Corn Market, Royal Square

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The Corn Market

The ground floor of the imposing building at the western end of the Royal Square was originally an open, arched corn market. Today it houses the island's Registry Office, once the only location where civil marriage ceremonies were conducted (various locations throughout the island are now licenced for marriages). It also houses the centralised records of births, marriages and deaths since 1842, and as such is a magnet for those researching their family history. In 1962, when this picture was taken, it was occupied by a branch of the National Provincial Bank (later National Westminster) and the picture shows vividly what a typical banking office looked like in thos days, with rows of desks with typewriters, as opposed to the banks of computer screens which would be seen today. The arches of the original corn market can still be seen, but the building was extended outwards into the square in the late 18th or early 19th century, ruining the lines of the building in many people's eyes, but creating a terrace at first-floor level. THe original structure dates back to the middle of the 17th century. Suzanne Dumaresq, then Dame de La Haule, was given permission in 1669 to build the Halle à blé (corn market) at her own expense, in exchange for the right to build her own town house above. This was a time when a house on the Royal Square was highly fashionable. The building was completed in 1672 and a large room, known as the Long Room, was later let out for public meetings. John Wesley preached there in 1787 and it was also used to stage some of Jersey's the first theatrical performances. As can be seen in the small picture below, which dates from 1831, the building was much more modest at this time, but already had the ground floor extension hiding the corn market arches. Today the first floor is occupied by a private gentlemen's club, the United Club.
A picture from the second half of the 19th century showing that the building was rebuilt in 1823
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