A photograph in the Jerripedia collection of a tearoom, captioned 'Old House, Laurens Tearoom' proved something of a mystery for some time, until a further copy of the photograph turned up captioned Priory, Devil's Hole, and everything has appeared to fall into place.
The two pictures are certainly of the same house and the Street View of the Priory today, although it is a much enlarged property, show clearly that the main building on the right, its facade beautifully restored, is also the same. The centre first-floor window, offset to the right of the entrance door's centre-line, is the key identifying feature.
Histories of the Priory Inn do not mention its Laurens connections. In his Historical Hotels and Inns of Jersey, historian Philip Ahier says that the Arthur family, long established in the area, opened the Priory as a cafe before the First World War, and then sold out to C Le Masurier in about 1954. But he also notes that the Priory was owned by Nicolas Arthur as early as 1851.
The story of Devil's Hole is dealt with elsewhere in Jerripedia, but the main interest in the Priory itself has always been how it got this name. It is suggested that the original house may have been built on the site of an ancient priory, or that it was built of stone taken from a nearby derelict priory, possibly the nearby La Falaise.
However, in her book Old Jersey Houses Joan Stevens wrote:
- "There is no documentary proof that there ever was a priory here, and it is most unlikely that there was, as all the priories elsewhere in the island are fully documented. It is, however, possible that there was a chapel here before the reformation; although a great number of chapels are known to have existed, none is recorded for St Mary."
So the origin of the property's name remains a mystery, as does its time as Laurens Tearoom, unless any Jerripedia reader knows better. If you do, please contribute to this page.