A history of St Peter's Village

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What's your street's story? - St Peter's Village


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Adapted from a presentation in the Jersey Archive What's Your Street's Story? series


St Peter's Village still has all the quintessential elements of a local community: church, parish administration, school, pub and shops. And while the names of the people and places of the village may have changed over the past 200 years, there are still a number of links to the 19th and 20th centuries.

Parish Church

St Peter's Church is the oldest building in the village and was the centre of the community, with prominent families having their own pews in the church. In the list of proprietors of the pews in the early 19th century, Blampied, Renouf and Le Boutillier are among the families which feature.

Philadephie Chapel

In the 19th century the rise of Methodism in Jersey led to the establishment of Philadelphie Chapel, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1825. The Methodist Sunday school began in 1832, with the church enlarged and an organ installed in the second half of the 19th century.

St Peter's Church and bar

Parish Hall

The parish hall stands opposite the church and the building is identified as such on the Godfray map of 1849. A postcard of the area with an image taken in the 20th century shows the date 1841 on the exterior of the building.

Even though the parish hall had been built by the 1840s, the Acts of the Parish Assembly show that meetings of the Constable and his officers often still took place in the local taverns. The assembly was responsible for the care of the poor of the parish, visiting them on an annual basis and making decisions as to which families should receive money, clothing, bread or meat.

They occasionally assisted the poor of the parish with passage from Jersey, an example being Mr Beaucousin, who was given money to travel to Newfoundland in 1862, providing that the ticket did not cost more than £5.

The Acts indicate that the parish had its own poorhouse, which in 1855 was described as being in a bad state. The assembly considered a proposition from George Philippe Slous to change the site of the poorhouse: he proposed that a new one be built next to his property.

Hefford's

It was the Slous family who originally owned the property that is now occupied by Hefford's shoe shop. Alfred Hefford purchased the building, known as St Elmo, from John Francis Huelin on 6 September 1924. Huelin bought the property from the Slous family in 1903.

It was Alfred who established the family business that he eventually left to his son, Frederick Vincent Hefford. Alfred died in England in 1943, but his son Frederick, who was 30 at the start of the Occupation, stayed at St Elmo. His registration card described him as a shoe repairer.

Western Stores

Western Stores was next to Hefford's on the site of the current Co-op store. THe original house and shop were sold to the Channel Islands Cooperative Society on 26 March 1976 by the Le Brocq family, who had run the store for much of the 20th century.

It was Stanley Le Brocq and his wife Eunice, nee Laurens, who owned Western Stores from the 1920s when Stanley bought it from Albert Falle Le Brocq. Albert had bought the house and shop in 1919 from Francis VIbert Le Feuvre when it was described as Western Cash Stores. It was Francis who built the property and started the original business on land that he bought in 1893.

de Gruchy shop

One of Jersey's best-known shops started its life in St Peter's Village. As a young man, Abraham de Gruchy went to sea on one of his uncle's merchant ships but returned to Jersey in 1810 to establish a small general store in St Peter.

He purchased land from Matthieu Horton in 1818 and built the property that is now St Peter's Country Inn. The property was originally called The Limes and sources indicate that part of the new house was used as the first de Gruchy general store.

Abraham was quite possibly influenced by the proximity of St Peter's Barracks and in 1818 he advertised that he had returned from London with a large stock of cloth and cotton goods. In 1819 he advertised for the first time for tailors, as he had become a Militia outfitter.

In 1820 the first branch of de Gruchy in St Helier was opened and Abraham sold The Limes in 1832 to Jean Simon. In the 19th century the property was a private house, which was sold by Francois Becquet to Henry James Berry on 24 November 1894.

The property became the Alexandre Hotel and had a number of owners in the first half of the 20th century until it was purchased by Fred Webber Clarke from Charles Francis Webb in 1832, It became St Peter's Country Hotel, and finally St Peter's Country Inn.

