Marianne Carey, Foundress
From the Memoirs of Marianne Miller nee Carey (born 22 July 1826 – died 27 November 1912)
The start of the story …….
Image courtesy Priaulx Library
La Rocque de Guet 1839
It was my father’s custom to take us almost every year to Guernsey, there to spend the months of July and August. My earliest recollections are associated with Havilland Hall which was the house to which we went until it was used as Government House. My birthday occurring in July was therefore generally spent in Guernsey and the usual treat when I was a child was to go to Cobo and have tea on the rocky beach. On my 13th birthday, we made the customary expedition and the distance from the hall being greater than from “the cottage” from which my cousins had walked and also my not being quite so strong as the others I was very tired and went to lie down on the Rocque de Guet overlooking the Bay of Cobo. While resting there my eyes wandered over the portion of the country around and I saw that there were many cottages inhabited by the fisher folk but could see no church or school. I knew that the nearest would be fully two and a half miles distant and began to wonder whether they ever went to Church. My meditations were however very soon interrupted by cheery voices calling me down from my perch and have tea which was certainly very refreshing.
On the Sunday following our return to our beautiful English home on the Isle of Wight. I took my Christian Year into the wood behind my lovely Church to learn, as was my wont, the hymn for that day and looking at the Church and our own house nestled so closely together made me think very sorrowfully of that lonely village on the seashore so far removed from any House of God and the longing to give them one arose very strongly in my heart.
On going into the house I sought my father and took up my favourite position on his knee, where-upon he asked – “What do you want to coax out of me now?” “O Daddy, I want to build a church and I want you to tell me how to do it” – “Build a Church!” he answered in some amazement, “and pray where is this church to be, it sounds rather a big order?” – “Oh, you are not to laugh at me, for I so want to build one at Cobo – you know how far it is from St. Mary’s and I don’t believe those fisher folk ever go at all.” “Yes my darling, I do see that they sadly want a church and I can understand how much you would like to enable them to have one – But – now child, don’t be impatient – and listen quietly to all your old father is going to say to you.”
“I am not going to dash your hopes nor throw cold water on the scheme – It may be that some future day that God will permit you to have the privilege for which you long, but now, and for some years to come, I am sure it is not your work. You have distinct duties marked out for you. You have your lessons to do and must give your mind to them – you have a class in the Sunday School – you have several old women to go and read to – you have to help your mother in the house and your sisters in the village. These are the duties that God has given you to do & you must be content with them for some time to come – but the day may come when you will have free time & we will talk of it again.”
Years went by – each one bringing a reminder of Cobo’s needs, but each day, nay each hour had it’s appointed task. It is true the more rigid hours of the schoolroom were relaxed, but with an hour daily at the National School before matins and half an hour after that in a smaller school, then returning for an hours reading before luncheon – When alone, that consisted of history with my sister Caroline and one of the Cottage Carey cousins – When my brothers or cousins were at home it varied, Italian with Frank French with Connie. In the afternoon two days at the school for work and other days district visiting on a walk with my father whom we never allowed to go alone – so had the pleasant duty by turns – or I had to accompany mother to make calls or for shopping.
If the boys were at home, I was ever at their beck and call, either for music or a long walk – in the evening we had out our frames to work for about an hour – having much to do for our newly built church of St. Peter – Frontals, mats, etc. and also garments for our district during this hour – Either mother or one other read aloud and music was expected for the last hour – so where was the leisure time for which I had waited and hoped – It seemed well nigh useless to think of it –
Again on my birthday I found myself on my favourite Rocque du Guet – and this time with a book given me that morning by my mother entitled – “She hath done what she could” – The very name of the book started me thinking and looking round on the Church-less hamlet I said to myself “Have I done all I could?” and the answer was one of doubt for what could I have done?
Neverless it seemed to stir me up to a determination to delay no longer and ways and means crowded in my brain but alas with small result – Next day full of the desire to start work I went into the Town and bought a sheet containing ten pictures which are found in the “divine Master” – This sheet cost me one franc – and it occurred to me that if framed these pictures might sell, so on our return to England I got some glasses cut to the required size and bought some brown American cloth and managed to make a very tidy little frame to be hung up by a ring of which I chartered a good supply – But once more my work was arrested – there were too many home duties to be performed to leave time for any extras – The following Spring, however, I hoped to have made a lasting start, having argued with my sister Caroline to send off the ten framed pictures to a friend who was away from home at the time and charge 5/- but urging her to bring them back unless she quite liked having them. Great was our delight when the reply brought a cheque for £2-2-0 a real nest egg.