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Coutances Cathedral, photographed by Jersey photographer Philip Godfray in the 1880s

Coutances is a town on the west coast of Normandy's Cotentin Peninsula the spires of whose cathedral can be seen from the coast of Jersey. This is highly appropriate because in early Norman times Jersey's churches came under the authority of the Bishop of Coutances, and this arrangement continued even after Jersey was politically separated from Normandy in 1204. It was not until 1569 that the administration of the Church in Jersey was transferred to the see of Winchester in the South of England.


Capital of the Unelli, a Gaulish tribe, the town took the name of Constantia in 298 during the reign of Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus. The surrounding region, called in Latin the pagus Constantinus subsequently became known as the Cotentin peninsula.

The town was destroyed by invading Normans in 866, who later established settlements and incorporated the whole peninsular into the Duchy of Normandy in 933.

Coutances Cathedral, visible from Jersey on a clear day

Coutances Cathedral is one of the major buildings of Norman architecture and contains a chapel and stained glass dedicated to Saint Marcouf. Coutances houses a botanical garden and an art museum.

Twin towns

Coutances is twinned with

  • Ilkley in England
  • Saint Ouen, Jersey
  • La Pocatière, Quebec
  • Ochsenfurt in Germany
  • Troina in Sicily
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