The watermills of Queen's Valley
Although it has been said that there were five watermills in Queen's Valley and that a sixth watermill in the parish of Grouville was sited in La Hure (field G279) near the foot of the west side of Grouville Hill, all the known references are to three mill sites in Queen's Valley. Successive mills built on the same site may have moved position slightly, but there is no documentary evidence for further sites.
The three known mills are:
- Le Moulin de Haut or Le Moulin à Bree
- Le Blanc Moulin or Le Moulin Mayen
- Le Moulin de Bas or Le Moulin Malet
The first two have been destroyed recently during the construction of the new reservoir; the third at the mouth of the valley is soon to be overshadowed by the massive dam. In addition to the watermills there was, for a short period in the mid-19th century, a horse-mill in the middle of the valley.
No medieval name for the valley is known, although in the 13th and 14th centuries the Crown mills are referred to as of 'Ruaval' or of 'Ruequal'. Certainly, since the 16th century and possibly earlier, the valley has been known as Le Val des Moulins or Les Vaux des Moulins. The name Queen's Valley appears to date from the 19th century when the Crown owned not only Le Blanc Moulin and the neighbouring meadows, but also the Queen's Farm (now Saint Saviour's Hospital).
Le Moulin de Haut or Le Moulin à Bree and Le Blanc Moulin or Le Moulin Mayen
Early history to 1649
These two Crown mills appear together in the late 13th and early 14th century records. The only earlier reference is a confirmation in 1234 (25 April) by Henry III, of 60 sous to the lepers of Saint Nicolas de Grauntport on the mill of Ruaval, (of which 40 sous were due to the lepers for their upkeep and 20 sous to the ‘'luminaire'’ of their church, in three payments of 20 sous). This 60 sous had previously been granted by KingJohn and Henry III, of whom the latter, in 1234, ordered the Bailiff to put the lepers in full possession of this rente. It is interesting to note that this is the only medieval reference to a single Crown mill in this valley.
It is not known if the grant was specific on the revenues of this mill (presumably Le Moulin de Haut), or whether there was at the time only one Crown mill in the valley. No further mention of the 60 sous rente appears in the later Crown rentals, but it does occur in two sets of 14th-century accounts.
Those of John des Roches, Keeper of the Islands (1328-1330). show that the lepers of '’magni portis’' received 10 sous at Easter, 10 sous at '’Apostle’' and 10 sous for the light in the chapel of Saint Nicolas. The accounts of John de Carteret, Receiver (1349), show that the lepers of Saint Nicolas of ‘'Magno Portu'’ received for the terms of Easter and Saint Paul 40 sous, which for the period of accounting was 20 sous or 8 sous sterling.
The two watermills appear in the Extente of 1274, where, under the Parish of Grouville, is listed "Item de deux Moulins, 13 livres" Giving a combined annual rental of 13 livres tournois. By 1309, when the mills are next mentioned in the Assize Roll, their annual value had increased to 20 livres tournois, and had increased to 22 livres tournois by 1329, as shown by the accounts of John des Roches
The Extente of 1331 explains their situation a little more fully. The King had two mills in the parish of Grouville: Le Moulin de Ruequal and Le Moulin appele Le Moulin Mayen. They were in a poor state of repair and would cost an estimated 241ivres tournois to reinstate, the King having to provide the necessary materials.
Unlike other Crown mills in the island where various tenants of the King's desmesne had to furnish parts of mills, or mill wheels, or provide the necessary transport from France, in Grouville all repairs and parts were the King's responsibility. Once repaired, the mills were said to have had a value of 20 livres tournois. The Extente notes that the mills were estimated together in repair and value because it was customary to lease them as a single unit.
The accounts of John de Carteret, Receiver, covering the period from Michaelmas 1349 to 8 August, 1350, places the value of the ‘’molendini medri’’ as 12 livres. The second mill, now called Fauvel, produced no income because the mill stone was defective. Furthermore, 20 denier tournois had been spent purchasing 100 nails for the gutter or water-course of the ‘’molendinium mein’’ .
At this time it appears that Collas Philippe was the farmer of the ‘’molendini medri’’. The Philippes were a family well established in this area, and the collection of farms on the west side of the valley is indeed still known as La Ville es Philippes, although in 1331 the Caruee es Philippes was held by the de la Hougue family. A Colin Philippe was recorded in the Extente as one of the contemporary twelve jures for Grouville.
