By Cathy Le Feuvre
If you’ve been following local news recently, you’ll be aware that there are plans to redevelop Fort Regent. Right now, the Government of Jersey is asking us all to get involved in the consultation about what the future of the Fort might look like. If you want to have a say, there’s an online survey which you might like to investigate – Fort Regent: Future Fort (gov.je)
With that proposed new development at the Fort on the horizon, a group of Islanders think now is the perfect time for Jersey’s government to retrieve an ancient dolmen that once stood on the site, but which for hundreds of years has been sitting in the English countryside.
One of the campaigners, Sara Wagstaffe, has set up an online petition to ask our States to approach the UK government and the current owner of the property to return the ancient monument to its rightful home.
Standing above what is now Jersey’s main harbour, Le Mont de la Ville has been a significant site for the defence of the Island for many centuries. After the Battle of Jersey in 1781 it was decided to build a military fort on the hill.
In August 1785, as work began to create a parade ground for the military garrison, a series of standing stones was discovered, which turned out to be a megalithic dolmen. This unique structure comprised of a covered passage leading into a circular un-roofed chamber. Around the chamber were a number of ‘cists’ or small stone-built coffin-like boxes or ossuaries, each with a capstone. Although no prehistoric finds were recovered from the site at the time of the excavation it was a significant discovery.
However, within a few years the monument had been removed and shipped to the UK. The stones and their history were not investigated thoroughly but rather given as a gift to the retiring Governor of Jersey, Henry Seymour Conway, who had the dolmen placed in the grounds of his home in the town of Wargrave in Berkshire, near Henley-on-Thames – where the stones stand to this day. It’s understood the property – known as Templecombe House – is now owned by the actor and TV presenter James Corden (Mr Corden, can we have our dolmen back, please? | Jersey Evening Post)
Sara Wagstaffe believes that now is the time for the ancient dolmen to be returned to Jersey and reinstated at Le Mont de La Ville and she’s asking interested islanders to sign a petition to that effect.
Sara believes the dolmen not only belongs in Jersey but will be an important addition to what might be on offer at the Fort in the future. The petition page on the Government of Jersey website states that ‘The Political Oversight Group of Fort Regent has pre-feasibility funding for ‘Botanical Gardens and Heritage’, which this would fall under, adding further tourist attraction and economic benefits to the proposed plans.’
If you want to find out more about the petition, click on this link – Bring home Le Mont de la Ville Dolmen. – Petitions (gov.je)
There’s also a facebook page – http://m.facebook.com/TheMissingJerseyDolmen/ and there’s more about the dolmen and its history on the Prehistoric Jersey website – Le Mont de la Ville (prehistoricjersey.net)