Jersey was not always popular, for passions ran high and ecclesiastical rulings sought were not always accepted.

Zion Chapel

A deed of trust dated 10 May 1827 states that, for the purpose of building a chapel, the Rev William Morris had bought, in his own name, for his heirs and assigns for ever, a piece of land situated in Zion Place (now Union Street), leading to the Chemin Neuf, or Rue Durell (now New Street), on the Fief of Collette des Augres in the Parish of St Helier, "at the price, provisos, clauses, conditions and restrictions therein contained". The intended building, to be named Zion Chapel, had already been started and was to be completed by means of subscriptions. When finished, it would be consecrated for the purpose of religious worship by "the English Protestant Dissenters of the Independent denomination, whose doctrine and sentiments agreed with the Articles of Faith proposed at Westminister in 1643".

After the chapel had been built the Chronique de Jersey frequently carried advertisements relating to services. It must have undergone some changes, however, for a reference to the property in 1835 stated that it was to be "reopened" on Sunday, 10 November as a Congregational Church, two days after the closing of applications for pew rentals. The Chronique also mentions a Clameur de Haro involving Clement Perrot, the Independent minister and journalist who succeeded his brother Francois, the first Nonconformist minister in Jersey. In 1807 the latter had bought some plots of meadow land in Halkett Place upon which he built a red brick chapel (opened in 1808), rebuilt as it is today in 1854.

In the St Helier Room at the Museum, Zion Chapel is marked but not named on a plan of the town by E Le Gros, who was civil engineer in 1834, and about that time there were several other Independent (or Dissenting) chapels which no longer exist. One in particular was the Albion Chapel in New Street. An extract from its baptismal register, taken from a book which was in the possession of the minister of Victoria Street Chapel (now the United Reformed Church), is interesting. With few exceptions, the children christened were born in St Helier, mainly the offspring of merchants, shopkeepers and captains in the merchant service, with only one English name. Although the officiating minister signed the registration as "pastor" or "dissenting minister", the chapel is mentioned as being in the Diocese of Winchester, which could mean that even dissenters had to obtain the Bishop's approval. The Albion was used frequently by the Baptists, subsequently acquired by the Roman Catholics and became known as the Cercle St Thomas.

Philippe Filleul

Mr Morris did not retain Zion Chapel for himself and his heirs "for ever". It passed into another group of owners and in due course was offered for sale, the number of worshippers having decreased, due probably to other chapels having been built. This prompted the Rev Philippe Filleul, Rector of St Helier, to buy "the Dissenting Chapel in Union Street known as the Chapelle Zion" for the sum of £1,000, to be used as a chapel-of-ease for the parish church. He renamed it "St Jude" and put one of his curates in charge - Thomas Le Neveu, who later became Rector of St Martin - but things did not tum out as well as Filleul had hoped.

For the past 30 years he had been a man to be reckoned with, representative of an age when religion and politics were very much interwoven. Born in 1792 and baptized in St Clement's Church, he matriculated when he was 23, gained his BA two years later and MA in 1820. Leaving Pembroke College, Oxford, having received help from the Don Baudains, he spent the first months of his ministry as a curate in Guernsey before coming on to Jersey as a curate to Dean Dupre, Rector of St Helier. He went next as curate at St John's and then became Rector successively of St Brelade and St Peter.

Through his strong advocacy he was mainly responsible in 1830 for the abolition of Sunday elections, usually taking place in church after morning service, but when 12 years later a Methodist revival swept the Island, he disapproved strongly. Many provocative articles were written by him, especially for the Magazin de l'Eglise Anglicane, and he stirred up controversy in public debates with Daniel Robin, one of the Methodist preachers.

Following the death of Dean Hue and also Dean Hemery (Jeune came between them), Filleul was nominated for the office, but to his great disappointment the Crown appointed another. When Edouard Durell died in 1848, Filleul took his place as Rector of St Saviour, then two years later the Rectorate of St Helier was conferred upon him by Lord Beresford, the last to be designated Governor of Jersey. Filleul was to remain in that office for 25 years, G R Balleine aptly commenting in his Biographical Dictionary that the Rector's boundless energy transformed the parish but that his lack of tact made his incumbency a stormy one.

St Andrew's Church on the Esplanade

Ecclesiastical districts

As the town had grown rapidly and more than 20,000 parishioners could not be accommodated in the parish church, Filleul saw the need for more buildings and set about dividing the parish into ecclesiastical districts. Four churches had already been built, and work was proceeding with St Luke's. The harbour at that time was always full of shipping, so a carpenter's shop in Castle Street was made into a mission church with a curate in charge - forerunner of the original church of St Andrew on the Esplanade, mainly intended for the seafaring population.