Surprisingly the accounts of 1378-1379, as listed by de la Croix, make no mention of the Queen's Valley mills, though they do list the incomes of several other Crown mills. None of the few surviving 15th century records adds to the story of Queen's Valley. The next mention of the mills is to be found in the Crown Extente of 1528.
The two mills are again leased out together to Nicholas Bartram for 12 escus. They are now called the 'mylle blanke' and the 'molen bray', the earliest recorded use of both these names. An addition to the Extente records the new tenant, Thomas La Cloche. An erased addition shows that John Chambers had been a tenant for the 'mylne mayne' for 27 sous a year. In the 1528 Extente the monies used are sterling -livres, sous and deniers, (there are also a few odd deniers tournois). The factor for conversion, at that time, was 10, ie 10 denier tournois equals 1 denier sterling and '1 ½ denier sterling 1 denier tournois' would produce 16 denier tournois etc. Thus 27 sous would be 270 sous tournois or 13 livres 10 sous tournois.
An unconfirmed reference to the contract book of one Aaron Messervy mentions the new ecluse of Le Blanc Moulin in 1559. By 1607 the tenants had changed. The two mills, still tenanted together, were held by Francis Amy and John Benest for an annual rental of 60 French Crowns (equivalent at the time to 18 livres sterling).
The description in the Extente has led to much confusion over the siting of the various mills. It describes Amy and Benest holding the "Mault Mill underneath the Brew house and the Whit Mill beneath the said Mault Mill': This has been interpreted as meaning that the Blanc Moulin site had two mills. The Blanc Moulin itself (here called the Whit Mill) and adjacent to it, but further up the leat, the malt mill, the top floor of which was the brew house. In fact the malt mill was the Moulin de Haut (Moulin à Bree) and 'beneath' means downstream.
Elsewhere in the Crown Extente of 1607 are references in Saint Clement, Saint Saviour and Trinity to the forfeiture of one 'Gasnier'. This is first recorded in the 1528 Extente. 36 sous were paid to the Crown for the farm called the 'ferme' in Saint Saviour (forfeiture of Getrueir) and 9 sous of rente for meadows in Saint Saviour (Gaynardis).
In Grouville, Othis Anqtil paid 9 cabots of wheat (part of 17 cabots) for Garnyer, and Noel Le Lyevre paid 14 cabots of wheat for absent lords for Garnier. John Germain of Saint Clement owed 2 cabots of wheat for absent lords, and Guillmyne the late wife of Clement Hardy owed 2 quarters of wheat in Trinity, though neither of these mention Gasnier.
Returning to the 1607 Extente, the 2 cabots now due by the heirs of John Germain and the 2 quarters due to the heirs of Thomas Le Hardie are rebated to the said heirs in consideration for 18 cabots of rente due to them upon the 'King's Ferme' of the forfeiture of 'Gayner'. John Anthoyne owes 17 cabots to the Crown in right of Hostes Anquetil but the reference to Gasnier is now forgotten.
The most important reference in relation to Queen's Valley is to be found under the parish of St Saviour. Included in the grounds retained in the Governor's hands are the following. First, the 'King's Ferme' of the forfeiture Ganyer containing 45 vergees 35 perches and 4 pieds and, second, the cotils of John Payne .and Martin Le Gros containing 3 vergees and 31 perches which are reserved for the use of the old Castle and brewhouse.
The Extente goes on to explain that about fifty years earlier, in the time of Sir Hugh Paulet (Governor 1550-1571) there had been, " ... a Brewhouse built in the Parish upon the ground aforesayd upon the Forfeicture of Gaynyer called the Kings Ferme ... ". Most of the farmers of the Crown Dimes were held to deliver their barley to the brewhouse. The brewhouse was retained in the Governor's hands for the use of his house, its annual rental being 20 livres sterling.
The main part of the King's Farm, the forfeiture Gasnier, was eventually sold by the Crown to the Public of the island in 1863 (11 September). This purchase formed the original extent of the 'Lunatic Asylum', Saint Saviour's Hospital. Hence the two mills and the brewhouse were not all on the same site.
The mills are Le Moulin de Haut and Le Blanc Moulin, and the brewhouse was in land now forming part of the grounds of Saint Saviour's Hospital. There are no specific references to the mills after 1607, and they next appear in 1649 at the time of the sale by Charles II of Le Moulin de Haut.
1649 to date
In 1649 Charles II made his second visit to the island, having spent some two months in Jersey as Prince of Wales in 1646. By 1649 the Royal position in England was becoming desperate. Charles I had been executed and Charles II, though proclaimed King locally on 17 February 1649, had had to flee his kingdom. He arrived in Jersey on 17 September 1649, and left for Breda on 13 February 1650.
