Although our parish church is medieval, the site may well have had religious associations a lot earlier. William the Conqueror granted the church to the Abbey of St. Martin de Marmoutier in the 1050s. Taken over by the Crown in the later middle ages, it remains in the Crown's gift. The earliest parts of the building date from the 12th century, although some stone may have been re-used from an earlier building. Additions to the tower and north aisle were made in the latter part of the 15th century. Internally all medieval arrangements have disappeared, following Guernsey's Calvanist period from the 1560s to the 1660s and Victorian restoration. The present arrangement and furnishings, a result of generous donations over the past 100 years, offer a church of great charm and a welcoming and peaceful ambience.
Daniel Francis Durand (1745-1832)
Under Master of Elizabeth College 1765—1772 & 1780—1794.
Rector of St. Andrews1780—1794.
Dean of Guernsey/Rector of St. Peter Port 1794/5—1832
Daniel was born in Norwich and educated in Canterbury before being admitted Sizar at St. John’s College, Cambridge aged seventeen, where he gained his B.A. and M.A.. Later, he was ordained and appointed curate of his father’s parish of St. Sampson and the Vale, in Guernsey. Shortly afterwards he purchased a chaplaincy in the 96th Regiment, which was then garrisoned in Guernsey, but went on half pay when it left the Island. After six years in Guernsey, he returned to England and accepted the role of tutor to a young nobleman with whom he took the Grand Tour (of Europe). His account books of their travelling expenses are included in the extensive Durand Collection. (Currently held by the States of Guernsey Archive Dept.)
Whilst on tour he visited the family seat at Fontcouverte outside Montpellier from which his great grandfather Francois Guillaume Durand, a Huguenot priest, had been evicted after the repeal of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV. Daniel was offered the estate and titles that went with it after the two resident Durand ladies had died. This offer was made subject to him reverting to the Church of Rome. He declined the offer and returned to Guernsey in 1779 to become Rector of St. Andrews.
Seven years later he married Anne de Jersey, daughter of Richard de Jersey and Ann (née Sauvaire) of St. Helène Manor, just up the road from the Rectory. He was Under Master at the Elizabeth College from 1780 until 1795.
When the Dean died in 1794, Daniel boarded the first packet bound for England, hired a horse and presented himself to the Bishop of Winchester, who was responsible for appointing the Dean. The Bishop was obviously impressed and the following year Daniel was appointed to the most senior ecclesiastical position in the Island. He remained Dean and Rector of the Town Church for thirty seven years until his death in 1832, aged eighty seven.
There are a number of memorials to Daniel Durand throughout the Island. His name is engraved on a bell in the tower of St. Saviours Church and it appears again over the entrance on the north side of the recently renovated Market Building, alongside a number of other dignitaries. There is also a superb memorial to him and his wife on the south wall of the Town Church, showing the Durand de Fontcouverte and the de Jersey coats of arms, together with him and his wife in relief silhouette.