What's your street's story? - David Place
David Place, looking past Victorian terraces to the Royal Hotel, with St Mark's Church in the distance
David Place continues the line of Bath Street, from its northern junction with Victoria Street and Stopford Road, to Val Plaisant. It has a largely unspoilt terrace of fine three-storey houses on its eastern side, and buildings of note on the other side include the Royal Hotel, St Mark's Church and the Deanery, the home of the Dean and Rector of St Helier.
Today the terraced properties house a number of doctors and dentists surgeries, which is highly appropriate given that the old French name for the street is Rue ès Dentistes.
The street was an open road through fields and orchards when the 1834 Le Gros map of St Helier was drawn up, and within the following three decades it had become very much the street at it remains today.
David Place is a bustling part of the town of St Helier, with landmark buildings such as the Royal Hotel and St Mark's Church and a number of substantial terraces, many of which are still in original condition externally.
This area developed as the town expanded in the mid-19th century. Although the street was clearly shown on the 1834 Le Gros map, from the interesction with Gas Place to the junction with Val Plaisant, it was largely surrounded by fields and orchards.
Most of this land was owned by Jean de Quetteville, the youngest son of David and Francoise, nee Girard.  This branch of the de Quetteville family included a number of wealthy merchants. David was instrumental in the construction of Commercial Buildings.
When he diedin 1817 his sons inherited his large portfolio of property and Jean received the land in the areaof David Place. It seems likely that he named the road in memory of his father when he built himself a large home there.
The street is now home to many medical practices and, in particular, dental surgeries. This was also the case over 100 years ago when the medical profession first chose it was their preferred place to practice. Only two doctors were recorded there in the 1851 census, with the majority of properties yet to be built, but 60 years later, the last published census listed 13, including dentists, doctors, two veterinary surgeons and a pharmacy.
No 7 David Place is one of four properties marked on the 1834 map. Over the years it has been a private house, the United Services Hotel, the Civil and United Services Club, a doctor's surgery, and now a dental practice. It was built by Sampson Place on land he bought from Jean de Quetteville in 1825.
In 1901 the property was sold to Dr Philip Barnett Bentlif, who was born in Wiltshire in 1859. He was first recorded in Jersey in the 1891 census, when he was listed as a surgeon at 53 Bath Street. He obtained a military commission in January 1891, appointing him as surgeon to the Artillery Regiment of the Jersey Militia and a further commission of March 1904 saw his promotion to the rank of Surgeon Major.
He established a private medical practice at No 7 and following his death in November 1933, his son, Philip Graeme, took over the business. His obituary was printed in the British Medical Journal, in which he was described as the 'best-known medical man in the Channel Islands'. He was honorary consultant physician at the Jersey Infirmary and Dispensary at the time of his death, as well as president of the St John Ambulance, surgeon to the Fire Brigade, county directorof the British Red Cross, medical officer of the troops of Jersey and a prominent freemason.
On 16 May 1842 a meeting was called by the Rev Francis Jeune to discuss a proposal to build a church in David Place. A number of resolutions were agreed and funding was raised from wealthy individuals who each donated £50. They effectively became shareholders, having a say in the management of the church and receiving prominent family pews. This was an efficient, quick means of raising money for the building and a committee for the erection of St Mark's Church was formed.
Jersey Archive holds a comprehensive set of records concerning the construction of the church. Many of the documents date from the early 1840s and include contracts forthepurchase of land, receipts for materials, contractors' accounts, tender specifications and letters relating to the project.
The collection includes a shipping receipt for six bells and thefittings purchased in 1844 when the church was nearing completion. The receipt records that the bells bought from C and G Mears were on board a ship called Champion at anchorin the River Thames, bound for Jersey.
A further receipt reveals that Benjamin Hyatt was paid 10 shillings by the church for ringing the bells on the arrival of Queen Victoria in September 1846.
Another prominent building in David Place is the Royal Hotel, previously known as the Stopford Hotelor Bree's Royal Hotel. A fire insurance register of 1842 records the business as a boarding house called the Stopford Road Boarding Establishment, insured by George Bree, one of four Bree brothers who owned property in the area. His brother Elie took over the boarding house in 1847 andby the 1861 census had expanded the business, called Bree's Boarding House, to include 33 and 35 David Place, as well as 2-4 Stopford Road.
The list of boarders in this census included various officers, lords and ladies, and a seven-year-old 'gentleman' by the name of Cecil J Rhodes. Research has confirmed that this was the famous English imperialist, politician and wealthy businessman, Cecil John Rhodes. He was accompanied by his aunt Sophia Peacock. As he is known tohave suffered from asthma as a child, it is likely that they had come to Jersey because the island was perceived to provide a healthier climate for those suffering such ailments.
David Place is fondly known by many islanders as the home of a number of dancing schools. The Jersey Academy of Dancing at No 28 is still a thriving concern today. The school was set up in 1944 by Valerie Gladys Guy, who began dancing as a young girl in David Place at the Jersey School of Dancing. This school was located at No 52,and run by the Lillicrap sisters Nora, Josie and Ruth, who offered a variety of dance classes in the 1920s and '30s.
There was also a school at No 56, called the Dance Studio, run by Jeannette Boielle between the 1930s and '40s. Miss Le Riche's School of Dance will also be remembered by many at No 48, opened by Madeleine Le Riche in the late 1930s.
There is no doubt that David Place is a very busy area of town in terms of the amount of traffic using the road and this probably accounts for the fact that the intersection of Victoria Street, Stopford Road and David Place wasthe first place to have traffic lights in Jersey on 29 November 1956.
Notes and references
- ↑ Jean was also a ship owner: Swift, 177 tonnes; Nameless, 193 tonne brig; Water Witch, 124 tonne schooner; Typhys, 111 tonne brig; Pelican, 161 tonne brig; Apollo',' 85 tonne schooner. He was heavily involved in the Newfoundland trade