Whilst in the island Charles II realised several of the Crown's assets. He sold off fiefs, sold rights on others creating more noble tenancies, and sold Crown rentes. On 11 January 1650, a month before he left, he sold by letters patent issued under the Great Seal of England at Elizabeth Castle to Philippe de Carteret, the malt mill near the 'ferme' in the parish of Grouville for 1,335 livres tournois.
Philippe de Carteret presented the letters patent to the Cour d'Heritage at the sitting of 17 January 1650. The mill was to be a perquisite of the eldest heir without division. This Philippe de Carteret, son of Elie, was the brother of Sir George de Carteret and in command of Mont Orgueil Castle at the time.
On Philippe's death his eldest son Elie sold to his brother Philippe in London on 29 August 1681, (registered locally on 25 February 1682) both the water¬mill in Grouville called the malt mill near the 'ferme', and the fiefs of Anneville, Everard and Lernpriere. These were granted by Charles II on 12 January 1650 to Elie de la Place, whose daughter and heir, Marie, was the wife of the first Philippe. The properties passed to Elie by the partage of his late father's estate of 10 April 1677.
Ten years later Philippe sold to his brother-in-law, Clement Dumaresq (who married Philippe's sister Marie), the corn mill (Le Moulin à Bled) commonly called Le Moulin à Bree near the 'ferme' in Grouville. At this time (21 April 1691) it appears that the mill was no longer primarily a malt mill, which is perhaps not surprising as the Brewhouse or its site was still Crown property, although by this time it is no longer recorded.
The deed of sale to Clement Dumaresq, which was for 2,700 livres tournois, mentions the mill as being in poor repair. There was provision for Philippe to buy the property back (‘’droit de remere’’) and Clement Dumaresq would have had to be reimbursed for any improvements he had carried out to the mill.
Philippe never exercised his right to buy back the mill. It was sold eventually by Clement's grand-daughter Jeanne, daughter of his son Helier, to Louis Le Tourneur on 4 December 1756. The mill was reassigned by the administrator of Louis to Jeanne on 5 June 1762. Jeanne retained the 10 cabots of wheat assigned to her in the purchase by Louis by way of recompense for both arrears of rent and devaluation of the mill.
Meanwhile, in 1732, the Dumaresqs were sued in the Royal Court by Francois Payn, Seigneur of the Fief au Sauteur, who claimed that the mill was situated on his fief and hence owed seigneurial dues. The Dumaresqs claimed that the mill had been bought from the Crown, stated it was thus not on any fief, and actioned Payn to show documents and evidence to prove his claim.
By September 1734 the case was dragging on and the parties had to amend their pleas as Francois had been cited as 'fils Francois fils Philippe' instead of 'fils Francois heritier de Philippe Payn gent. son frere aisne et principal heritier de Philippe Payn gent. snr. The outcome of the case is not recorded, if indeed it continued past this oupset.
The mill was sold by Jeanne Dumaresq's son, Philippe Nicolle (fils Philippe) on 3 April 1813 to Philippe Le Brun. Philippe Le Brun was caught up in a succession of bankruptcies and the mill passed eventually to Edward Voisin,who sold it to the public in 1897. In this contract the mill is referred to as 'Le Moulin de Haut' or 'à Bree'. On Godfray's map of 1849 it is also called Le Moulin de Haut.
Throughout this time the mill was continually sold with the bies (mill streams), ecluse (mill pond), petit pre (meadow) and chemins (roadways). The mill pond was below Saint Saviour's Hospital where a concrete dam was, until recently, still visible. The road to the south of the mill appears to have been the only access road to it. In 1620, when the mill was still Crown property, at the Visite des Chemins in Grouville, it was ordered that the '’serrnentes'’ of the Vingtaine des Marais should have the road leading to the mill levelled.
In 1815 Philippe Le Brun, miller at Le Moulin de Haut, bought three perches of land at the north end of Le Cotil de Joguot from Jean Grandin. This was alongside the valley road and the then track leading to the Moulin de Haut. Here, Philippe Le Brun built a '’rnoulin à chevaux’' (horse mill), which can clearly be seen on Godfray's map of 1849. By 1879 this mill had disappeared.
