Nicolle history of St Helier - Chapter 23

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Modern developments

In 1734 the Parish of St Helier was still divided into four Vingtaines only. The Vingtaine of Mont-a-l'Abbe was at a later period divided into two districts and the Vingtaine, or more strictly speaking, Canton du Rouge Bouillon was created. The origin of this name is probably derived from the stream running through the valley where Queen's Road has been constructed.

Rouge Bouillon

The water rushed down this valley with such impetuosity that it was said to boil - bouillir in French, while from its reddish colour, due probably to its passing through some of the clay deposits at Mont-a-l'Abbe, the qualifying word rouge may be derived. Rouge Bouillon from being the name of the stream, came to be applied to the district, which was designated as early as 1570 as La Contree du Rouge Bouillon. Vingtaine de la Ville was not divided into two Cantons until 1813.

The opening years of the 18th century did not produce any very remarkable events in the domestic life of St Helier, but perhaps it may be worthy of note that a sign post called La Girouette was erected on the Town Hill in 1708, then the public promenade of St Helier.

In 1736 Falle, the historian, endowed the capital of his native isle with his library of books. The building in Library Place erected to receive his generous gift was completed in 1743 and opened to the public.

Statue

In 1751 there was a change in the Market Place. On 9 July the present statue of George II was unveiled. It stands in all probability on the very spot where once stood the market cross, which was the place where all public proclamations were made and where the Laws of the States and Ordinances of the Court were promulgated.

What became of this interesting relic of antiquity and when it actually disappeared must remain for the present uncertain. It is known that the Market Place was paved with stones in 1668. It is possible the Market Cross may have been pulled down at this date while the work was being done.

An Act of the States of 30 years later dated 22 March 1698, already cited as ordering the removal of La Cage, refers to the erection in the Market Place of a pedestal which was to support a dial. It was to be fixed on a spot in front of the house of Clement Chevalier, the property formerly occupied by the Chronique newspaper, and the Act of the States said that it was to be an ornament to the Market Place.

There is no indication in the Rolls that this pedestal and dial were to replace the old market cross, and whether the pedestal was ever erected must remain doubtful, for 23 years later on 21 December 1720, the States entered into an agreement with Edouard Le Preveu to erect in the Market Place, at such spot as would be found most convenient for the public use, a column or pillar with pedestal of the Tuscan type (Une colonise avec un piedestal de l'ordre Toscan). The column was to support a globe.

Change of plan

That this column was never erected is quite certain for on 7 November 1748 the States decided to sue Daniel Le Preveu, son of Edouard Le Preveu, to execute the agreement which his father had entered into with them. Daniel Le Preveu thereupon was permitted to resign his agreement in favour of Abraham Gosset, who undertook to carry out its provisions.

On 2 June 1750 Gosset was present at a meeting of the States and suggested that instead of constructing a pyramid in the Market Place, he be permitted to erect a statue of King George II, the statue to be of lead and to be gilded, the pedestal to be encircled by an iron railing, (balustrade), which was also to be gilded. The States agreed, and on 9 July 1751 the Statue was unveiled in the presence of the Lieut-Governor, the Militia and a large concourse of the inhabitants.

The Deputy-Viscount proclaimed the Statue to be erected in honour of King George II. The people then gave three cheers and at a signal given from the church tower, the guns of Elizabeth Castle fired a Royal Salute, answered by a feu-de-joie from the Militia in the Market Place. Then were brought on the scene many bottles of wine and the King's health was drunk by all the company present. In the evening there was a general illumination of the town.

Hospital

The building of the General Hospital, founded by a bequest of Mrs Mary Bartlett in 1740, was commenced in 1765. The poor had been housed in a building in Seale Street called Maison des Pauvres, the successor to the ancient Chapelle de la Madelaine, which had done duty as such in the 15th and 16th centuries. An Act of the Parish Assembly of St Helier of 27 September 1767 recorded that the building in Seale Street was in ruins and the Constable was authorised to sell it on 2 January 1772. The generous gift of Mary Bartlett had not come too soon.

During 1777 a clock was fixed in the Town Church for the use of the public, so the Act says, in the stead of the bell, which had been acquired as far back as 1633 to serve in lieu of a clock and to be rung for the opening of the market and for other public functions.

Newspaper

In 1784 printing was introduced to Jersey. In October of that year Mathieu Alexandre issued the first number of a monthly periodical called Le Magasin de l'Isle de Jersey. The Gazette de Jersey, the first newspaper, followed a couple of years later, and was published every Saturday.

In 1788 the first omnibus was seen in Jersey and established a more convenient means of communication between St Helier and St Aubin. Here may be recorded a few more events of the 18th century before we arrive at the threshold of the 19th into which we will just take a cursory peep.

In 1774 Methodism arrived in Jersey. John Wesley visited the Island in August 1787 and preached in a room, then called "The Long Room", the present United Club Room situated over the Corn Market. In the following year free Sunday schools were established in the town.

At this period the Church of St Helier or ‘temple’, as our forefathers preferred to call it, was still used as the arsenal. The Parish Assembly still met within its sacred precincts, and public elections still took place at the church door after divine service on Sundays. It was not until 1784 that the Constable of St Helier was requested to find some more suitable place to store the cannon, and it was not until 1831 that the principals and officers of St Helier transferred their political meetings from the church to some respectable tavern affording suitable accommodation. In 1831 elections were held on week days.

In 1797 the Parish Assembly of St Helier embarked on the undertaking of acquiring a hearse for the burial of the dead who were parishioners. It was termed Le chariot paroissial.

Mont de la Ville

Mont de la Ville was bought from the Vingtaine de la Ville in 1800 by the British Government for £11,280. The foundation stone of Fort Regent was laid by General Don on 7 November 1806.

On arriving at the 19th Century we have the advantage of being able to know the exact extent of the town proper from the plan made in 1799 by an engineer named Momonier. A comparison between this plan and that of Elias Le Gros, civil engineer, drawn in 1834, gives a better idea of the rapid development of St Helier during that generation than any attempt at written description. [Editor’s note: These two maps, which were actually drawn in 1787 and 1834, are included, together with one from 1837, on a Jerripedia page.

Mention may be made that Burrard Street and Don Street were only made public in 1817; Le Geyt Street in 1822; Halkett Place and Waterloo Street in 1825; Union Street in 1828, and the Esplanade was built in 1829. So, in the opening years of the 19th century Halkett Place, Beresford Street, Bath Street, David Place, Val Plaisant, Midvale Road and Springfield Road did not exist, and the district known as Rouge Bouillon, the greater part of the Parade, St. Luke's and Georgetown were not as yet built upon, but were pleasant fields and meadows where our grandfathers and grandmothers were accustomed to gather wild flowers.

The scope of this work is confined to St Helier in bygone times, and it is therefore fitting that this account should close with the entry of the 19th century.



Nicolle: The Town of St Helier
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