Wednesday 26 January 2022
Select a region

Rector dismisses "rumours" after grave accusations against loo project

Rector dismisses

Thursday 29 March 2018

Rector dismisses "rumours" after grave accusations against loo project

Allegations that nearly 30 graves have been disturbed to make way for a new church toilet have been dimissed as “rumours” by “people trying to stir trouble” by the Rector at the heart of the project.

The comments came from St. Lawrence Rector Reverend Phil Warren, who last month secured support for the extension to his parish’s 800-year-old church following one of the most hotly contested local battles in living memory.

The toilet, which was intended to make the 12th century building more disability-friendly, bitterly divided the island community, with campaigners claiming that it would irreparably damage “one of the island’s finest medieval buildings.” 

However, they were outvoted in a strongly-attended parish meeting on 27 February, and construction is now due to commence within the fortnight.

But before that can happen, the Société Jersiaise are undertaking an archaeological dig of the area, leading to fresh claims from the anti-toilet lobby that the construction should be halted.

St Lawrence

Pictured: Parishioners queue to cast their vote in the loo dispute.

It has been alleged that the dig has dredged up several precious artefacts, and even involved removing the skeletons of up to 29 pre-Reformation era parishioners from their final place of rest. 

“Absolute sacrilege, desecration and destruction of a sacred burial site and an invaluable part of our Jersey heritage. Maybe it will make people realise how important it is to look after our beautiful churches and maybe even stand against the same happening to their parish church,” one campaigner commented in a St. Lawrence Church conservation social media group. 

Excavators and the Rector declined to confirm their findings so far when questioned by Express, stating that they will not offer any information until the dig has concluded.

“I think this parish has had enough of people stirring and spreading rumours, and the best thing is when we know the facts and the truth, we will share it,” Reverend Warren told Express.

Pictured: St. Lawrence Church as seen from the road. (Google Maps)

While he said that he hoped the vote would be the conclusion to what has been a long-running and, at times, hostile debate, he added that he was dismayed to see rumours still being circulated by those unhappy with the result.

“Someone said that we’d found treasure, but that’s certainly not what I know or understand. There are lots of rumours and things being said, and actually there are a few people still trying to stir trouble, and I think it’s a shame after all the parish has been through.”

The Société are due to complete their excavations after Easter, and will then prepare a report on their discoveries, which the Reverend said he looked forward to sharing. 

“With any kind of work that relates to such history, tradition, the life of the parish is a really good thing. I’m a historian by background so I really value these things. I just want to make sure that when the work is complete, we can talk about it in an informative way.”

 St Lawrence Church Excavation

Pictured: The Société Jersiaise excavations underway.

It is known that the northwest side of the church was an area once reserved for the burial of paupers. A dig in the pathway undertaken by the Société back in 1890 once revealed a long ‘cist grave’ – a rectangular chest built of stones – containing the skeleton of a woman thought to be in her 50s.


Sign up to newsletter



Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.

Posted by John Henwood on
Isn't it interesting that those who complain loudest about the lack of democracy in our Island are often among those who find it hardest to accept a democratic decision. To them I say this: you had your opportunity, you fought your campaign, you aired you views among your peers and you lost. Move on.
Posted by nigel pearce on
It is about time that any grave over one hundred years old should be cleared and any remains (bones) cremated. At that age, nobody would have personally known the buried person.
Posted by Richard Miles on
What treasure?
To place a comment please login

You have landed on the Bailiwick Express website, however it appears you are based in . Would you like to stay on the site, or visit the site?