“The rock of hospitality and freedom.”
- Victor Hugo
The largest of the Channel Islands, Guernsey is one of three islands to comprise the Bailiwick of Guernsey. This windswept island was under German occupation for five years during WWII. Renown writer Victor Hugo called St. Peter Port home after exiled by France, Belgium and Jersey. The island has its own currency, the Guernsey pound.
Explore the island of Guernsey
Guernsey is a self-governing island in the English channel. The 25 square mile island is characterized by a mix of British and French culture, gorgeous coastal views, charming shops and rich history associated with World War II. Wanderlost Magazine | Lane Stafford
Story by: Nicole Morales
The Labor of Love Continues
The Little Chapel in Les Vauxbelets supports the saying that good things, or in this case beautiful ones, come in small packages.
Nestled within its French namesake “beautiful valleys”, the mosaic masterpiece was built by De La Salle monk, Brother Déodat Antoine. He often said, “children learn mostly through their eyes,” and spent 25 years building a chapel designed to capture the wonder of the children he vowed to teach.
Today, this creation is being refurbished by TLC Foundation after severe cracks in the foundation were discovered in 2017.Geoffrey Simon is a contractor for the foundation and has spent the past two years on hands and knees to repair the landmark’s lower alter and staircase.
According to Simon, Brother Déodat’s masterpiece was built using clinker to form the foundation of the chapel’s walls. He allegedly culled the material, a form of residue that is a base for cement, from the island’s greenhouses.
“It’s a difficult process, making sure that the foundation is secured and the clinker is replaced,” Simon said. “But it’s all worth it in the end.”
The Li ttle Chapel
Every inch of Brother Déodat’s masterpiece is beautifully decorated, a chaotic wonder of various materials like local shells, china, glass, bits of pottery and even donated mother of pearl. Simon now undertakes the painstaking process of recreating these hand-laid patterns into the repaired sections.
The Little Chapel that stands today is the Brother Déodat’s third testament to the Grotto at Lourdes. The original building stood just 9ft. by 4.5ft, and Brother Déodat was so hurt by his fellow Brothers’ criticism he tore it down the night he completed it.
The second chapel could accommodate four people comfortably, but his critics still thought it was too small. According to Simon, the Third Bishop of Portsmouth was too portly to fit through the narrow entrance. Refusing to consecrate the chapel, Bishop Cotter instead sanctified the adjacent grotto. Brother Déodat tore down his chapel for a second time in September of 1923.
Although the Little Chapel is a main tourist attraction on Guernsey, not much is known about the private life of the chapel’s meek creator.
According to Eileen Silvester, the secretary of TLC Foundation, Brother Déodat Antoine was born Antoine Treilhaud on July 18, 1878 in La Chevroliere, France. In addition to building the Little Chapel, Brother Déodat was also maintained the Sacristies and altar boys.
“He is remembered as a tall man, about 6 feet in height, slim build and dark hair,” she said. “He used snuff and used a large red and white handkerchief, much to the amusement of the other Brothers and the pupils.”
More information on the Little Chapel can be found in the Guernsey Archive Centre. Insights into Brother Déodat’s life are housed by the Brothers at Blanchelande College. The TLC Foundation restoration projects continue, and those wishing to help reach the £500,000 goal to preserve Brother Déodat’s creation can do so here.
Left: The view down the Ozanne Steps along the hilly cliff path between Fermain Bay and St. Peter’s Port. 88 steps and six landings zig zag down the jutting rock peninsula to reach the jagged rock plateau. Center: From this perspective, visitors can just make out the grass coated landings within the Ozanne Steps. Right: A steep, stone staircase north of Fermain Bay directs travelers back towards the main road, left, or to the hilly cliff path to St. Peter’s Port. Wanderlost Magazine | Nicole Morales
Story by: Nicole Morales
Along Guernsey’s eastern coast, nestled between the Fermain Bay and the Bluebell Woods, is a hidden staircase. Six flights of grass-filled steps, 88 total, crisscross downwards to a jagged rock platform.
The Ozanne Steps is a favorite tourist attraction on the island, but not much is known about its origin. Local legend held that the brick and stone staircase was commissioned by a former Lieutenant Governor, so that he and his wife could sunbathe on the natural landing in private.
Sue Laker, Chief Librarian of Priaulx Library, rejected this lore, and ordered her researchers to uncover the true origins to the staircase last summer. “The Bailiwick of Guernsey” offered key evidence that instead, links the dramatic staircase to the nearby De Putron estate.
“Richard Mansell Ozanne was employed by Her Majesty’s Ordinance Department in Guernsey,” Laker said. “In his later years, [he] owned the De Putron Estate, upon which the steps are situated. He therefore, would have been well placed, to order such a flight of steps to be built.”
Tourists drawn to the breathtaking descent will find a dark stone landing at its base, covered with yellow-green algae and riddled with water-cut striations and indentations. On a stormy day, the blue-green coastline of the English Channel sprays foam and seawater to the top of the natural breakwater.
Those eager to take in the view for themselves can find this hidden gem via two steep paths that wind along the eastern coastline.
The northbound cliff path begins as a series of winding stone staircases that offers views of Fermain Bay and Fermaine Tower No. 15. From this vantage point, one can glimpse the ivy-lined Ozanne Steps and the rock platform in its entirety, with St. Peter Port and Castle Cornet off in the distance.
The southbound, tree-lined path passes by Guernsey’s Military Cemetery, adjacent to the Bluebell Woods. The one-and-a-half-mile dirt path offers clear views of the Ozanne Steps, and the smaller Channel Islands of Herm and Sark.
Visitors on both paths are directed with stone markers and can stop for rest on emerald wooden benches along the way. A map with more information about the walking paths can be found here.