Posted by: nancycurteman | June 15, 2012

The Isle of Jersey’s Famous Lily

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The Isle of Jersey, a British Crown Dependency owned by Great Britain, is the largest of the Channel Islands. One of Jersey’s claims to fame is the sweet-faced Jersey cow. That’s not Jersey’s only claim to fame. It’s an island of beautiful beaches like those on Plemont Bay, and great hiking trails.

Jersey is a treasure trawl for history buffs. Mont Orgueil Castle, built in the thirteenth century, is full of hidden rooms and mysterious stairways.  The Elizabeth Castle, built in the 1600’s to protect island inhabitants from invaders, can be reached on foot only during low tide.  The Jersey War Tunnels and the German Underground Hospital were constructed by the Germans during World War II as part of their plan to create “impregnable fortresses.”

Flower lovers will marvel at Jersey’s lovely gardens. At Lavender Farm see beautiful fragrant lavender fields. Discover how the lavender oil is extracted and the essential oils distilled from the flowers.

To me, one of Jersey’s most interesting claims to fame is Lillie Langtry, nicknamed the Jersey Lily after the flower symbol of the Isle of Jersey. Born October 13, 1853, Lillie grew to be one of her islands most famous characters. George Bernard Shaw said of her, ‘I resent Mrs Langtry, she has no right to be intelligent, daring and independent, as well as lovely’.

A woman of extraordinary beauty, she became the Official mistress of Albert Edward the Prince of Wales. You can see Langtry Manor, the elegant home the Prince built for her in Bournemouth, England.

Lillie became a world famous actress. She even played to full houses in the United States. One of her more colorful admirers, Judge Roy Bean of Texas, fell in love with her picture. He changed the name of his town to Langtry and his bar became ‘The Jersey Lilly Saloon’. Lillie continued to work in theater into her seventies.

The Jersey Lily died in 1929 and was buried in St. Saviour’s churchyard in Jersey.

You can visit the marble-sculpted tomb memorial of Lillie Langtry in the St. Saviour cemetary. The sculpture depicts Lillie as the fin-de-siecle society beauty holding a lily.

In the Jersey Museum at St. Helier you can see the Langtry exhibit of many of the Jersey Lily’s personal effects including Millais’ famous portrait of her and Judge Roy Bean’s gun that was bequeathed to her after his death.

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