The Celtic Saint, Brelade, founded a small community on a rocky ledge overlooking a sheltered bay in the C5th and there has been a church on this site from at least 1000AD. When Jersey was divided up into parishes in the C12th, this became the Parish Church of St Brelade. The church has one of the few surviving Medieval chapels, the Fisherman’s chapel next to it.
St Brelade’s Church dates from the late C11th and has some of the earliest Norman work on the island. The chancel is the oldest part of the building. By the mid C12th most of the nave and saddleback tower had been built. Transepts and a north aisle were added during the C14th and the nave was extended.
The small round tourelle by the south porch, contains a spiral staircase that gave access to the top of the Rood Loft and also the tower.
The church originally had five bells but in 155, there was an Order of Council requiring the removal of all but one of the bells, which were then sold as scrap to provide money for the fortification of Elizabeth and Mont Orgueil Castles.
There was a major restoration in the late C19th when the crossing vault was in danger of collapse. Whitewashed plaster was stripped from the walls, exposing the underlying granite with pebbles from the beach. The floor was repaved with different colours of Jersey granite, meant to represent waves breaking on the shore. The rood screen, new choir stalls and pulpit were reinstalled.
Entry is through the west porch into the nave. Above are two of the original small Norman windows. The sockets for the cross bar to secure the church door against intruders can still be seen. By the door is a list of rectors from 1206.
The nave is long and narrow with few windows, making the church feel dark and intimate.
An arcade of squat round pillars separate it from the later north aisle .
The walls sweep upwards to form a vaulted roof. The carefully dressed stones of the crossing arch dating from the C19th restoration can just be seen in this photograph.
The stained glass in the nave is C19th.
The altar is still the original altar slab with five consecration crosses carved on it. set in the wall on the right is a rare example of a double piscina
The priest washed his hands in one basin. The other was used to rinse the communion vessels. The wooden chair to the left of the altar is used by the Bishop when he visits.
The east window is C19th and depicts the Last Supper.
The north aisle feels larger than the nave. The putlog holes supported the framework for the construction of the vaulted roof.
The font by the door was removed during the Reformation along with the stained glass windows. It was found on the hillside above the church, overgrown with gorse and bracken and returned to the church in 1840. The wooden top is modern.
At the end of the north aisle, separated by a stone arch, is the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
The wooden altar has a carved ivory figure of Christ Crucified, flanked by Mary and St John.
The memorials were moved from the nave and placed on the walls here.
The display case contains communion vessels.
The Church and Fisherman’s Chapel are open daily from 8.30-7.