No 6 King Street

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6 King Street


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King Street in 1903 showing Nos 6 to 16 behind blinds on the right


The history of No 6 King Street and the buildings which have stood there is extremely interesting, if somewhat confusing.

Early occupants

In the 1851 census James Hurdon was in business at No 6 as a chemist. It is known that there was a pharmacy on the corner of King Street and Halkett Place for some considerable time and the 1851 census shows 1 Halkett Place as occupied by chemist James Aubin. These were separate businesses.

In the 1861 census No 6 is called Halkett House and is occupied by draper Philip Dumaresq (38), who has a staff of no fewer than 17 men, 4 boys and 16 females. He lived at No 6 with his wife Amelia Elizabeth Fruing (34), sons William and Philip, and his widowed mother Susan (nee Le Cerf).

Philip, or Philippe as he was baptised, was the son of Philip Dumaresq (1793- ) and Susanne Le Cerf. He was descended from a St Ouen and St Mary branch of the Dumaresq family and was not related to George, who was in business next door at No 8 as a draper at the same time.

No 6 would never be a pharmacy again, but No 4 remained one until the 1930s, in competition with another on the corner, numbered 1 Halkett Place (leter No 11)

Halkett House

The property was shown as Halkett House in the 1861 and 1871 censuses and also in later advertising by draper W Bisson, who traded there over the turn of the 19th century. Later Jersey's Woolworth store was built on the site.

Walter Bisson, in the advertisement on the right, gives a date of 1754 for the founding of his business, so it must have been established elsewhere at that time. This would make it one of the island's earliest businesses, because during the 18th century trade tended to be carried out on market days in what became the Royal Square.

From 1802 until 1822 what became No 6 King Street had a large house, which was set back from the King Street frontage, with a front garden behind a high wall. It was the residence of the island's Lieut-Governor. It was acquired by the British Government around 1800, and eventually sold in 1825, after Government House had moved to its present location on St Saviour's Hill.

A picture from the 1930s, showing Burtons, No 4; Woolworth, No 6, and Noel and Porter, with the blinds, beyond

But when was it called Halkett House? It would seem likely that it was so named after Sir Colin Halkett, Lieut-Governor from 1821-1830. Halkett Place, on which the property also had a long boundary, and Halkett Street, both opened shortly after Sir Colin's arrival, and were named after him. But why would Halkett House have been given his name when he took an instant dislike to it, refused to live there, and set in motion the process which led to its sale and the acquisition of a new, more salubrious residence in St Saviour?

That is a mystery, but there was no other Halkett in Jersey before Sir Colin arrived (his four children were born and baptised in the island between 1821 and 1826), so perhaps the house was given his name in an ironical gesture when he refused to live in it. Or had it been given the name in advance of his arrival? Perhaps it was so named by the British Government when they sold it. Perhaps the purchaser named it after the man who refused to live there.

Before the house, whatever it was then called, became the Lieut-Governor's residence in 1802, La Motte Manor at the far end of La Motte Street served that purpose. It was there that Moyse Corbet was disturbed by the French on the morning of the Battle of Jersey, 6 January 1781.

But that had not long been the Lieut-Governor's residence, because Peter Meade's map of St Helier drawn up following a survey in 1837 clearly shows the residence of the Lieut-Governor in King Street, where Halkett House was to stand.

Walter Bisson, tailor at No 6 at the turn of the 19th century

Development

Edmund Toulmin Nicolle, in The Town of St Helier says that the property was sold on 11 June 1825 to Matthieu Amiraux, and then acquired by Charles Francois Ramier on 27 February 1841. Ramier and Co, drapers, were already established in business at No 6 as early as 1834, and Charles Ramie, draper, is listed as the occupant in the 1841 census.

George Balleine, in The Bailiwick of Jersey, refers to the new proprietor in 1825 'making a fortune by selling the gardens as building sites'. If Nicolle is correct, this must have been Matthieu Amiraux, but the references in the Jersey property register for Halkett House show that it was acquired by William Le Brocq on 18 May 1822 from Louis Poignand.

On 27 February 1841 William Le Brocq sold land to Charles Francois Ramie, which was probably where shops were built in front of Halkett House, aligning with other properties in King Street. When the property was redeveloped for Woolworth, the roof and chimney stacks remained behind the building in front, and the upper floor was used as a staff canteen.

Draper Charles Ramie's property passed to his son Charles William Ramie, and part of it was sold on 7 May 1881 to Walter Bisson and his brother Charles John Bisson.

In 1917 Jesse Boot, Baron Trent, acquired Halkett House from Lilian Bisson, daughter of Walter Charles.

Queuing for Battle of Flowers tickets outside Noel and Porter in 1957

Museum

The Société Jersiaise Museum was established at Halkett House in 1878 and remained there for four years. It is by no means clear from the Société's own history what arrangement they had with the Ramie family, who would appear to have owned the house at that time. The first mention of a museum in the official records of the Société in its annuial bulletin comes in 1875, with the offer of coins found at Rozel for 'the museum'. In August of that year a committee, headed by Société president Philippe Langlois, is formed to work towards the creation of a museum and library, and in April 1876 the search is on for 'a suitable room'.

The Société only had 24 active members at the time and there is no mention in the minutes of its quarterly and annual meetings about how this room is to be funded. The 1877 Bulletin reported that the museum would soon be open and that the committee was actively occupied with the necessary preparations. The bulletin included a catalogue of the museum's initial collection, a note that it had been established at Halkett House, but was only open by appointment.

It is possible that the then owner of Halkett House had offered the Société a room free of charge for its museum, because there is no indication in the accounts of any rent being paid, although this may lie hidden in one of the payments to individuals shown in the accounts. Certainly by 1882, with the membership having grown to 72, but again static, the expense of the museum was beginning to weigh on the Société. It was described as 'a heavy charge on the budget'. Perhaps with the sale of the house by the Ramie family to the Bisson brothers the arrangement with the Société changed.

Other Société documents reveal a payment of £12 for illuminating the premises during the centenary celebrations of the Battle of Jersey, out of annual income of only £200.

The following year the museum was transferred to premises in nearby Morier Lane.

No 6 King Street was mostly used by drapers from 1830 to 1918, with a short interval when James Hurdon ran a pharmacy there.


Chronology

  • 1834 - Ramie and Co, drapers
  • 1841 - Charles Ramie, draper
  • 1851 - James Hurdon, chemist
  • 1861 - Philip Dumaresq, draper
  • 1871 - Mary Ann Le Maistre, draper with son Philip
  • 1880 - Philip Le Maistre, draper
  • 1885, 1890 - C J and W Bisson, tailors and drapers
  • 1900 - W Bisson, tailor and draper
  • 1903, 1912 - Dunsford Ltd, drapers
  • 1919 - St John Ambulance Association
  • 1921-2000 - Woolworth, opened in April 1921
  • 2010 - New Look


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