St Simon's sprang from services held by another curate in the Cannon Street Ragged School, opened in 1866 and granted a district four years later, the piscina that was installed having been thrown out of the Town Church during the Parliamentary regime. These divisions of the parish caused much friction, for many resented having been cut off from ...

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... and the old locked pews were replaced by open oak seats. The nave was lengthened towards the west, a south transept with gallery was built, a place for the choir was made in the chancel and the windows filled with tracery and stained-glass.

Investment in sheep

As church building and restoration needed a lot of money, Filleul explored every possibility to raise it, but when in 1858, in all good faith, he launched a scheme that seemed foolproof it was to cause him great embarrassment. This involved two of his sons who had emigrated to New Zealand and bought a sheep-run in Otago, sending home glowing accounts of the profits to be made, which their father publicized in a lengthy pamphlet.

Many Jersey churchmen were therefore persuaded to buy sheep and entrust them to the care of the young Filleuls, the investors taking five per cent on their money and anything over going towards church purposes. One year's handsome dividend was 18 per cent. and then 22, but a slump came, profits disappeared and the investors turned upon the Rector to brand him as a swindler. He urged patience and got very little sympathy, but fortunately the sheep industry recovered and before his death in 1875 Filleul was able to repay in full with the addition of a substantial bonus.

Church windows

St Jude's had served a useful purpose during the restoration of the parish church, for it had a seating capacity of 500 and was not far away. For some time afterwards services were continued there until old age and other causes forced the Rector to close it. At his death, no record could be found as to his intention for the disposal of the chapel and his eldest son and principal heir, the Rev Philip Valpy Mourant Filleul, offered his help in transferring the property to the Rector of St Helier (Dean Le Breton) for church purposes in the parish.

This was refused and the chapel remained empty and disused for several years. It gradually fell into a bad state and a hurricane blew off part of the roof, causing damage to neighbouring property. The matter was brought before the Royal Court, but there was deadlock as it was difficult to establish legal ownership. Eventually Mr Filleul gave an assurance that if put into legal possession he would undertake all responsibility, and the Court decreed that the chapel be made over unconditionally to the late Rector's family and to his eldest son as principal heir.

With the formal consent of the co-heirs, St Jude's was sold in 1885 for the sum of £475, being reduced by legal charges, etc., to £450. Added to this amount was the net value of two funds formed by the late Rector for the endowment of and repairs to the chapel, which meant that the total sum from various sources was £621. Having then the power to deal with these moneys, Mr Filleul entered into negotiation with Dean Balleine and offered to transfer the whole sum, plus any subsequent increments, to trustees for the benefit of the church in Jersey and the extension of its work.

The offer was gratefully received and in consequence the "Filleul Church Endowment Fund" was established in 1891, to be administered permanently by six trustees - three clergy and three laymen, plus the Dean as chairman. It was stipulated that the money invested had to reach the capital sum of £1,000 sterling before the trustees, at their discretion, were empowered to dispense any of the interest, which was mainly to augment incomes of benefices or curacies in the Island falling short of £300 per annum. Unfortunately, values have so fallen that the original intention has little bearing on present-day demands, but the fund is still being administered and the wish is often expressed that there were more of a similar nature.

The chapel chairs

En passant, another scheme for which the Rector had worked very hard was the establishment of a bishopric of the Channel Islands, which would also have the supervision of Continental chaplaincies. Between 1858 and 1865 he paid frequent visits to England to expound his plans to bishops and politicians, but although he obtained some support the project came to naught.

St Jude's was bought by Mr T W Le Blancq, who made it a store for drainpipes, etc, it becoming known as the Pottery Depot. Mr Le Blancq, who already had a business in Beresford Street, was the agent for Doulton ware and the first in Jersey to import agricultural machinery. At his death in the early part of this century the business went to his son-in-law, Mr T F Pirouet, then to his grandson and a company was formed some years ago.

Constant adaptations have been made to keep the old building in line with the demands of modern service, but there are still reminders of its ecclesiastical origin. From the outside there is nothing to suggest this, but inside can be seen some of the old oak supports and a ceiling similar to those found in other religious buildings. Three Gothic-type windows also remain and, owing to the difficulty of scaffolding, it is doubtful if they have been painted since it was a chapel.

Probably known to a few, an old door from St Jude's was found at Pirouet's in 1948 under a pile of rubbish, and when cleaned it was placed in the little chapel of Toc H on Route du Fort. Also two chairs used by the clergy are in the possession of Miss L M Bois, a granddaughter of Mr Le Blancq, heirlooms that will be treasured for a long time to come.

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