A history of St Aubin

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What's your street's story? - Saint Aubin


F16StAubinLanternSlide.jpg
A Victorian coloured lantern slide of the harbour


This article is based on a Jersey Archive 'Street Story' presentation in 2015


The early development of the harbour at Saint Aubin is closely linked to the fortification of the small islet which is now the location of St Aubin's Fort.

Defence concerns

The States of Jersey minutes first mentioned St Aubin's Tower in October 1542. The States were concerned with the artillery at the tower as part of a wider initiative to strengthen defences across the island.

This initiative was led by Sir Edward Seymour, Governor of Jersey, who in a letter of 1546 to the Bailiff and Jurats of the island, required 'four sufficient and able men to be and remain continually at Saint Aubin's Tower, being appointed with ordnance and munition for the preservation thereof and the better defence of the said country'.

During the same century the use of St Aubin as a harbour was growing and on 27 May 1585 Jacques Pipon was appointed to enforce a tax on grain and wine at St Aubin.

Privateers

During the Civil War period St Aubin gained prominence as the centre of the privateer fleet, authorised by Royalist Sir George Carteret to attack enemy ships and bring their prizes back to the island. Many of the privateers operating in Jersey were not from the island. The crews of the privateers drank in the taverns of St Aubin and this led to incidents and disputes, and in some cases, murder.

On the afternoon of 7 December 1646 a Royalist Lieutenant named Manuel Clement was drinking in a tavern with Michael Jenkinson, the master mariner of Sr George Carteret's galley. They fell into dispute over a bill and Jenkinson in his anger flung his money on the table and made for the door saying he would pay no more. Clement drew his sword and rushed after him, ran him through and left him dead in the gutter.

The Cour de Cattel records at Jersey Archive show that 12 men were sent to view the body of Michael Jenkinson, which was found 'in the public road near St Aubin at the foot of Mont de la Rocoque'. The men agreed that death was caused by a cut of the sword in the thigh.

The Old Court House Hotel is on the left hand end of the row of Bulwarks buildings

King's authority

On 14 March 1669, after the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II issued letters patent to Jersey following a petition from the islanders. The letters allowed Jersey to levy duty on imports with the proceeds being put towards the erection of a school in St Helier, a house of correction for the poor and the building and maintaining of a pier at St Aubin.

During the 18th and 19th centuries the south and north piers at St Aubin were constructed and provided a safe haven for merchant ships. The growth of St Helier Harbour eventually led to a declin e in merchant shipping at St Aubin in the 19th century.

The history of the properties and families of St Aubin's Harbour shows the strong links between the area and the island's shipping industry.

Old Court House Hotel

One of the most instantly recognisable properties on the Bulwarks in the Old Court House Hotel. During the German Occupation the property was known as the Osborne Hotel and was owned by Edward Le Brocq and Hazel Fauvel.

Correspondence from the Bailiff's Chambers archive shows that Edward Le Brocq, as proprietor of the hotel, had visited the German headquarters in July 1940 to complain that Randall's Brewery had refused to deliver beer to him in casks.

The local authorities were asked to investigate the claim and the Attorney-General was sent to visit the managing director of the brewery. Eventually the matter was settled as a misunderstanding.

Dean family

The 19th century history of the Old Court House centres around the Dean family. In 1864 the testament of Philip Henry Dean of Liverpool, ship broker, was registered in the Jersey courts. Philip Henry was born in Jersey and baptised in St Brelade on 28 February 1818.

The will shows that his two sons inherited property in St Aubin. Philip George Beaumont Dean received the buildings known as the Old House, the New House and the Fairy Queen Cottage. It is these properties that now form the Old Court House Hotel.

Albion House

Seale family

The Dean family had originally purchased the property in 1780 from Philippe Marett. In the contract the house is described as belonging to Jacques Seale, son of Jean, son of Pierre.

The Seale family's links to the property can be seen in the datestones at the Old Court House. There are two stones, one inscribed PS 1668 and one PS 1611. Bother sets of initials are believed to stand for Pierre Seale and the 1611 stone is thought to record the construction of the property.

The Pierre Seale referred to on the 1668 stone was born in 1641 and was Constable of St Brelade from 1690 to 1693. He was one of a number of individuals who clashed with the volatile Philippe Pipon, Seigneur of Noirmont, in the early 18th century.

Pierre Seale twice raised the Clameur de Haro against Pipon. The first occasion was when Pipon built himself a house that blocked the approach to Belle Croute, and the second when he claimed that the steps to Pipon's house at St Aubin were on land he owned.

The conflict between the two led to a dispute on the quay at St Aubin. Pipon arrived on a Monday when all the merchants were gathered to transact their business. Pipon was 'boiling over with rage' and proceeded to assault Seale with his cane until he was almost beaten senseless.

Yacht Club

Across Mont de la Boulevard from the Old Court House Hotel stands the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club. The building was purchased by the club from Kenneth Scott in 1956 and at the time was called Le Boulevard, formerly Albion House.

The property was purchased by John William Dart in 1917 from Harriet Elizabeth Howe. Harried already owned the Old Court House having purchased it in 1895.

She was born in 1846, the daughter of Benjamin Howe, a painter, and his wife Elizabeth, nee Turner. Benjamin and Elizabeth were born in England but in the 1851 census are listed as living in St Helier with Elizabeth's family.

By 1871 Harriet had moved from St Helier and she was living at Albion House with her husband Charles Moon. She was 24 at the time and her busband 50. He was born in Plymouth and had been a rating in the Navy.

Their fortunes appear to have risen through the 1870s. In March 1870 Charles purchased a 33-ton ketch called Venus that had been built in Jersey in 1852 by Philip John Le Sueur.

The shipping registers record that three years later in 1873 Charles sold the vessel to Harriet, after the couple had gone to court the year before to legally separate their property. This allowed Harriet to own items such as ships or houses in her own right.

Harriet and Charles were living in St Aubin in 1871 and in 1875 she bought the building that is now the yacht club in her own name. The couple continued to live at St Aubin until Charles' death in 1894. Harriet continued to own the property in 1901, when it was being run as a hotel by Frederick George Banks.

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