Rock Vale, as it is known today, stands in Rue de la Bergerie, Trinity, and was owned by the Picot family from the mid-19th century until it passed by marriage in the mid-20th Century to the Bisson family. It is very unusual for a house of this age in that it faces west, rather than south, as do most old Jersey farmhouses.
The house is a short distance from another Picot family property, Mayfield, which is today in the same ownership. The fields belonging to each property adjoin.
Little is know of the history of Rock Vale, which census records suggest was known as Maison Brulée in 1871, when it was occupied by Josué Picot and his wife Rachel Cabot. Josué's younger brother Jean lived in the adjoining Vale Cottage, with his widowed mother Marguerite (née Blampied).
The main house is not named in the 1881 Census, when Josué and Rachel are shown living there with four children. Vale Cottage no longer appears in the census record and Jean is shown as having moved from there to Mayfield, a single man with a lodger. He was a carpenter in 1871 but is now shown as a farmer of 27 vergees, four more than his brother. The 1891 census shows Josué, Rachel and family living in Rock Vale.
This, and architectural features of both this property and Mayfield, suggest that they were refurbished (or largely rebuilt in the case of Rock Vale) around 1880, Whereas the roadside gate pillars are engraved to reflect this at Mayfield, there are no recorded datestones for Rock Vale.
There is no mention of the property under any of its names in either of the two volumes of Joan Stevens' Old Jersey Houses, but it is believed that the part which was known as Vale Cottage in 1871 is much older than the main house. The name Maison Brulée (the burnt house) might suggest that at some time the main house was damaged by fire, but the index to the 1849 Hugh Godfray map of Jersey, which shows all properties then standing with their owners, indicates that the house was close to a place known as Rocher Brulé (burning or burnt rock).
The transition from Rocher Brulé to Rock Vale for a house redeveloped adjacent to Vale Cottage is an understandable one.
The Jersey Heritage Historic Environment Record website has this description of the property:
- 'This farm group has an impressive presence in the landscape on a road junction at the top of a valley. The house and outbuildings each retain their different historic characters with some original details remaining. This building is shown on the Richmond Map of 1795. The house is predominantly 19th century, however. It has a 1780 datestone (unseen), and an earlier house may possibly have been incorporated into the north wing. 2 storeys to west, 3 to east; 5 bays, wing to north returning east to form range of 2-storey outbuildings. Parallel to this range is further 2 storey range of outbuildings. Joining the two ranges is a range of single storey outbuildings with throughway. All form a courtyard. House front (west) elevation: slate roof, tilt-lights, rendered chimneys with moulded cornices to each gable. Walls render with ashlar effect. Windows 12 pane sashes. Boundary wall is random rubble with pierre perdu render, gate piers with pyramid tops are plain render, wrought iron gate; gateway into courtyard are ashlar stone with 'ROCK’ and 'VALE' incised in coping stones. Rear (east) elevation: slate roof. Walls painted random rubble with pierre perdu render. 12 and 6 pane sashes. Gable (south) elevation: random rubble wall with pierre perdu render. Two windows to attic. Outbuildings: slate roof. Walls random rubble, pierre perdu render. Moulded kneelers to east gable of north outbuilding show evidence of earlier roof level. Windows: some historic timber; west end of north outbuildings is timber 6 panel door - upper 3 glazed with round-headed vertical panes, adjacent is 4 pane window with matching vertical panes. Central entrance, single pile. Stair to lower ground has stick balusters, square newel; stair to first floor has turned balusters and newel, swan neck handrail, panelling under; stair to attic is enclosed in tongue and groove boarding. Four-panel doors. Lower ground floor retains large flush granite fireplace. Ground floor west and first floor east rooms retain simple fire surrounds with grates.'
These photographs, which were posted on Facebook in the 2010s by the current owners, show the property after internal renovations before it was offered for rent. They show how the character of the house has been retained more or less as it was when major renovations were carried out in the 19th century, with minor alterations necessary for modern-day comfort.