Alphington

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Jersey houses:

Alphington House, Grands Vaux


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This is one of two houses in St Saviour to bear this name while in the ownership of the Bois family


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Property name

Alphington House

Previous names

  • Moulin de Pol Farm - from 1947
  • Maison du Moulin du Pol
  • Maison du Pol Farm
  • Vale Farm
  • Valley Farm

Location

Mont de la Rosiere, St Saviour

Type of property

Farm group dating to 18th century

Families associated with the property

Datestones

  • 17 IEN ♥♥ IAH 53 for Jean Esnouf and Jeanne Ahier, married in Trinity in 1749
  • FB ♥♥ NFV 1839 [1] for Francois Bois and Nancy Fauvel. François Bois moved to Jersey from Bricqueville-sur-Mer, near Bréhal, Normandy, and married Nancy Fauvel in St Helier in 1834. Family sources give the date of his arrival as a boy in Jersey, with a younger brother who later returned to the family farm in Normandy, as 1810. Nancy Fauvel was born in Grouville in 1807.
  • FdeLB ♥♥ EMP 1958 for Francis de Lisle Bois and Elizabeth Maude Pearce
2000

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

A good example of an historic farm group, mid-18th century-19th century with earlier remains (now sub-divided into residential properties). The former farm group comprises a farmhouse with integral dower cottage (now called Alphington House), an adjoining range of outbuildings (originally a cider press-room, cow stables and potato loft - now called Alphington Cottage), and two detached working buildings to the rear: a former stable with hayloft above (now called The Stable), and a Dutch Barn formerly incorporating pigsties, farm vehicle shed with hay loft above (now called The Granary).

Earlier names for the property were Valley Farm and Maison de Pol Farm (the farm being situated opposite Le Moulin de Pol). Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795. The principal building (Alphington House) has a mid-18th century appearance, although likely started as a single-storey cottage with a new façade and upper floor added around 1753 - when the dated lintel above the front door was added.

Old Jersey Houses

Although the author missed many Jersey houses with confirmed features from the 17th century and earlier from the first volume of her book, covering the period up to 1700, she included Alphington House because 'it seems likely that there was an earlier house on the site.

"It seems likely that the 18th-century facade masks a transformation from a humble single-storey building to a fairly imposing exterior, so familiar all over the island, but from the outside one could not detect this."

Further information

This history of the property was prepared by Giles Bois, whose parents owned the house

There have been two houses of this name in St Saviour. The original is in La Chasse Brunet at Five Oaks. The houses were in the ownership of the Bois family and the name was transferred to this property in Grands Vaux, when the family moved back there, taking the house name with them, in 1958.

Francis John Bois was born in this house and left in his teens (with his mother and brothers), buying the house at Five Oaks later in his career as a solicitor. His son, Francis de Lisle Bois, was born at Waverly Terrace in the same year, and inherited both properties from his father and later moved the family back to Grands Vaux. Within the family these two houses are distinguished by being referred to as 'Old' and 'New' Alphington.

It is a classic example of a house on which a datestone can be found which gives a completely erroneous impression of ownership of the property at the date shown on the stone, the earliest date given most likely being that of a reconstruction and expansion.

Interior - 2000

Earlier house?

Joan Stevens included it in Volume 1 of Old Jersey Houses. She concluded the entry by quoting the owner “Every generation has left its signature on this house”, the stages of development are clearly visible in the stonework and suggest a single celled and storied dwelling, possibly with animal pens at the back connected by blocked up doors, that was extended (most likely before 1753) into a typical Jersey range.

Later development is visible at the back, with the addition of a dower where the first floor becomes an elevated ground floor on the rising hill, above the bakehouse. The construction is in locally sourced diorite and a couple of discarded pieces of millstone were used at the front. The chimneys are in brick and are unlikely to be original, as can be seen from inside the roof space, with a succession of stone reconstructions. Most likely they are from the mid-18th century reconstruction or later, on earlier footings.

When the cow stables and hayloft were added to the domestic dwelling and a laundry window cut into the front wall, a marriage stone, for Francis de Lisle Bois and Elizabeth Maude Pearce was added above this window, but in 2001 or later this window was removed and it is not known if this stone is still in situ.

