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Page last updated at 09:56 GMT, Friday, 21 May 2010 10:56 UK
1,400 years of religious history in Herm's chapel
St Tugual's Chapel
The chapel's west door that was reopened in the 1960s

Herm is best known as a relaxing summer retreat but before that it was a retreat with a religious significance.

Nestled among the buildings that make up the manor village at the top of the island is the current manifestation of this, St Tugual's Chapel.

The chapel dates back to the 11th century when the island was a haven for an order of monks.

However, there is evidence that the site has had religious significance since the 6th century.

Herm tour guide, Leslie Bailey, said "they're not sure if the church was named because St Tugual went there or if the church was established by his followers", but she said he was known to be based in Brittany for some of his life so he may well have visited the island.

Stained glass window
A stained glass image of Noah's Ark, complete with Guernsey cows

St Tugual's Chapel as it appears in 2010 was built by an order of Norman monks who lived on the island and was designed in such a way that they could sit in the building's north nave without being seen by the public who would sit in the west portion of the chapel.

In the years before the Wood family took hold of the lease on the island, in 1949, the grounds around the west and south of the chapel had become overgrown and it was in their time that the churchyard come garden was made around the church.

This reopened the west entrance of the church and revealed four windows which had been covered over some time prior to this. When the windows were cleared new stained glass ones were commissioned featuring religious scenes with local touches.

St Tugual's Chapel
The garden was made by the Woods when they cleared the chapel grounds

One of the windows is a scene of the animals boarding Noah's Ark and features a pair of Guernsey cows while another is an image of Jesus talking to the fishermen with a backdrop of Herm harbour.

The church itself is un-consecrated and therefore nondenominational, but Leslie explained that services were held there by a lay preacher on a weekly basis over the summer and there were occasions when the Dean of Guernsey or other members of the clergy visited for special services.

The chapel is also open for the island's residents over the winter when monthly services are held and at Christmas the school children perform their nativity play in the building.

Leslie said for Herm's residents St Tugual's Chapel is "a very special place... a place where we can gather", and added that it is an important part of Bailiwick history as it demonstrates part of Herm's long history.

A history of Guernsey's churches
30 Oct 09 |  Religion & Ethics



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