Selfies and school
In June a group of 87 Haute Valle students and teachers crossed the causeway to Elizabeth Castle for a team-building day. We had worked with Assistant Headteacher Maxine Griffiths to discuss and structure engaging project ideas for the students.
Many of the children live and go to school in St Helier but had never visited Elizabeth Castle. Some wanted to find out more about the Castle’s history while others were keen to get some good photos for their Instagram accounts.
Students took part in a number of activities and continued to work on their projects at school in the following week. A smaller group then returned to the Castle creating a pop up exhibition of their work, in the Governor’s House. They also took over the Jersey Heritage Twitter feed and posted pictures of their day.
Project Co-coordinator Lucy Layton explains; ‘Through the Jersey Heritage 2016 Outreach programme we are aiming to engage with all areas of the community, making the Island's heritage accessible and relevant for everyone. This particular project enabled us to introduce a large group of teenagers to the story of Saint Helier and the historic castle that protects their parish. It’s really rewarding to see the students discover Elizabeth Castle for themselves and their pop-up exhibition was enjoyed by both family and visitors. The outreach project has produced some very positive outcomes for both Jersey Heritage and the students. Their day at the Castle was great for student morale and we enjoyed seeing young people explore and engage with this beautiful site.’
Lucy says ‘ Another rewarding part of this project was seeing the students pick up membership packs as they waited for the ferry back .They were chatting to each other about returning over summer - particularly for more selfies and cakes in the café!
Triggers of the past
It doesn’t’t matter how old we are, throughout our lives we recall thousands of memories of our past. Often it is an old photograph that triggers these memories, reminding us of how Jersey has changed. At Jersey Heritage we are committed to telling our Island’s stories. Many of these are curated from the conversations we have with residents of all ages. . One community project very close to our hearts is the Reminiscence sessions that our Archive team offers to local residential homes. Whether a film is shown from the Archive resources, or we show objects and photographs, such as old kitchen items or toys, the idea is to trigger memories and encourage residents to unlock and share their memories and past stories in a relaxed, informal way.
Marion Falle, St Helier House Residential Home Activities Co-ordinator explains, ‘Residents really look forward to these visits and we often have up to 30 people taking part in each session. Sharing memories of past events, such as their wedding day or childhood stories provides not only topics of conversation, but also generates such a happy, positive feeling amongst the group. These sessions encourage residents to join in activities together and are important for boosting morale, helping communication and, crucially, having fun with friends and being themselves.’
For those living in residential homes these priceless sessions help to maintain a link to who they are and where they came from. This continues to be an important part of the outreach service that we offer; both for the people taking part and for the Archive team who are privileged to hear the incredible stories these lovely people have to tell.
Bringing the past back to life
Have you have ever waded out to one of the Island’s stunning coastal fortifications and wondered what’s inside? In partnership with the States of Jersey and Visit Jersey, we run the Forts and Towers Scheme that enables you to find out. Simply, a percentage of your membership fee is used to bring many of Jersey’s beautiful ruins back to life for all of us to enjoy. We have restored 13 previously inaccessible properties. They are now open to the public as a free to access site or to hire as a Heritage Let. We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of our members or the expert work of Dave O’Brien and his team at the Department for Infrastructure. This skilled team of stonemasons works on the Island's ancient monuments. Over the past year they have worked tirelessly on a project to bring La Rocco Tower back to life, converting it into a Heritage Let. Built in 1796 the tower is an iconic Jersey landmark that has not had any love or attention since the 1970’s.
Renovating the Tower brought about many challenges, including the logistics of getting the team and their tools to the site every day. Its unique position means it can only be accessed at low tide on foot. Over 25 tonnes of materials, including scaffolding and machinery, had to be taken to the Tower and often the only way to transport it was manually.
Once on site, the challenges didn't stop. In order to restore and rebuild the chimney flue, the team had to first clear it of debris and concrete which had been used to block it up in the 1970’s . After clearing, each stone was painstakingly replaced, like for like, creating a cosy working fire for visitors to enjoy.
Each bespoke part of this restoration project has seen samples taken from the tower including mortar, stone and wood so that each could be replicated using the same techniques that would have originally been used when it was built over two centuries ago.
Dave O’Brien explains: “What Jersey Heritage is doing with this scheme is amazing. They’re not only preserving these special buildings but also the ethos of conservation work in Jersey. If these sites are neglected, then so are their stories which will be lost for future generations. We are privileged to work on these buildings so they can be enjoyed and appreciated by the public for years to come and celebrate the fact that the skills of our intricate trade are also being kept alive.”