Censuses

The family appears in the 19th century censuses, and they are shown as living in Maufant, where they were farming. François Bois’ son (François Jean) died young, leaving a widow and three sons. They were moved into the dower at the back of the house and then moved to Town, for the boys’ education, leaving François Bois snr., at the farm.

Later François snr’s grandson, Francis John Bois, lived at 14 Waverley Terrace, then Waverley Lodge, before buying Alphington House at Five Oaks in 1908, to which the family moved some five years later, remaining there until the house was sold in 1958. Due to the family’s strong public association with the house name (with two generations in public service) it was decided to transfer the name to the original family farm at Grands Vaux, which in official records during the Occupation was listed as Vale Farm.

Known by the Bois family as the 'Dutch barn' - 2000

Origins and evolution

Grands Vaux is a network of valleys, with branches off a main valley, with some minor spurs. The headlands between these branches and spurs, and the main valley were sometimes subject to quarrying. Most of these branches have streams running down the middle joining a main stream down the central valley and feeding the five water mills (each with its own mill pond) to Town Mills and beyond into the Town, with Moulin de Pol being the fourth northwards.

The House was probably built in abandoned ancient quarry workings against Mont de la Rosière, a headland that separates the main valley from a branch on its east side. Before 2001 there was evidence of additional quarry steps of unknown age on the opposite side of this branch, on the boundary with Les Ruettes Farm (which was also acquired by François Bois snr, or by his son George).

The press room and cattle stable range were built across much of the opening to this side-valley, apart from space left for the driveway into the farmyard from Les Ruettes, and a slight slope below this side-quarry. The farmyard slopes away from Mont de la Rosière, towards the brook at its eastern side. An internal wall may have dated to the Tudor period and there was a peculiarity with the back wall separating the eastern front room from the former bakehouse behind, where the slope of the wall on the bakehouse side suggests this internal wall was once the front wall of an earlier building.

One or all of these ancient and substantial internal walls may have been demolished after the house was sold in 2001. A large niche in the Western gable on the ground floor may once have been a window facing Paul Mill, before the hill to Victoria Village was built. The house was probably originally free-standing, or with its back against a quarry face, then adapted at the back to the filling in of part of the quarry to make the bottom of the hill, resulting in the appearance of having being built into the hill.

The main house consisted of two front rooms separated by a hallway, with a long room behind that served as a ground floor cellar (against the hill), and was originally animal pens or a store-room, and the deeper bakehouse. Above this floor were two bedrooms at the front and a dower cottage at the back, with two attic bedrooms above these. From the appearance of stonework at the front, it would appear the house started as a single-story one-room cottage, west of the front door, but there may have been another building further back to the east, later incorporated into the main house, when it was extended into a two-room range, with work rooms behind, with the upper floor added then or at a later date (by 1753).

An additional attached range, most likely added by François Bois, but if so, replacing a similar range shown on the Richmond Map (1795), contained the Cider Press room and cow stables on the ground floor (separated by a solid internal wall, to allow flooding from the brook at the top of the farmyard to flush out the stables, without flooding the press room) with a long potato loft above both.

The style of construction of this range is about right for the date over the door, but it may be earlier. The press room was cut through to the main house and incorporated into the dwelling in about 1947, and the cow stalls and loft in 1958. This additional range extended across much of the opening to the branch from the main valley, leaving enough room for the farm track from Les Ruettes and an equal additional width to the foot of the quarry at the side.

1833 contract of sale

Detached outbuildings

Behind the 1839 extension were stables for two horses with a hayloft above, almost touching its back wall at one corner. Both floors were on split levels, to accommodate a dramatic change in level from the farmyard to a smaller yard at the back of the press house and side entrance to the bake house.

This last feature suggests some reworking of the land surfaces previously, although it is not clear if this lower yard was the original land-level when the house was built, with the slope on the farmyard being the product of road building on the hill (along with the sudden rise in level at the back of the bake house and behind the main house, stopping abruptly at the Press/Cattle/Potato Loft range), or whether the farmyard slope is natural and in the bedrock (a former meadow slope), with this lower level of the bakehouse and its yard being the product of earlier quarrying.