Le Blanc Moulin or Le Moulin Mayen
1649 to date
Unlike the Crown Extente of 1607, which mentions both the Malt Mill and Le Blanc Moulin as well as the Brewhouse, the Extente of 1668 records only Le Blanc Moulin. This is not surprising as by then Le Moulin de Haut had been sold to Philippe de Carteret. The annual rental for the one mill was 52 escus, from which 12 escus were deducted for repairs, leaving a net income of 40 escus (each of 60 sous tournois).
Since the early 16th century, the mill has usually been referred to as Le Blanc Moulin, but the old name of Le Moulin Mayen is perpetuated in contracts of neighbouring lands in the 17nth century.
Again in 1749, the Extente lists only Le Blanc Moulin, but no rental is given. Either before or, perhaps, as a result of the Extente, the Crown Commissioners reported on the state of the Crown property. It was once again in poor repair.
At Le Blanc Moulin the main door was worn out and needed replacing. The back door and its frame were useless and two new windows were required. It was deemed necessary to have a floor in the loft, though there does not appear to have been one previously, and the roof needed repairing. The masonry supporting the leat needed repairing and in part rebuilding with lime and sand, all at a cost of 102 livres.
In 1856 a lawsuit was started between Edward Ellis and Francois Jean Le Montais, tenants of the mill, and Josue Graut owner of the meadow to the north. Ellis had recently changed the mill pond and altered the overflow so that it no longer watered the meadow, and had also recut the leat.
The lawsuit dragged on and was eventually resolved in 1861 by the Crown buying the meadow from Graut's heirs. At the same time a contract of arrangement was passed between the Crown and Grant's daughter and widow. This contract was to agree the arrangements for the roadway which led past the north-west side of Le Blanc Moulin. The road was given specific widths and, more importantly, whatever works necessary were to be undertaken to the part of the road that passed under the mill gutter which carried the water from the leat to the mill wheel, so that a cart, '’charette à foin’', or ‘’à echelon’', when loaded, could pass underneath.
Mill in poor condition
At what date the mill ceased to function is unknown but in May and July 1890 correspondence exchanged between the Receiver-General and the Treasury yet again records the mill as being in a poor condition. It was not thought that a purchaser could be found for the parts, as few water mills were still operational, there being at that time many steam mills. On 5 July 1890, the British Treasury sanctioned the spending of £26 on the mill, which was to include an estimated £10 for the removal of the disused and decayed mill gear.
The mill itself was demolished finally in the spring and early summer of 1989, as were the leat along the west side of the valley above the meadow and the millpond immediately to the north of the lane leading up to La Ville es Philippes.
Le Moulin de Bas or Le Moulin Malet
Le Moulin de Bas is the sole surviving mill of the Queen's Valley trio. It was previously the seigneurial mill of the Fief es Maltieres and was referred to as Le Moulin Malet. It was one of a number of unusual perquisites of the fief.
In 1180 the Abbess of Caen in the ‘’Ministerium de Gorroic’’ received 7 livres statute tithe and 10 quarters of wheat on mills taken at 60 sous statue alms. The 7 livres 60 sous appear in the Assize Roll of 1309, although there the division is different, being 7 livres 10 sous and 50 sous on Le Moulin Malet.
In 1223 Guillaume Malet succeeded in retrieving the fief, which had been confiscated by the Warden of the Isles on the death of his father Robert, whilst Guillaume was a hostage to King John between about 1204 and 1214. Robert Malet had been in trouble in 1180 when the fruits of his garden and his chattels had been sold to the benefit of the Duke.
The Assize Roll of 1299 records what would appear to be the end of one branch of the Malet family. Mathiote and Margarete, daughters of the late Guillaume Adure, claimed from their uncle Guillaume Malet the eighteenth share of Le Moulin Malet, which escheated to them on their mother's death, but which had been unlawfully withheld. Guillaume Malet could not deny this and was fined for unlawful detention. It was ordered that they should recover their share of the mill by '’ouye de paroisse’'.
In 1309 in the Assize Roll under the section for Grouville it is recorded that the Fief es Malet was held by Hamelin de La Hougue in right of his wife. Situated on the fief was a certain mill on which the King had previously received 50 sous a year, so that the mill could have the common multure of the King's tenants wishing to grind at the mill.
The Abbess of Caen received annually from the King 50 sous of alms at Gorey Castle, hence the Abbess received the 50 sous due on the mill. This sum had been given to the Abbess by Duke William the Bastard, but it is not clear whether it was due on the mill or if this is, in effect, a case of the Crown assigning a 50 sous incoming rente to a 50 sous debt.