The village centre in 1927

New Star

The other main pub in St Peter's Village is the New Star. Owned by the Beer family today, it was inherited by Reginal John Beer from John Filleul Vautier on 26 August 1939.

In the 1860s, when it was owned by Jessie ELizabeth Collas. the property was involved in a bankruptcy case. Jessie had gone bankrupt in 1863 when she was only nine years old. The 1861 census shows her living with her parents and grandparents at the Picnic Hotel in St Peter.

Her grandfather Edward is listed as a publican of 61 who was born in St Mary. Living in the house were his wife Jane, Jessie's parents Edward John and Elizabeth, who was born in Scotland, and Jessie's younger sister Jane.

Only two years later, in 1863, Jerrie's bankruptcy documents show that both her father and grandfather had died. Her grandfather died in May 1861 of dropsy, and a year later tragedy stuck fthe family again when her father died of lung disease. Only three months later Jessie and her mother lost Jessie's younger sister who was only six at the time.

After the bankruptcy Jessie and her mother disappear from Jersey records. Elizabeth must have decided to return to her native Scotland, and in 1871, 17-yaar-old Jessie was living in Dalkeith with her mother and stepfather James McDonald.

School

Before she left Jersey Jessie might well have attended St Peter's School, which opened on 5 January 1863. The first headmaster's logbook or diary for the school is now held by Jersey Archive, and the daily record of education gives a real sense of children's lives and schooling at this time.

Punishments were given to the children for being late for school and behaving badly. On 22 May 1867 J Blampied played truant to go to the cattle show and was subsequently punished.

The logbook not only details school life during the second half of the 19th century, but provides information about the rural community. On 11 February 1863 the headmaster recorded:'Attendance very poor today. Only 22 present in the morning and 23 in the afternoon. The absentees were kept home by their parents to assist them in planting potatoes'.

In March attendance was also poor when students were kept home to assist their parents in 'cutting and collecting the vraic from the rocks in St Ouen's Bay'.

Post office

No village would be complete without its post office. In 1830, following a request from the Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the Postmaster General instructed reports to be written on the postal service in Jersey and Guernsey. One of the recommendations in the reports was to 'establish a penny post receiving house at St Peter at £2 2s 2d a year'.

The position of the earliest receiving house in St Peter is not known, but the parish had a revenue of £33 9s 11d in the year ending July 1836, the largest of the receiving houses in the island that year.

In 1846 George Philippe Slous was appointed as receiver of letters for St Peter. In 1851 he asked for a raise for his work, but it would appear that the Postmaster General in London refused, and he resigned his position in April the following year.

On 18 May 1852 John du Heaume was appointed as the letter receiver. He had purchased the building that is now known as St Peter's Post Office, in 1850, and from this date it can be assumed that the post of letter receiver and the location of the Post Office, were linked.

In 1857 du Heaume was dismissed and he sold the Post Office building to Edouard Syvret, who took on the position of sub-postmaster in 1864. He was succeeded by his widow, Elizabeth, who was sub-postmistress from 1868 to 1891.

It was during her tenure that there was a robbery at the post office on Christmas Day 1888. The Jersey Times and British Press reported that at about 7 pm five or six soldiers, one of whom was the barracks postman, went ot the post office, but Mrs Syvret was out.

The redcoats, who were apparently drunk, assaulted her servant, cut open a letter bag and made off with the letters.

At his trial, John Nugent, the barracks postman, said that he had simply gone to the post office to collect the mail, and finding Mrs Syvret absent, had helped himself. He was fined 10 shillings and the postmistress was cautioned by the Postmaster General for irregular proceedings in her absence.

In 1926 grocer Charles Godfray was appointed sub-postmaster. He had bought the building with his brother the year before. The post office was closed on 20 June 1940 and opened in September 1945 when Mr Godfray returned to the island. After his death in August 1863 his son Graham was appointed to replace him and continued until his retirement in 1995.

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