Oak Farm

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The datestone at Oak Farm - JNC MGB 1747 - refers to the owners at the time, Jean Nicolle and Marie Gibaut, who married in St Lawrence in 1741. It would suggest that the mid-18th century changes to the property were carried out for them and that this date marks them. What is unusual, and puzzling, is that there appears to be a second line of characters on the stone, which have either worn away or have been defaced

Oak Farm, Ville ès Gazeaux, St Lawrence, previously known as Les Carrières, presumably a reference to the nearby China Quarries, was known in the 19th century as Bigrel Farm, after its occupants, the Bigrel (or Begurel) family, who first settled in Trinity in the mid 17th century, having arrived in the island from France, probably as Huguenot refugees.

Apart from noting this connection to the Biguerel family and a datestone in the roadside wall inscribed ANC MGB 1747 (now known to be JNC MGB), Joan Stevens has little to say about the history of the property in her first volume of Old Jersey Houses.

She believed that it was altered substantially in the mid-18th century. Further renovations in the late 20th century revealed a second interior round arch.

The main feature of the property is a benetier, with a sophisticated drainage system running under the floor, across the garden and road to a meadow beyond. The staircase, added during the 18th century is described by Mrs Stevens as one of the finest of its period to survive in Jersey.

She mentions the house again in the second volume of Old Jersey Houses, noting that its owner was shown as P Bigrel on the 1849 Godfray map. Having previously believed that the east wing may have been of later vintage than the main house, she reverses this view. She comments that the house has the most complete stair and panelling of any house outside the town of St Helier.

It is clear from the history we have been able to piece together here, and in the accompanying family history that the Bigrel family did not build Oak Farm - that happened much earlier than their occupation - but merely gave it their family name for a period. So what it was called before then is a matter for conjecture.

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