A building is also shown on the Richmond Map in approximately this location, but this may have been rebuilt on a slightly different footprint. A slit between these buildings would produce a loud piping sound, like a pipe organ, when the wind was in a particular quarter and was blocked up. This led on to the upward sloping farmyard leading to the brook that passed under the house, and to what the family wrongly called ‘The Dutch Barn’ - a distinctive type of Jersey barn with vertical wooden planks treated with pitch, on the first floor, between two granite gables with brick quoins.

The ground floor was granite front and back, containing pigsties and a vehicle shed, with a hayloft above. There was another larger vehicle shed nearby and a brick floor found near the settlement-sump for the brook indicates another building there (probably a wash-house). The ‘Dutch Barn’ and the second vehicle shed were demolished by new owners after 2001, the former replaced with a new building cut more deeply into the side of Mont de la Rosière.

An interesting feature in the top bedroom at the east is a window in the gable facing the mill, which has a deep rendered sill with a bracket to take ropes, and signs that something heavy was routinely lifted through this window. It is likely that this was to help the miller at Paul Mill, providing additional storage for bags of flour.

Fief and vingtaines

The property is in the fief de Grainville, although part is in the Fief du Roi (or de la Reign). The main house is in the Vingtaine of Maufant, with part of the garden in Sous L’Église. A stream running under the farmyard and cattle stalls, and diagonally under the front garden is these vingtaines’ common boundary. A vingtaine boundary stone is located at the south-west corner of the property, where Les Ruettes joins the valley road, with 'MF' inscribed on one face and 'SLG'.

The property is boarded by Mont de La Rosière and Paul Mill to the west, Les Ruettes Farm to the east and Château Clairval and Beau Vallon (on or beyond Mont de la Rosière) to the north.

Built in front of the headland separating the main valley from one of its branches, the latter is a run of six or so water meadows, with pasture and côtils on the west side, gradually ascending behind the house in two meadows and continuing in higher meadows across other properties as far as an artificial land-bridge at Rue du Ponterrin. It then continues a little north. Originally it looked straight down the main valley, its meadows and the mill stream towards Grand Val Mill, but since the building of the Grands Vaux Reservoir after the Occupation, it has a spectacular lakeside view, with the top of the dam in the distance and hills rising to the west, east and south around the reservoir and beyond, and close by to the north.

In front of the house was originally another meadow and in the late 19th and early 20th century there were greenhouses, which were removed in 1947, when a garden was established. The small meadow across the road at the bottom of Les Ruettes was also acquired under separate contract. Into the 1960s the land was pooled with that of Les Ruettes Farm, to be farmed by a tenant who lived there, and later by family members, until the sale of Alphington House, after which the lands of these two farms were separated again.

Quarries

At the north end of the two meadows attached to the property are two large quarries, one on the border with Chateau Clairval belonging to Alphington House, the other (filled with water) belonging to Chateau Clairval. One of these was used to extract stone for the building of Highfield by Josué Brayne, which stands on the heights overlooking Les Ruettes, on a hill to the east (although no doubt stone was also used from the quarry the other side of Highfield). These meadows formally belonging to Alphington House are now attached to Chateau Clairval.

After its sale out of the family, the property was divided into a number of properties and the house substantially altered internally, and only the original 18th century dwelling is now called Alphington House, with other parts of the property going by different names. All of the photographs on this page were taken before it was sold and redeveloped.

Ownership history

  • 1824 (9 October) Clément Jeune by purchase from Jean Esnouf.
  • 1833 (15 January) Marie Jeune by inheritance from her father Clément Jeune
  • 1833 (20 April) François Baudains from his wife Marie Jeune.
  • 1833 (20 April) Jean Mourant on behalf of François Bois from François Baudains.
  • 1835 (19th September) François Bois (by ‘resignation’ from Jean Mourant)
  • 1876 Francis John Bois (from his grandfather).
  • 1924 Francis de Lisle Bois (from his father).

Notes and references

  1. Wrongly given as 1819 in Old Jersey Houses
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