What's your street's story? - Grands Vaux
This article is based on a presentation in the Jersey Heritage What’s your street’s story? series
Grands Vaux is one of the principal valleys running from the north to the south of Jersey. The area is now home to a number of houses and also the location of the Grands Vaux Reservoir. The stream that runs through the valley has shaped the history and people of Grands Vaux.
From the 11th to the 19th centuries working watermills were located on the banks of the 12 main streams in Jersey with at least 38 separate mills in existence. A few of the mills were called back into service during the German Occupation.
The mills were essential to the local community who would rely on them to grind their corn to make bread. They were also significant sources of revenue. Each mill would have belonged to a Fief owner, the Monarch or the Church. The tenants living on the Fief would be obliged to grind their corn at the mill and also to render service, either labour or materials, for the upkeep of the mill and the buildings.
On the Godfray Map of 1849 there are three major watermills located near what is now Grands Vaux Reservoir – Stephen’s or Malassis Mill, Grand Val or Grands Vaux Mill and Paul or Louis Paul Mill.
Malassis Mill, which was once located to the south of the reservoir but no longer exists, was purchased by the Jersey New Waterworks Company in 1947. The company purchased other land and properties in the area prior to the building of the dam which started in 1948 and was completed by 1953.
The mill was owned by both the Cornish and Cory families in the 20th century and was purchased by John Cory from Edwin Elias Le Bas in 1905. Edwin had inherited the mill from Elie Les Bas, his grandfather, in 1904. In the 1904 contract the property is described as 'a water Mill called Le Moulin de Malassis with all of its materials of exploitation including a house, shop and outbuildings'.
Elie had owned the mill since 1866 but census records suggest that he did not actually live in or work the mill. Presumably for the Le Bas family the mill was seen as an investment.
In the 1891 census Samuel Gilley, a miller from Devon, is listed as living at the mill. Samuel lives with his wife Mary and eight children. Samuel’s testament of 1919 shows that he later became the miller at Tesson Mill.
Elie had purchased the mill from Thomas Stevens in 1866 and we can assume that this why it was known as Stephen’s Mill on the 1849 Godfray Map. Thomas had purchased the mill from Philippe Le Maistre in 1838 but by looking at records of fire insurance in the Island we can assume that he was a tenant of the property prior to this date. In May 1837 Thomas Stephens of St Helier, miller, is insuring Malassis Mill and its stock in trade for £1000.
Ownership of the mill passed through the Le Maistre and Deslandes families in the early 19th century. Prior to this date the mill was associated with the La Cloche Family who owned a number of properties and land in the Grands Vaux area.
Records from the 15th century show that the La Cloche Family first leased the mill from the Procureur of the King. In 1487 Estienne La Cloche leases the mill and agrees to repair and maintain it whilst also paying any rentes due to the sovereign. The leases are renewed by subsequent monarchs in the 16th century with Stephen La Cloche paying 12 quartiers of wheat and 4 capons of rente to the Queen each year in 1562.
In 1601 Elizabeth I granted the mill to Stephen and it remained in the possession of the La Cloche family for the next two centuries.
Malassis Mill was inherited by Reverend Jean La Cloche in 1775 from Mathieu Jean La Cloche, his father. At the same time Mathieu La Cloche, who was also Mathieu senior’s son, inherited the Moulin du Grand Val or Grands Vaux Mill. This mill was known as the King’s Great Mill in early records and was the principal mill of the Grands Vaux area.
The 1607 extente which lists rentes and services due to the Crown describes the obligations that tenants had:
‘All the Kings Majesties tenants of this parish which have any harvest of corn in the Parish owe suite to the Kings Great Mill of Grantvaulx within the Parish of St Saviour to grind all their corn at the said Mill and they which have no harvest there and have lands within the Parish should come to the Mill at least three times in the year with 2 bushells of corn (All Saints, Christmas and Easter). Every default should be paid by a quarter of a cabot of corn and they that fail which have harvests there ought to be punished by the discretion of Justice.’
Mathieu sold the mill to Charles William Le Geyt in 1776. In 1813 the old mill was rebuilt by Philippe de Carteret before he sold it to Nicolas Le Quesne in 1819. In 1876 the mill was purchased by James Baxter from Clement Auguste de Quetteville. The Baxter family lived in the mill until it was sold to Jersey New Waterworks Company in 1947, during this time it became known as Baxter’s Mill.
Grands Vaux is not only of historic interest because of its watermills – there are also a number of properties in the area with their own stories to tell. Stirling Castle and Stirling Castle Farm located opposite each other on Mont Neron were both associated with marriages that scandalised the Island.
Stirling Castle Farm is the older property with a lintel dating back to 1647 and date stone inscribed CPL SCL 1766. The initials on the stone stand for Charles Lempriere and Susanne Collas the parents of John Lempriere – author of Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary.
The 1647 lintel has a shield and the initials of MD and E, thought to stand for Matthieu Dorey and Elizabeth Roissier, who was widow of Jacques Pipon when she married Matthieu. Elizabeth’s daughter from her first marriage, Marie, was the centre of an Island scandal in 1649 when, on 8 August she married Thomas Poingdestre. Marie was aged around 11 at the time and Thomas was 36.
Stirling Castle, opposite the traditional Jersey granite Stirling Castle Farm, is possibly one of the most unusual buildings in the Island. The Castle was built on land in the Jardin de Bas en la Valette purchased by Edward Stirling, a retired civil servant of the East India Company, from James Boreham in May 1847.
Edward had already acquired what was to become Stirling Castle Farm in December 1846 and it is possible that he lived in the property while the Castle was constructed.
Edward was a 53-year-old bachelor when he moved to Jersey, his final years in the civil service had been blighted by ill-health and failing sight. It must have come as a surprise to his family and friends when, on 21 September 1850, he married Anna Isabella Glascock who was only 23 – thirty years younger than him.
Unfortunately Edward and Anna’s marriage did not blossom and by 1851, less that a year after their nuptials, Edward instituted formal proceedings for a divorce on the grounds of adultery. At the time Jersey did not have a civil divorce law so the long drawn out scandalous case was heard before the Ecclesiastical Court. The case was still unresolved when Anna died in 1859.
Edward continued to live at Stirling Castle until his death in December 1873. In the 1871 census he was registered as blind and was living with Sophia Morris, his secretary/manager; Pauline King, the cook; and 19-year-old Anne Ryan, the housemaid.
Edward died in 1873 and in his testament he leaves all his household furniture and effects to Barbé Metz also know as Miss Mars. The testament contains a comprehensive list of furniture and household goods including a piano, 7 mahogany chairs, flower stand and pepper box. It also lists 128 books left to Miss Metz which include Coleridge’s Poetical Works and a Narrative of the Arctic Land Expedition. Edward left his immovable estate, including Stirling Castle, to his nephew Charles having already given Miss Metz Clarendon House in Clarendon Road and 2, Tudor Place in Midvale Road in 1863.