Greencliff Villa

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Jersey houses


Greencliff Villa, St Martin


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Property name

Greencliff Villa

Other names

Greencliff Cottage [1]

Location

Rue de Fliquet, St Martin [2]

Type of property

Mid-19th century country house

Valuations

The property sold for £1 million in 2004

Families associated with the property

  • Le Huquet: Shown in 19th century censuses, and Hilda Elsie Le Huquet, nee Le Seelleur (1878- ) still living there in 1941

Census returns

1851 - Greencliff Villa was occupied by Edward Le Huquet (1799- ), a carpenter, his wife Elizabeth, nee Coutanche (1808- ), a shopkeeper, her 86-year-old father Philippe; lodger Aston Key, a civil engineer from England; and Mary Ahier (1831- ) a servant who worked in the shop which may have been housed in one of the wings of the house and served the local community. Edward, baptised Edouard, married Elizabeth in St Martin in 1829. He was the son of Jean and Elizabeth, nee Billot. We have not yet been able to link Edward to any of our Le Huquet family trees

1861 - Ten years later Edward and Elizabeth were living alone at Greencliff Villa, both retired, and Edward now a Centenier of St Martin. There were a number of other Le Huquet families in the neighbourhood. Les Champs, next door, was occupied by farmer John Le Huquet and his family, including son John, a carpenter, and grandson John, also a carpenter.

Yet another John Le Huquet, a shipwright, was head of household at Greencliff Cottage, and next door, Gloria Villa [3] was home to shipbuilder Thomas Jean Le Huquet and his family. Fliquet Village was home to sailor Jean Le Huquet and his widowed servant Rachel Pallot and her two young children.

1871 - A further ten years later, the census showed Edward and Elizabeth Le Huquet still at Greencliff Villa. Edward, now 72, was described as a retired grocer.

The various cottages were home to retired farmer Philip Le Huquet and his wife Emma; shipbuilder John (aged 48) and his wife Mary, nee Ahier (39), and their two-year-old son John Edward

1881 - Edward, then 80, and described as an annuitant, was still living with Elizabeth at Greencliff Villa, and a second household in the property was occupied by another annuitant, Emma du Perrut, and her daughter Blanche.

John has stopped building ships - the industry had all but finished by 1881 - but was still at Greencliff Cottage, described as a farmer of five acres, living with Mary and son John.

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

This mid-19th century villa retains an interesting historical character, with a notable entrance porch. Despite later alterations to the north elevation, the house and outbuildings create a cohesive group which contributes to the rural setting.

The property is of historical interest as a mid-19th century rural villa, built circa 1840s. Two storey, five-bay house with single-storey wings to east and west. 20th century single-storey extensions to the rear of the main house, and linking to the outbuildings. A range of single-storey outbuildings run east/west parallel to the house, forming U-shaped yard; with a two-storey, three-bay cottage at the west end.

The property is fronted by a roadside granite wall, raised in front of main house, with west section retaining original iron railings and gate, with heart finials. Internally the property retains the original staircase in open well with painted stick balusters, and mahogany handrail ending in a spiral; a relocated fireplace; some four-panel doors and window panelling.

The harbour under construction in 1852

Breakwater construction workers

The HER entry claims a strong connection between Greencliff Villa and the shipbuilding industry at St Catherine: "The census returns from 1851-1911 record the Le Huquet family at Greencliff, with a continued association with shipbuilding - from Edward Le Huquet described as a Carpenter in 1851 to John Le Huquet described as a retired shipbuilder in 1901."

While the records quoted for 1851 and 1901 may be accurate, there is no proof that Edward Le Huquet was a ship's carpenter and in the intervening years the house had no link to the shipbuilding industry. Edward and his wife lived alone at the house in retirement while the shipbuilding business owned by another Le Huquet thrived on the nearby coast.

Although many ships were built in T and J Le Huquet yard in the 1850s, '60s and '70s, and earlier in the neighbouring yard owned by Vardon and Le Huquet, the HER entry completely ignores the fact that, in 1851, an entirely different industry dominated this corner of the island and had a major impact on the land surrounding Greencliff Villa, much of it owned by various members of the Le Huquet family.

Influx of hundreds of workers

It was the building of a harbour at St Catherine which brought hundreds of workers to the area, the majority of them not local men but newcomers from England and Ireland. They needed accommodation, and a whole village sprang up to house them, identified in the 1851 census as Greencliff Village. And, as the census return for Greencliff Villa indicates, Edward and Elizabeth Le Huquet met the needs of the rapidly expanding community by running a grocery store from their home, assisted by lodger Mary Ahier. Elizabeth was described in the census as a shopkeeper and grocer and ten years later Edward described himself as a retired grocer.

It is not clear exactly where Green Cliff Village was built, and little or nothing remains today. Perhaps the row of three two-storey cottages opposite Greencliff Villa, known today as Greencliff Cottages, were part of the village, but it seems likely that it was built so quickly, only to become redundant when the harbour project was abandoned a few years later, that the buildings which constituted the village were of a much more temporary nature.

There were over 20 households in the village and, when those lodging in the homes of Jersey families are taken into account, the census shows well over 150 construction workers and their family members living in what was hitherto a very quiet corner of St Martin.

Many were single men living together in premises run by a 'housekeeper', but others brought their wives and children with them to the island to take up what was undoubtedly lucrative employment at a time when work was hard to come by back at home.

British Government project

This was a British Government project, independent of the States of Jersey, so the great majority of those employed were brought to the island on temporary contracts. As well as numerous men described as 'labourer, government work' the census also identifies skilled workers such as 'stone cutters' and 'masons', as well as senior managers.

The superintendent of the project, James Heap, lived with his wife Ann, also from England, and their daughter Marguerite, who was born in Jersey after their arrival, in 1851. The cashier for the 'harbour of refuge' project, Henry Howell Smith, lived at nearby Millburn Cottage, with his Scottish wife Margaret. They must have arrived in about 1848, with their daughter Christina, then two years old, because she was joined in rapid succession by sisters Elizabeth Helen, Marguerite Napier and brother Henry Neville.

Also in the cottage were Margaret's 17-year-old sister Charlotte and a nursemaid and housemaid.

Unmarried civil engineer Aston Key was lodging with the Le Huquets at Greencliff Villa, and clerk of works Donald Martin and his wife, together with son Juilory, who was born in St Martin, were staying with another Le Huquet family, farming next door at Gloria Villa.

Project abandoned

This sudden influx of construction workers must have had a dramatic impact on this previously small and closely knit rural community, and the effect of their sudden departure when the project was abandoned in 1857 must have been equally intense. The 1861 census gives no clue to the emergence and disappearance of Greencliff Village.

There is a reference to Fliquet Village, perhaps all that remained of the larger complex and now home to four households of Jersey families. The area now attracted craftsmen rather than labourers, because shipbuilding had replaced breakwater construction as the major employer in the area

The HER entry shows that a number of ships were built less than half a mile away in St Catherine's Bay in the 19th century - the majority for the coastal trade. Among the earliest to be launched was the schooner Bellona built by Edward Le Huquet and Jean Vardon in 1837. The largest shipbuilders in the bay were J and T Le Huquet, who built 43 vessels in the shipyard by St Catherine's Tower between 1850 and 1879.

Notes and references

  1. Although there is a cottage behind the main house, this may not be the Greencliff Cottage referred to in some records.
  2. There is disagreement over the spelling of this district of St Martin. It is sometimes found as Fliquet and sometimes as Flicquet. It is Rue de... not Rue du... as shown in the HER entries
  3. This name no longer exists, but may have been a previous name for a property still in Rue de Fliquet
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