SH Ashore 2
Skipper and First Mate Millard (Big Bear and Pepe)
Wed 12 Feb 2020 23:57
St Helena Ashore for the Second Time – Wednesday
Smiling diesel delivery men appeared at eight thirty.
Bear swung into action.
After the diesel had been sorted, Bear set about the pesky alternator problem. I busied myself assembling Bear’s muesli fruit for the longest journey we have undertaken (three thousand, nine hundred miles, from St Helena to Jolly Harbour, Antigua) – this time only tined fruit as fresh is in thin supply in the supermarkets. Then the job my teeth do backstroke just thinking about, wrist deep in sticky, dried fruit, chopped and mixed with his packets of muesli. The last time I’ll do this before we ‘Close the Circle’ on this epic trip of ours.
Looking at this peaceful scene you would not believe we can roll like snot. Quite unpleasant in fact.....
Ashore, instead of cutting through The Garden, we bimbled a little further so we could take in the town’s Main Gate.
On the other side of the gate we saw the date of 1832 along with a mark noting the level of the flood of the 14th of April 1878. The biggest flood occurred five years before. On the 20th of February 1873 at eight o’clock in the morning a cloudburst over Sandy Bay Ridge led to consequent floods at Sandy Bay, Friar’s Valley and Jamestown. It was a terrifying experience for the residents on both sides of the island, with the force hitting Jamestown, Sandy Bay and Friar’s Valley in the early morning. In Sandy Bay two children lost their lives and there was much damage to about 160 metres of walls and cultivated ground. There
The valley sides are an average of 533 metres in height and although Jamestown looks flat there is a drop of a hundred metres to sea level. The water flowed from the ridges down the two main valleys, joining together above Bishop’s Bridge. There was damage to the footbridge above Maldavia Gardens where the old road led up this side of the valley before crossing and winding up Side Path and the Briars. The piped water supply to town from Chubbs Spring was damaged and the narrowing of watercourse above New Bridge further concentrated the force of the water and the debris. New Bridge was washed away by the floodwaters.
Next water came flooding down Market Street and the Back Way, bursting through any buildings in its way. Some water ran down towards Main Street, the remainder down Narrowbacks. Nearly all the houses on the left of the street were flooded and water hit them from both sides until dissipating below what is now the DIY Store – this was Jackson’s Dispensary. This property was hit from both sides.
A woman was washed out to sea but it thought that her “voluminous skirts” saved her. Three donkeys were also washed out to sea and they too were rescued. Unbelievable as we stand and look at Main Street today.
Beyond the gate, to the left, The Castle with the cutest canon.
The old stone has a newer one below that is easier to read.
The plaque reads: In commemoration of the three-hundredth anniversary of Captain John Dutton’s landing on the 5th May 1659 from which time St. Helena has been a British possession. 1659 - 1959. The castle courtyard.
We crossed over and passed the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder and in the far corner a tiny prison.
St James’ Church dominates this end of town. History of St James taken from the church pamphlet: It is believed that since the arrival of the first sailors during the 1500’s, there has been a chapel or church on or near this site in James’ Valley; indeed, the valley was first called “Chapel Valley”. In his report of the island, written in 1588 Cavendish wrote ....we found a marvellous fair and pleasant valley, wherein lay divers handsome buildings and houses were set up, and especially one which was a church, which was tiled and whitened on the outside very fair, and made with a porch..... His account gives more details and gives the date to the cross erected outside the church, that of 1571.
The first Anglican church in Jamestown was built following the arrival of the East India Company in 1659 and their first chaplain in 1671. It is thought not to have been a very solidly built church as by 1678 it was in need of repair. Many petitions were made to the Governor in Council before any action was taken and it was 1772 before preparations were made to build a new church. The church built in 1774 still stands although it has been altered during its life. You will see inside, marks on the walls, suggesting the roof height has been raised and that there was also a gallery in the church at some time.
The North tower originally stood at the West end of the church but it was found to be in a dangerous condition in the 1830’s. A bulge appeared in one wall and the tower was demolished in 1835. A new tower and porch was built by the North door and a spire added in 1843. The total cost of this work was one thousand, three hundred pounds..... In 1843 the tower had to be dismantled as it was unsafe, a new tower was built by the north door with a spire. In 1849 St James was handed from the East India Company to the church to maintain. In 1859 the diocese of St Helena was created and the first Bishop of St Helena arrived. The spire became unsafe and was taken down in 1980. The spire was constructed from porous red stone mined in James’ Valley and held together with iron ties. The ties rusted and in 1980 the spire had become dangerous and was taken down. A memorial to the workforce is on the west wall of the porch. In the 1900’s the roof was replaced twice – once in 1902 when the slates were replaced by corrugated iron at a cost of four hundred pounds. An asbestos roof followed this and now there is an iron roof installed by Mr Barry Henry and his team in the early 1900’s.
The church is large – it served the garrison of the town and several pews are marked “military”. The tower was originally at the West End and there was no north porch. . Thirty years later restoration work began and the spire was replaced in 2016. Restored a few years ago the clock is wound every week.
In the porch was a picture of the church taken in the 1860’s.
Plaques in the porch.
Inside the large church – the oldest Anglican church south of the Equator. The central stained glass window depicts The Good Shepherd which was installed in 1874. Each side are two painted glass windows of St James and St John. The teak altar rail was presented in memory of Thomas Ford Thompson, a long-serving parish clerk and schoolmaster. In the 1800’s St James’ Church suffered the attentions of the white ants. In 1862 it had to be closed to public worship. You will notice that all the furniture is made from hardwoods like iroko and teak.
To the left on the wall are some interesting marbles and brasses, the stories of soldiers and East India Company employees is told in these memorials. They tell of deaths as travellers to England from India stopped to recover from what proved to be fatal illnesses. A local memorial reads: In Memory of George Singer who met his death by being accidentally precipitated from Egg Island, when faithfully serving his employees. By whom this tablet is erected as a mark of respect to a worthy good servant. To the right stands the organ.
Entry number nine belongs to Napoleon Bonaparte in the Register of Burials.
Settle in Anne’s Place, this time joined by Wendy and Jim (Jaga II) we loved a recipe tea towel hung on the wall.
On the ferry back this afternoon it is hard to picture water coursing down to the sea in 1878.
ALL IN ALL THE ISLAND HISTORY IS FASCINATING
VERY PICTURESQUE OLDE WORLD TOWN