On the south coast of Jersey lies a small bay with an interesting story, the story of Janvrin’s Tomb, which is not a tomb after all. If you take out from St Helier towards the west about 8 km and follow signs towards Portelet bay you end up in a parking lot near a pub called Portelet Inn. From here you go down some stairs, bend your neck under a few branches and you soon find yourself on a beautiful sandy beach. Light yellow sand between your toes, the sun in your face and the view! Crystal clear water, and at high tide a tiny island in the middle of the bay.
As you lay on the beach, working hard on your tan, you wonder about this little island and the stubby, round tower on the top of it. As I said, there’s a story buried there. The island’s name is L’Île au Guerdain, and in 1721, the seafarer Philippe Janvrin from nearby St. Brelade returned from France, ill with fever. As there was a plague in France, the ship was to be held in quarantine. Philippe Janvrin died after two days of the quarantine. He was buried on this little island.
It is said that his body was later moved to the churchyard in St. Brelade, but according to The Island Wiki, there is no sign of a tombstone in St. Brelade, nor is there any entry of his reburial in the church registry.
At low tide it is possible to walk over to the little island, and you can explore the tower, which is a Martello tower like many others throughout the coast of Jersey. The tower was erected in 1808 during the Napoleonic Wars. Only the ground floor of the tower is accessible, and it consists of one room with one window. In it’s day the tower was occupied by a sergeant and 12 men and armed with a cannon.
More about Jersey:
Photo location: La Corbière Lighthouse