The parish of Saint Ouen is the largest in Jersey, covering a total of 8,525 vergées (15 km2) of land. It forms the north-western corner of the island, bordering Saint Peter to the east and Saint Mary to the south.
It has extensive regions of coastline, much of which incorporate the peninsula of Grosnez. The coast here is as wild and remote as you will find in Jersey, with a number of hidden bays and wind-blown headlands. The parish also contains a significant portion of St. Ouen’s Bay – the largest bay on the island and one that is a popular destination.
Saint Ouen is another of Jersey’s parishes that has relatively little development, with much of its area being used for agricultural purposes or left as open countryside. The main settlement in the parish is St. Ouen’s Village, located in the eastern fringes. This small collection of close-knit buildings has everything required for daily life, with a parish hall, a community centre, a neat village green and a selection of shops. It therefore caters well to visitors and there are a number of things to do in and around its boundaries.
The Village Hub
Unlike most of Jersey’s main parish villages, St. Ouen’s village is unusual in that the parish church is not situated within it. Instead, the church is a short distance to the south, beyond the local football club. Despite this, the parish hall can be found at the centre of the village and is an impressive building to view in its own right, recognisable by its large clock tower.
It’s a masterpiece of granite and redbrick architecture, and there are colourful flower beds near the entrance. Here, there is also a large war memorial that sits centrally to the building. The parish hall is the location of various events throughout the year, and you might be lucky enough to take part in one if you happen to visit on the right day.
During my visit I stopped by the parish hall on the last Friday of the month, when St. Ouen’s Country Market takes place. Normally open from 09:30 in the morning, this cosy event is a great place where I usually find fresh local vegetables, home-made cakes and craft items, as well as a range of other interesting goods. Light refreshments and lunches are often served, and it is an excellent way to meet the locals and experience the friendly atmosphere of the village community. The event is organised and run by St. George’s Church Club, with all proceeds going to the maintenance of the club’s church building.
After enjoying the country market, why not stroll through the nearby village green if the weather is nice, taking in the large fountain near the entrance. Alternatively, you can make you way in the opposite direction, towards the local pub. The Farmers Inn is a rustic building where you can expect to find a selection of ales and locally-brewed cider, as well as good food. There is a log fire to keep you toasty on chilly days, and it’s one of the best places in St. Ouen’s village to hear the local Jerriais dialect.
A Fairytale Visit
One of the most intriguing destinations in the village can be found on the northern edge, just as the buildings give way to open farmland. This is the location of Judith Querée’s Garden – an award-winning garden that is full of rare and interesting plants. It is situated within a relatively small area, at just over an acre, however there is a lot packed in, with more than 2,000 plants in total. There is a bog-garden full of irises and primulas, accessible via a wooden walkway, as well as drier regions where plants such as geraniums thrive. The garden is well laid out and there a number of tasteful sculptures, as well as a small chocolate box house, giving the whole area a unique, fairy-tale aura.
It’s a charming place to go and there are even a few animals to see, with chickens and geese roaming areas of the garden, and butterflies and bees making the most of the flowers. A small carpark is available and the garden is open from Tuesday to Friday, generally from May until October.
The community feel of St. Ouen’s is one of its very best qualities and makes it a lovely place to go. With a number of activities available and its close proximity to some excellent coastal regions, it makes for a great destination.
Learn also about the south-east area of the island. Read more in the following article: Samares – Where Jersey Meets The Ocean