Almorah Crescent

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Jersey houses

St Helier:

Almorah Crescent


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The description in Old Jersey Houses as 'probably the most distinguished piece of Regency architecture in the Channel Islands' does not really do Almorah Crescent justice. It dominates the skyline of St Helier and, although the individual properties have lost the former grandeur of large family homes, externally the facade remains thankfully unspoilt. This lithograph, created shortly after the building was completed, shows how it stood in what was then open countryside, with the majority of the land around it still to be developed


Almorah Crescent is not strictly Regency, having been built in the earliest years of Queen Victoria's reign.

Following an assessment by the Jersey Heritage Trust in 2007, the crescent was listed as a Site of Special Interest the following year. It was first listed in 1972 - one of the first Jersey properties to be given such status - and the further listing in 2008 was necessary to define the exact boundaries of the listing.

History

From Old Jersey Houses Volume II [1]

"This crescent of ten houses is probably the most distinguished piece of Regency architecture in the Channel Islands, although its date of erection is just within Victoria's Reign. It has a commanding position above the town and catches every ray of sunshine there is.
"The view of St Helier by Philip Hutchings Rogers (1794-1853) (left) which formed the cover of the Societe Jersiaise centenary appeal brochure was taken from the approximate site of Almorah Crescent. At that time the hills above the town were bare of houses and there were farms in Rouge Bouillon. The northward creep of the town, begun to meet the great demand for superior houses by an influx of English residents after the close of the Napoleonic wars, was extending.
"At this time a very large area of Mont au Pretre belonged to George Dumaresq, of Ponterrin, and his wife Francoise, of Les Augres. Their land was later divided between their two daughters, Jeanne and Francoise. The latter married Thomas Le Hardy, whose initials are on a stone at the foot of St Saviour's Hill, and they inherited land from Campbell Terrace eastwards to Springfield. The elder daughter had married Mathieu La Cloche, who was Constable of St Helier from 1779 to 1782, and they inherited the large block of land in Rouge Bouillon and up the hill to King's Cliff. they had two daughters, the younger, Elizabeth, marrying Dr Edward Thompson Dickson.
"The elder daughter, Jeanne, married Capt Edward Ricard (1756- ) son of Charles, of La Robeline, St Ouen, a brother of the Rev Francois Ricard (1751-1823), Rector of St Peter and St Ouen and Dean of Jamaica. Edward Ricard had a son, Charles La Cloche Ricard and several other children, and this Charles was to become a speculative builder, and to lose his money, perhaps through over-ambition. He married Dora Louisa, daughter of Dr H C Taylor, the first English child born at Almorah in the Himalayas, after it was taken over by the East India Company; hence the name of the Crescent.
"They had two sons who died in childhood, and one daughter, Dora Louisa Ricard. Her undated letter to the Evening Post (perhaps about 1910) has provided more family information. She was the eldest child, born in 1840, and it was in 1838 that Charles Ricard started to exploit his mother's valuable inheritance when he bought his brother's and three sisters' shares of the land. The co-heirs were Jean Mathieu, Sophie Julie, Elizabeth Georgiana and Mary Anne Henriette."

In 1844 Charles Ricard was advertising that he had more land to dispose of on the terrace of ten houses and the following year he was advertising incomplete homes for sale, apparently attempting to establish a co-operative with carpenters and other tradesmen to complete the project. Some of the properties were described as 'covered', which suggests that others were yet to be roofed.

Ricard owned so much land in the area that it is not always clear which properties are being referred to, but his daughter remarked in her letter:"My father, an imprudent man, lost his fortune in Rouge Bouillon grounds, a large portion of which were sold by me". Is known that the financial hardship caused by the property speculation led by Ricard extended to many of the tradesmen involved and also the builders' merchants who supplied the materials.

