An introduction to old Jersey homes

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Hamptonne, an old St Lawrence property which has been fully restored in recent years

Jersey has a large number of fine old houses, many of them of the same basic traditional design. Built of granite, with two large rooms downstairs a scullery at the back, two large bedrooms on the first floor with a bathroom in the centre at the front, and probably further rooms in the attic space.

Of course, most of these houses have been altered and extended over the years, particularly internally, where large rooms have given way to a combination of smaller living areas, but the same basic design is usually evident. Some houses were built much larger, or have been extended in the original style, and the grandest often have an east and west wing added to the original central section.

Extensions and restoration

The additions are almost invariably to the east and west, because regardless of the location, and oblivious to any views, Jersey country houses were generally built facing south to catch the sun. Often, at least to begin with, there were no windows in either gable and few at the back. Over the years most houses have had the original small windows enlarged, sometimes sympathetically, and in keeping with the original design, sometimes ruining the proportions of the building.

Much restoration work of farmhouses and other properties has been undertaken in the 20th and 21st centuries and, in many cases, this has allowed original features, which have lain hidden for a long time under internal plaster work and external rendering, to be seen again. The Victorian style for covering stone walls with cement rendering has been reversed and fine granite features of the original buildings have once more been exposed.

Families

It is not the objective of this section of Jerripedia to draw attention in great detail to architectural features of Jersey houses, although individual contributors are welcome to provide whatever information they have. We are more interested initially in discovering which families owned and lived in the houses.

Articles on individual houses will, however, draw attention to important and unusual features, particularly when these allow dates of construction and rebuilding to be identified. Sometimes there are contracts in existence which allow individual features to be dated, but often it is expert knowledge of building styles which allows properties or sections of them to be accurately dated.

This can apply to styles of window, staircases, stone and granite lintels over large, open fireplaces, and many other elements of a house's design.

The datestone on an 18th century farmhouse at Trinity where the writer of this article once lived. CHB ♥ MGL 1727 is for Clement Hubert and Marguerite Gallichan, who were married in their home parish of Trinity on 11 December 1723 and presumably either moved into this house or had it built some four years later. Although the stone has presumably been in place for nearly 300 years, it is now concealed under a conservatory and only made it on to the datestone register in 2001.

Datestones

A further method of dating properties is to decipher the carved granite datestones which are built into the walls of many of them. But great care has to be taken in interpreting these stones, sometimes erroneously called marriage stones, because they can be used for a variety of purposes. Some certainly show a date of construction and the initials of the owners at the time; others commemorate the acquisition of a building by new owners; yet others commemorate an important family event, such as a marriage.

Over 1700 of these datestones are now included in the Jersey Datestone Register and their content and purpose is analysed in detail. The register has not now been updated for five years.

This register shows that some stones are known to have been removed from one property and incorporated in a different house, perhaps in another parish. So though they all have historical interest, they do not necessarily provide clues to the background of the house where they are today located.

Previously unknown stones are being revealed all the time, as restoration work is undertaken or simply as researchers are given access to parts of buildings previously hidden from public view.

Contributions

A very early stone tourelle staircase at La Maletière, Grouville
Jerripedia users are invited to make their own contributions to this section. If you have information about a particular property or properties which may have been owned by your ancestors at some time in the past, please make it available on the site. There is a long list of important properties in the index, which is divided into the 12 parishes. Some of the individual pages have yet to be created, and contributors are invited to start any for which they have information. Or you can create an entry in the index for any property not yet listed and go on to create an article about that house.

Don't worry if you only have a small amount of information - just the names of a few generations of a family who lived in a house is a good starting point. Use that to get the page going and others will contribute more in the future. If you have any difficulties, would prefer to send material to an administrator for uploading to the site, and particularly if you have pictures which can be used with a house article, please contact editcontact@theislandwiki.org (please use Jerripedia as the subject for your email) for assistance.

Sources

The information on the houses featured in this section is drawn from a variety of sources, including Annual Bulletins of la Société Jersiaise, various books about island history, a limited amount of material to be found on-line, and information received direct from individual family historians.

Although sources are not listed with each individual house profile, Jerripedia wishes to acknowledge the particular importance of Volumes 1 and 2 of Old Jersey Houses by Joan Stevens, and Alex Glendenning's Jersey Datestone Register, which is only available on-line.

We previously had links here to a number of Jersey Archive's online leaflets about property in Jersey, but they have been moved or deleted so we have had to remove the links

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