Originally dedicated to Saint Mary, the first church at Notre Dame was opened for worship on the 13th September 1829. It was the only Catholic Church on the island until 1851, when the opening of St. Joseph’s Church caused it to close. In 1860, priests from Rennes obtained the permission to re-open the church, as a dependency of St. Joseph’s, under the patronage of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1868, it regained complete independence.
The French Church of Notre-Dame du Rosaire in the island of Guernsey was put into the charge of Pere Lecluze on the 7th of August, 1960, by Mgr. Guyot, Bishop of Coutances. The Channel Islands, although at one time attached to Coutances, are now part of the Diocese of Portsmouth, thus this occurred with the kind authorisation of the Bishop of Portsmouth. It is a reminder of the past that a Priest from Coutances has received the care of this Parish.
Upon his arrival, the Church of the Rosary, 130 years old, was in a lamentable state, so Pere Lecluze made an appeal to one of his friends, Mr. A. Seguin, a young architect. Their first idea was restoration, but there wasn’t a halfpenny in the coffers! It was then decided to preserve only two walls, one of which was also the wall of the Presbytery.
Mr. Seguin then produced some plans, which are also the fruit of his prayer and of his love. To reconstruct a church, when one has such a limited space, and with only two walls, imposed at acute angles, is not easy! Mr. Seguin, who holds a Government diploma, overcame the difficulties admirably.
Situated in “Burnt Lane”, in one of the older quarters of St. Peter Port, it is difficult to reach. Stone steps at each end of the lane safeguard it from any vehicle, and ensure peace and quiet; but these same steps were the cause of great difficulty during the course of the Church’s construction. It took 94 hours to bring the new altar, weighing one and a half ton, up to its place! However there is a car park situated higher on the hill , which allows some degree of vehicular access.
The Church restoration, begun in October 1961 and was completed in December 1962.