St Peter's Valley

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What's your street's story? - St Peter's Valley


StPValleyShop.jpg

The house and shop which became the Victoria Hotel


This article is based on a 2013 presentation in Jersey Archive's What's your street's story? series


St Peter’s Valley is a rural setting with streams running through it that has been a vital source of fresh water. The mills in the valley date from as early as the 13th century and notable families have occupied many of the properties in the area for many years.

Tesson Mill

The 1274 Extente of revenues payable to the King talks about the mills, mentioning Tesson Mill as being owned by Guillaume de Chenny. The other mills in the valley include de Quetivel, Gargate, Tostin and Gigoulande, which date from a similar period.

Tesson Mill is also mentioned in an interesting case in the Assize Roll of 1309. A boy was found drowned in the stream leading to the mill and Raulina, the wife of Nicolas Le Desnee, was suspected of his murder. She took sanctuary for 15 days, but in the end no charge was proven.

The 1849 Godfray Map shows the mills, with Tesson owned by merchant Philip Pellier. Emotions were high at that time, with bread riots breaking out as a result of the high price of bread. It was reported that at Tesson Mill a crowd gathered and were heard to chant:’Cheaper bread or Pellier’s head’.

The property was later sold to Ernest Charles Gilley, whose family ran the mill for a number of years before it was taken over by the Jersey New Waterworks Company.

It was then no longer used as a mill, but during the German Occupation it was brought back into service to increase production of food. Work had to be undertaken first, because the mill had been burned out and badly reconstructed in 1909.

Tesson Mill

German power station

St Peter’s Valley was the centre of great activity during the Occupation. One building of particular interest close to Tesson Mill is the Organisation Todt power station. The Organisation Todt demanded that a cable be laid from the power station in Queen’s Road to Ronez Quarries to supply electricity. The Jersey Electricity Company protested to the Feldkommandantur, as this extra drain on energy would disrupt the fuel requirements for the winter of 1942-43, which had already been agreed.

As a result a power station was constructed in Tesson Valley. Ironically, by the time the power station was completed the Organisation Todt no longer needed it and it was handed over to the JEC to help supply electricity to the island population.

In 1960 Le Riches Stores bought the property and converted it into a mineral water factory. It is now a listed building and is used by Bel Royal Motors as a motor repair workshop. On the other side of the mill a water cooling plant used by the German power station still stands.

Watercress

Watercress used to be grown next to the mill, which led to a crime in October 1882 when Josephine Bouchard, wife of J B L’Eveille, was questioned by the Honorary Police after stealing watercress from a field occupied by M A Lesbirel. She had been caught red-handed because part of the evidence listed in the police incident book was a basket full of the leafy vegetable.

Mr Lesbirel’s watercress was obviously a highly desirable commodity because on the next page, Marie Lois, the wife of Mr Brisset, and Leonie Bouchard, were charged with the same crime. They were both sentenced to eight days hard labour, but Leonie Bouchard was freed with a reprimand in consideration of her youth and the fact that it had been her first offence.

Inns

There have been a number of drinking establishments in the valley over the years. One of the best known is the Victoria Hotel, which is now known as the Vic in the Valley. The name apparently derives from the fact that when Queen Victoria paid an informal visit to the island in 1859, she was driven through the valley and was entranced by the beauty of the area.

The Sevalle family bought the property in the 1840s and Frenchman Jean Baptiste Sevalle became the taverner. By the 1851 census he and his family were safely ensconced in the newly named Café Francais.

Ann Street Brewery bought the Victoria Hotel from Lewis Hooper Rive in 1932. It had been in the Rive family for a number of years, with Walter Thomas Rive, Lewis’s father, named as landlored in the Taverners licences for St Peter between 1899 and 1908.

The Victoria Hotel in 1909
This painting of St Peter's Valley was by Richard Principal Leitch (1826-1882), the son of the royal watercolour tutor William Leighton Leitch, who taught Queen Victoria, her daughters and her daughter-in-law Princess Alexandra for almost 20 years. The watercolour view of the valley with farm house, a stream, cows and a girl, was painted in 1860 "according to the Queen's requests", meaning that Victoria probably stipulated the subject
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