2016 description

Apartments in the crescent, which have remarkable views over the town of St Helier, currently (2018) sell for upwards of £275,000. In 2016 the last remaining undivided unit - No 9 - was offered for sale, at a price we have not been able to identify, described as follows in a magazine article:

"9 Almorah Crescent is more than a little bit special, least of all because it’s the last remaining townhouse in this historical development. This spacious and versatile property offers unrivalled accommodation for the growing family, within close proximity to the centre of town and is presented in walk-in condition. Almorah Crescent is probably the most distinguished piece of Regency architecture in the Channel Islands and dates back to when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Houses in the Crescent were originally for sale in 1845, when they had very basic amenities, a far cry from the house you’ll see today.
"With every step you take on the six minute walk out of town to Almorah Crescent you get a little further away from the hustle and bustle of St Helier, despite its short distance from your front door. The gentle incline up to this imposing property sees you standing on high ground commanding wonderful views.
The crescent in 2016
"Upon entering the property you get a real sense of its history, it’s a little like taking a step back in time, but with all of the securities of a modern house. All of the rooms are well proportioned and benefit from being light and spacious, with beautiful high ceilings. The ground floor is home to a good sized dining room, featuring one of the properties six original fireplaces, which leads on to the well equipped kitchen. This room makes the very best use of the original cupboards and Welsh dresser, whilst being complemented by all of the modern amenities you’d want, a large range style gas cooker, marble worktops and a large double sink, to name but a few. Double doors in here open out on to the rear patio area, ideal for BBQs in the summer. Off this room there is also access to a flagstoned scullery (honestly, it really is the original scullery) and plenty of storage areas too. There is also a further door which leads you down to the basement, which has been cleverly converted into a home gym, but could just as well be made into a cinema, man den, or yoga room, the choices really are endless.
"With all of that on the ground floor, it’s hard to imagine you’ll need much more space, but onwards we go to the first floor. Here there is a cloakroom and room which would easily be used as a guest bedroom or snug. There is also a large lounge which leads on to a south west facing balcony which spans the full length of this room and is accessed by large double doors. This suntrap balcony is the perfect place to sit back and sip Pimms whilst watching the sun disappear over the horizon. There is also a second room off the lounge, which is currently used as a games room and hosts a large full sized snooker table and shelves filled with books, making this the perfect space for entertaining. Both of these rooms also have working fireplaces and lovely high ceilings, complete with their original ceiling roses and coving.
"On to the next level and you find the large house bathroom and also there is a surprisingly, but sensibly placed laundry room, which is like no other. Massive in size it’s large enough to accommodate a football team’s laundry, complete with large airing cupboards too, this space will be invaluable to any family. You can also access this room from the back courtyard, making it the perfect place to store any wet weather, or perhaps wetsuits your family may have too.
"Moving up to the master bedroom, which runs the full length of the front of the house and as such has views over St Helier’s rooftops to the sea at both La Collette on the south coast or to the right with Fort Regent and St. Aubins Bay in the distance. With enough room for a lounge area too, you’d be forgiven for wondering where you’ll be keeping your clothes, that is until you open the door which leads on to the incredible dressing room and luxurious en suite that has to be seen to be believed. This really is an exceptional space, which has been decorated and finished beautifully, like every other room in the house.
"Last, but by no means least you reach the final floor, which houses three of the five bedrooms. Each room is spacious and light and has the benefits of beautifully sanded original floorboards, work that was completed by the current owners. There is also access to a large loft here, which has been approved for conversion for further accommodation, if you should need it.
"While this house comprises 3,200 square feet of accommodation it doesn’t feel overwhelming. Each room is well proportioned and has been beautifully renovated by the current owners, meaning there really is little for anyone considering purchasing the property to do, other than move in their furniture and perhaps making their own stamp on the interior. Number 9 Almorah Crescent is a total gem which really does need to be seen to be fully appreciated, once you step through the front door you will be spellbound by its grandeur, it is a house that is just waiting to be filled with people and memories."

Further reading

The view from Almorah Crescent in 1856

Notes and references

  1. OJH II, 90
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