It is, however, possible that the Moulin Malet existed at the time of the grant by Duke William. The Jurors of the parish reported that the tenants of the mill should have had, every three years, the sum of 30 sous for the building of the said mill as of time immemorial.
In 1331 the fief was held by Guillaume de La Hougue, presumably the heir of Hamelin of 1309.
The late 14th and 15th-century records of Jersey are sparse, hence it is fortunate that a sale of rights in the Moulin Malet of 1433 has survived. Not surprisingly, it poses more questions than it answers. On the Tuesday after the feast of the apostles Saint Philippe and Saint Jacques (28 April) 1433, Thomelin de St Martin (eldest son and heir of Guillaume de St Martin) in right of his wife and Guillemote Payn, principal heir of Collette Payn, widow of Thomas Daniel, leased in perpetuity to John Lernpriere, Seigneur de Rozel, all their rights in the Moulin Malet in Grouville for a price of 12 cabots of wheat rente per annum. How Guillemote and Thomelin acquired the rights in the mill or how John Lernpriere disposed of them is not known. However, the mill reappears in 1604 in the hands of a different branch of the Mallet family.
On 2 February 1605, Francois Amy, ‘’meneur’’ (guardian) of the children of Jean Journeaux in right of their late mother Isabel, daughter and heir of Henry Mallet, sold to Jean Le Feubvre, son of Germain, and Richard Dumaresq, ‘’meneur’’ of Marie and Judith Le Feubvre, his sisters, the houses, colombier (dovecot) fief, mill etc. of es Malet. Later, on 17 April 1605, in their partage the daughters took as well as the fief and house, the Moulin de Malet, including the bies, ecluse and cotils,
One of the perquisites that passed with the fief was the '’pesquerie'’, for which three chapons (capons) were payable to the Crown. By the partage Jean took, amongst other lands, Le Long Pre containing 9 vergees 7 perches, including the land by the bie. This was later to be in the possession of Josue Graut.
Journeaux still in debt
The Extente of 1607 still records John Journeaux, in right of his wife, as owing 50 sous to the Crown for rent of a mill in Grouville in the possession of Henry Mallet. This rent was no longer paid to the Abbess of Caen, presumably as a result of the confiscation of the alien priories by Henry IV, although it would be expected to appear in the Extente of1528, but it does not.
The 1668 Extente records Philippe Payn in right of his mother, daughter of Germain Le Feuvre, owing 50 sous for the mill. In 1749 it was Francois Payn, son of Francois, son of Philippe who, 15 years earlier as Seigneur of the Fief au Sauteur, had sued the Dumaresqs of Moulin de Haut.
Elizabeth, daughter of the Reverend Prancois Payn, married John Le Couteur. Their son the Rev Francois Le Couteur, bought on 5 April 1777, from the Rev Jean Jones and Jeanne Payn, his wife (only daughter of Francois Payn, brother of Elizabeth), the house, lands and colombier together with, among others, La Pecherie à Vraic et à Poisson (3 chapons), Le Moulin de Malet (50 sous) and the Fiefs es Mallet (4 oyes) and au Sauteur (10 sous), all due to the Crown. Francois Le Couteur 's son, Francois Jean, encountered financial difficulties and the mill was sold by his creditors. The history of the mill can be traced through the 19th and 20th centuries to the acquisition by the present owners. In the contracts it is referred to as Le Moulin de Malet or Lower Mill.
It is important to ask how and why the Crown tenants were able to grind their corn at what would appear to be a seigneurial mill.
The early history of the fief, like that of the mill, is surrounded in mystery. The tenants of a fief owed ‘’suite de moulin’’ at the seigneurial mill, thus it is to be expected that the tenants of the Fief es Maltieres would owe suit at Le Moulin Malet. Similarly, the Crown tenants in Grouville would owe suit at a Crown mill. In 1331 the Crown tenants in Grouville owed suit at whichever Crown mill in the island they wished, but did not, as noted above, have to contribute to the repairs of the Crown mills. In the rest of the Crown fief in 1331 the tenants owed suit at a named mill in their, or in a neighbouring, parish and contributed in some way to its upkeep
Tenants could choose
The Grouville tenants were thus at liberty to use the mill of their choice. Yet, of the nine Crown watermills listed in 1331, two were in Grouville (Le Moulin de Haut and Le Blanc Moulin), as was the windmill. In addition to this the Grouville tenants could also use Le Moulin Malet.
