This is a copy of part of the notes used by Dr Arthur Mourant for his talk to the congregation of Eden for the centenary celebrations of Eden in 1933.
‘In 1787 John Wesley visited Jersey and on Tuesday, 21st August he came to this part of the island. In his journal he states,
“We took a walk to one of our friends in the country. Near his house stood what they call The College. It is a Free School, designed to train up children for University; exceedingly finely situated, in a quiet recess, surrounded by tall woods. Not far from it stands, on the top of a high hill (I suppose a Roman Mount) an old chapel, believed to be the first Christian Church to be built in the island. From hence we had a view over the whole island, the pleasantest I ever saw; as far superior to the Isle of Wight as that is to the Isle of Man. The little hills, almost covered with large trees, are inexpressibly beautiful. It seems they are to be equaled in the Isle of Guernsey”. (excerpt from John Westley’s journal, with apologies to our Manx and Isle of Wight friends)
It is practically certain that the College was St Mannelier and the hill surmounted by a chapel, La Hougue Bie. We must remember that the Tower (long since gone) was not added till about 1790 so that Wesley saw the mound much as it is now ( i.e. in 1933 the trees had not fully grown yet).
The editor of the Journal seems inclined to identify the mound as La Hougue Boëte, but this is impossible both from the description and from the times given in Wesley’s private diary, as follows:
11-45 a.m. walk; I at brother W’s dinner, conversed, prayer; 2-30 walk; 4, prayed”
Since the note “prayed” evidently referred to his lodgings in St Helier, he could not possibly have walked to St John and back.
I have gone into these details because, if my view is right, and I see no other possibility, Wesley walked along the road which runs past this chapel (sic Eden) at about 20 minutes to 3 on the day in question. This is almost the only way and by far the most likely one for him to have taken.
The identity of “Brother W” with whom Wesley had a meal is another puzzle. I am strongly inclined to the view that it should be “Brother V V” for the Vivian family owned both the houses near St Mannelier and were early pillars of the cause of Eden.
In a later note dated 1974 made by Miss Lesley Mourant, Dr Mourant’s sister:
It has since been established that “Friend W” was almost certainly Friend VV (ViVian), as descendants of the Vivian family confirm that John Wesley was indeed entertained by Mr. Philip Vivian at his home, “Mon Plaisir” near St Mannelier. Wesley spent the night there and the next morning preached in the yard.
Then his friends accompanied him to Gorey, where he preached. On the way the passed the field where Eden was later to be built.
(Leslie Mourant 1974)
Karen White’s Note
Dr Arthur Mourant was an eminent research doctor who worked in London and contributed to developing our knowledge of blood groups and most especially the rhesus gene. Locally he was highly respected for his archaeological work for the Société Jersiaise and it was he who identified the opening to the passage grave at La Hougue Bie. He oversaw the excavation in 1921. I therefore believe we should be able to have every confidence in his research into the History of Eden.
The reference to “4 prayers” in John Wesley’s journal would actually tie in very well with passing Eden (say) at 2-40 p.m. climbing La Hougue Bie, admiring the view, walking back to Mon Plaisir, taking a refreshment and adjourning to his room for prayer. It would then be quite reasonable to have walked that way again when travelling to Gorey the next day.