Sous Les Bois
La Rue des Bouillons, Rozel, Trinity.
The historian, Miss Jean Arthur, believed this to have been a medieval hall-house, which will have had livestock on the ground floor and the family living on the first floor. The house is relatively unique in having not been visibly enlarged or greatly altered since the likely date of construction. There would probably have been a round arch in the south facade, which has been replaced, and the roof has been raised and new chimney stacks built, probably at the same time. The windows have also been raised by about one foot but their matching, chamfered, ornately lintelled stonework, remains unchanged. The ancient Handois Manor, in St Lawrence, is of a similar size and age, as is the Langlois house at Hamptonne Country Life Museum in that parish, both of which were also hall-houses.
Situated on the Fief de la Grucheterrie, surrounded by de Gruchy land, Sous Les Bois was probably originally owned by a cadet son of that family, who died without surviving issue. It will therefore have returned to the senior, La Chasse, branch and been inherited in due course, by a junior branch among their descendants. This surmise agrees well with the family`s genealogy. Guillaume de Gruchy (born about 1465) was a cadet son who, living in Rozel Vingtaine, owed the church measures of wheat in 1523. He and Collette Machon, his wife, had no surviving issue. Two generations later, another junior son, Noel de Gruchy (1535-1593) had issue by his wife, Jeanne Langlois of St Lawrence, an elder son named Matthieu. He was Inspecteur des Chemins, Rozel, in 1592 and Vingtenier from 1593. From Matthieu and his wife, Perronelle du Feu, were descended the de Gruchys of Sous Les Bois until 1815, when the property was sold to Philippe Larbalestier, who was presumably the vendor`s son-in-law of that name.
Marie de Gruchy (1779-1863), who married in 1809 Philippe Larbalestier of Trinity, was the daughter of the 1815 vendor. Their daughter Susanne, born in 1815, married in 1843 at Trinity, John Le Cocq, son of Nicolas, of the same parish.
The 1861 census shows them living at Sous les Bois with the widowed Mary de Gruchy and their children. Ten years later John, a mason, and Susan were still there with children John (27), Susan, Charles and Mary, and 75-year-old Marie Larbalestier, described as John's aunt. She was more likely to have been his wife`s aunt, Marie Rachel Larbalestier (1796-1876), who was of the correct age and known to have been still living.
A second household at Sous les Bois had Thomas Perrée as head with his wife Jane Le Cocq and their five children.
By 1891 John Le Cocq, now widowed, was still at the house, with his son John as head of household, married to Ann. The three of them were still there ten years later, and the 1901 census shows a Larbalestier family living close by at Les Puits. They were Philip and Adelaide and their children Philippe, Ernest, Stanley and Nelson.
By 1911 the son Philippe , who had just married Annie Eleanor Nicolle, had move into Sous Les Bois, where they farmed and raised their family.
In 1941 when identity cards were issued to all islanders in the second year of the German Occupation, Philippe and Annie had four children, Philip Ernest (1912- ), Annie Eleanor (1915- ), Phyllis (1918- ) and Eileen Maud (1923- ). There is a suggestion that the property was taken over by the Germans later in the Occupation, but we have not been able to substantiate this.
There is a gable stone inscribed "TDG 1683" for Thomas de Gruchy (1654- ) and a gatepost inscribed "IDG 1743", probably for Jean de Gruchy (1712- ) or his father of the same name. Unfortunately, the "I" has been over-painted in the 20th century as a "T", something that will hopefully be corrected in due course.
The property is now owned by the National Trust for Jersey, having been given to them by Mr Philip Larbalestier. Unfortunately there is no information about the property on the Trust's website.