It should be noted, as de Gruchy points out, that the tenants of the demesne in Grouville paid rente of 10-14 sous per bouvée, whereas in the rest of the island they paid 6, 7 or 8 sous, except for some in Saint Saviour who paid 10 sous and in Saint Brelade 9 sous. Furthermore, the Crown fief in Grouville listed 109 bouvées, Saint Lawrence, the next largest, was 79 bouvées and Saint Mary, the smallest, was 48 bouvées.
The Fief es Maltieres also had a second unusual appurtenance. The fief is situated around Les Pres Manor, at the south end of Queen's Valley, although it extends as far north as Le Mont Malet. It is landlocked in the sense that it does not touch the beach, and hence could have no automatic claim to foreshore or the rights usually associated with fiefs bordering the beach.
However, the fief has at some time been the subject of a special grant or purchase, concerning the Pescherie mentioned in the 1605 partage. The 3 chapons due to the Crown on this are traceable in the Extentes of 1607 and 1668 but do not appear in 1528 or earlier, nor is the origin of their association with the Pescherie known.
On 28 April 1747 Venerable Homme Francois Payn, Seigneur es Maltieres, was confirmed by the Royal Court in possession of the Pescherie. A further Court Act of 6 June 1747 records an Acte of 13 May 1747 of the Deputy Vicomte, on the subject of the '’bornement’' of the Pescherie. Six 'P's were engraved on rocks and the area officially recognised. Indeed, five of these can still be seen at low tide.
Between Le Blanc Moulin and its ecluse is the meadow, Les Longs Pres, acquired by the Crown in 1861 from the heirs of Josue Graut. He had bought the meadows in 1836 from Jean Mallet, son of Philippe. Another Philippe Mallet bought the meadows in 1694 from the '’tenants apres decret’' of Henry Leigh Snr.
Henry Lys bought them in 1630 from Aaron Messervy, who had title from Jean Le Febure, son of Germain, in 1606. Jean Le Febure, of course, derives title from the 1605 partage and the purchase from the children of the late Isabel Mallet. This meadow thus forms, from at least 1604, part of the holding of the Seigneur es Maltieres, possibly long associated with Le Moulin Malet.
More confusion is added by the Appariement for Grouville of 1711, which states that the heirs of Francois Payn, Seigneur es Maltieres, and owners of the Moulin Malet, declare to hold from the Crown (amongst other lands) Le Parcq du Moulin, Le Parcq de Mallet and Le Pray de L'Ecluse. All these lands are situated between Le Blanc Moulin and Le Moulin Malet and to the west of the latter. Included in the Pray de i'Ecluse is 'L'Ecluse' itself of 2 vergees and 30 perch, and on all these lands Payn paid 'ferme' to the Crown.
Like Le Long Pre (held by Philippe Mallet, fils Philippe, in 1711) which had previously been held by the Seigneurs es Maltieres, these lands, including the ecluse, were on the Fief du Roi, and still are. '’Ferrne’' was payable by tenants of the demesne, of the Fief du Roi to the Prevot of the parish, who by '’assemblement'’ owed the '’prevore’' or '’ferme’' to the Crown. The prevote payments are recorded in the Crown Extentes of 1749, 1668, 1607 and 1528 as totals due by the prevot. However, in 1331 the Extente lists the holders of each bouvee on the Fief du Roi and states the amount they owe. Listed among them is Guillaume de la Hougue, who was also recorded as Seigneur es Malais (es Maltieres).
The seigneurial mill, be it a Crown mill or a fief mill, as a symbol of the feudal system, epitomises the links between the lord and the tenant. The feudal tenant was obliged to grind his corn at the seigneurial mill and for this right the tenant paid a charge. This varied from fief to fief, but in 1331 certain tenants in Saint Martin had an alternative to grinding at the mill by paying a fine of a sixteenth share.
These charges and fines undoubtedly provided a profitable source of income for the seigneur, especially as in some fiefs the tenants also bore part of the costs and work of maintaining and repairing the mill.
The benefits were not all one-sided. The capital expenditure of providing the mill and the land for the buildings, leats and millponds were borne by the lord. Thus this indispensable requirement of the farming tenant was provided for him.
Though the feudal obligation of suit at a mill has long been obsolete, Le Blanc Moulin survived as a working mill until the second half of the 19th century. It had been the last surviving Crown mill in Jersey until 1989 when this defunct relic of the feudal system finally made way for the modern world.
In 1331 the Extente lists nine Crown mills; prior to the 20th century the others had already been sold off or granted by the Crown. Thus with the loss of the valley for the new reservoir, the island has lost more than just a tranquil and beautiful valley, it has lost a major example of its historical heritage.