Thus far, the Bailiwick of Jersey, a 9 x 5 miles island, had not disappointed us. Regardless of its small territorial size, it was proving to rack up many large discoveries as enjoyed earlier in the day (and further described in our previous blog post) at the Mansell Collection (heaven for race car aficionados) and at the Jersey War Tunnels (for its exceptional exhibition located deep underground filled with history during Hitler's reign).
I start this blog by situating my in-laws, my husband and I outside an unassuming building. Although Barry and I had done our extensive homework in planning our itinerary, our expectations would once more be superseded upon entry to this modest white concrete church. Oh, it was divine! Although small inside, the church captivated our attention with its glass art found in its interior fittings, cross, screens, reredos and font. Unequivocally, we were in St. Matthew's Glass Church (http://glasschurch.org).
Prior to becoming the Glass Church, St. Matthew's history spans back to the mid 1800s as a modest church. However, in 1934, as a token of her affection, and as a way to honor her late husband, Jesse Boot (owner of Boots the Chemist, a pharmacy chain in the United Kingdom and Ireland), Mrs. Florence Boot rebuilt the church in his memory. She hired René Lalique, glassmaker extraordinaire, to decorate the entire church. Lucky for us that we had the opportunity to spend quality time amongst ourselves admiring the glass art which "has the ethereal brilliance of Arctic ice,” as once described by a contemporary critic.
No Muss, No Fuss Grub
After basking in crystalline angels and lilies, these four souls stepped outside the sanctuary's peaceful energy and grounded themselves in search for a quick lunch. Our itinerary was leading us back from Millbrook, Saint Lawrence into the center of town where we would wrap up our day in St. Aubin's Bay. We came across "The Kiosk", a good little place to refuel, where we enjoyed a decently priced yet flavorful fried
veggie burger and an egg burger. We liked the fact that we could pleasantly sit outside while connecting ourselves with the rest of the world via free wifi.
It was soon after when we made the executive decision to walk along the bay whilst admiring the panoramic view of the beach and its low tide. It was the best choice ever.
Location, Location, Location!
It was a gorgeous day to be outdoors and the esplanade walk was exactly what we needed. It took us nearly half an hour to make it to the tidal island called L'Islet (The Islet) where we joyfully walked to Elizabeth Castle since it was low tide (http://www.jerseyheritage.org/places-to-visit/elizabeth-castle). Walking along the causeway offered such an amazing experience. Oh what a sight! We felt as if we were on another planet traversing a large swampy desert, and I absolutely loved it! I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
It is important to mention that the castle's history began in the late 16th century when the Governors of Jersey moved their official residence from Mont Orgueil to Elizabeth Castle due to the invention of the cannon. Mont Orgueil no longer had the ability to defend the Island while the port of St. Helier was vulnerable to attacks by ships with cannons. Hence, the Island's major fortress required a change of zip code in order to keep up with warfare times.
It's All About Strategy
Upon entering Elizabeth Castle we came across a very kind and helpful Scotsman from Glasgow who worked on the castle grounds. He immediately offered us valuable advice on how to approach our visit since there was so much to see and learn.
His helpful words started us off by enjoying the view from the battlements and turrets and eventually making it to the back of the castle where there were a couple of museums focusing on military memorabilia, cannons and fortifications. Finally, we were to make it to the Hermitage Rock prior to 4:30pm, because that is when the door
is closed to visit where St. Helier, an ascetic hermit and patron saint of Jersey, is thought to have lived around 550 A.D. It is worth noting that although walking the grounds was easy the pathways were made out of cobblestone and the stairs to the turrets and bunkers did not have rails.
It took us nearly three hours to explore Elizabeth Castle's over three centuries of history, and thanks to our Scottish friend's plan of action we accomplished our goal; we came, we saw, we had fun.
I must admit that we did stray away from our plan when we unanimously decided to try a famous real Jersey ice cream. OH MY GOSH! Right then and there we learned that Jersey indeed offers the real ice cream. I have no idea what makes those Jersey cows produce such rich milk but the ice cream was rich and "fluffy"...it had texture!
Closing time loomed over our heads and the only way back to St. Helier was by taking the amphibious Castle Ferry. None of us had ridden on one before so the short yet tortoiselike ride jovially wrapped up our day. We were riding the high tide and there was no rush to get back onto land for time was on our side.
And speaking of time, we invite you to join us in our next BESPOKE travel blog post when we visit the TENTH OLDEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD along with the first fortress in Jersey!
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!