A history of our church

Since the reformation in the middle of the 16th Century, there had always been a Presbyterian presence in Guernsey; indeed for most of the 17th Century it was the dominant form of Christian worship in the Island. This was Calvinist with strict discipline, imported from the Huguenot movement in France. Over the century that followed, as religious toleration was slowly becoming the norm, the dominance of this discipline gradually declined, and a diversity of different denominations sprang up. But there was always at least one congregation which adhered to the Presbyterian tradition.

In 1789 the French Revolution resulted in a marked change in the respective political influences on Guernsey. France and Britain were at war and as seafaring improved (we call this technology today), the Channel Islands had become of strategic value to England. They were heavily fortified and garrisoned, right through until well into the second half of the nineteenth century. And, wherever the British army was stationed, you would always find Scottish regiments - the "Jocks".

It was largely to cater for these Scottish regiments that, under the missionary zeal and leadership of William Turnbull, a Scot himself who had served in the East India Company, a church of the Scottish Presbyterian discipline was grafted onto the existing congregation. This revitalised church, combining the old Guernsey tradition with that of the Free Church of Scotland, first met in a hired hall, which was not entirely suitable.

But as it became clear that another building would become necessary, a massive effort was put into finding a site, and then the funds, for a brand new purpose-built church building, overlooking the centre of St. Peter Port. The site was bought in 1893, and in 1897 the dream, the church you can see today, was realised.

Although the initial support had come from the Free Church of Scotland, it had become clear that the Presbyterian Church of England, with its base in London, would be a far more logical sponsor, and with blessing and goodwill on all sides this was agreed in 1855. This continued for 118 years, until the "Mother Church" itself was amalgamated into the United Reformed Church in 1972. At that time the Guernsey congregation opted to transfer into the care of the Church of Scotland, which is where it finds itself today.

But inside the church you can still see history writ large: in 1888 the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders presented to the Church a splendid organ which was carefully dismantled and re-established in the new church. The frontage and pipes of that organ remain in the church today, concealing the rather less attractive works of the modern electronic church organ which replaced the original after well over one hundred years' service! On 14th August 2007 work commenced on the conversion of the Church hall from a single to a two storey building. The work was completed in December of that year and the hall was re-dedicated on 20th January 2008.