Jersey

Battle of Jersey Major Peirson statue discussed

An artist's impression of one of the options being discussed
Image caption Mr Clifford said funding would need to be found before any of the three options was pursued

The man that led the British to victory over the French in the Battle of Jersey could be recognised by a statue in the island's Royal Square.

Major Francis Peirson was killed on 6 January 1781 leading the garrison and militia troops against the invaders.

The Parish of St Helier hopes to erect a monument to him in the Royal Square, where the battle took place.

Public art consultant Christopher Clifford said three options were currently being discussed.

He said: "The desire to have a statue to Major Peirson has been around for 200 years.

"There was a move a couple of years ago by the Parish of St Helier to launch the Major Peirson sculpture appeal.

"We're now in a position to start looking at which options we go forward with it."

Mr Clifford said it was too early to tell but he thought this time a memorial would be built.

Of the three options, he said: "One is very formal and I would say quite traditional approach, a slightly large than life sculpture that would be cast in bronze and mounted on a granite plinth and it depicts Major Peirson charging into battle.

"We have a very contemporary interpretation of Major Peirson as well, which one could describe as an overly large death mask cast in bronze and set into the floor of the Royal Square.

"We've also got a triumphal archway designed in wrought iron which would be set into the walls in Peirson Place... this archway contains the military insignia of the various Jersey militias that were involved in the Battle of Jersey and they all kind of point down to the crest that holds the portrait of Major Peirson."

Mr Clifford said: "To make any of these pieces could take anything between six months and a year, the funding needs to be secured before that happens."

The French had declared war on the British in 1778 after allying with the American colonists fighting for independence from the British Crown.

Jersey and the other Channel Islands were used as harbours for British privateers, private captains given licence by the government to attack and capture enemy ships - a form of licensed piracy.

Due to this the French wanted to take over the island and had previously unsuccessfully tried to land in 1779.

The invasion was the last time the French attacked the island but led to further defences, such as Fort Regent, being built.

Frank Falle, a local historian, said the battle had been a "vital" moment in the island's history.

He said the French had developed about 40 different plans for the invasion of Jersey.

Mr Falle said the French had seen the island as "thorn in their side" since its neutrality had been agreed in the 15th Century - something that led to "privateers during war and smugglers during peace".

He said with the British "deep in the war against the colonists" if the French invasion had been successful and they had called in reinforcements then the island "might well not have been British today".

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