Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Jersey Kitchen - Part 1

In an earlier post, I recalled the "Jersey Kitchen" mentioned in the Guide book of 1932, and how I still remembered it in the 1970s. With the construction of the new Museum, it was sadly lost, and this is the first part of a guide book, written by Ralph Mollett for the Museum, in 1957, which describes its features, and gives the Jerriais name for each.

I remember Ralph Mollett's name with affection, because there was a "Ralph Mollett Prize for Local History" at school, and my history teacher Stephen Lucas persuaded me to enter a project I had done on the neolithic sites, with maps and photos I had taken, for the prize, along with text typed up - my typing skills weren't bad, my handwriting, as now was like a drunken spider.

Of course, the prize had in fact been moribund for many, many years, and I was the only contender! But it was still nice to get something (a book token, I recall) for my passion for local history, which I still have, and it ignited the interest of other friends of mine, who also produced some good work on local history.

Here is the first part....


In 1931 the Societe Jersiaise decided to construct a reproduction of an old time Jersey Kitchen, to preserve a record for future generations of the conditions under which their forefathers lived and the furniture and utensils they used.

The Steps leading up to the doorway were removed from an original entrance ; and the dog's kennel ("câniche à tchian") under them has been copied from one still in existence.

The lintel ("le capé") over the entrance was removed from an old house at Beaumont the initials cut in it being "N.H." and the date 1651.

The wooden door is called "l'us et le contre-us", the "contre-us" being the small 10-inch side-piece, which is only .opened when furniture or extra-large articles are taken in.

The two flaps are known as "deux battants" and the little glass peephole is called "le dget." When the lower flap is shut, it keeps the children indoors and the animals out.

The Halberd at the entrance was used by householders who owed "service de garde", an old feudal service due from about 150 houses on the King's Fiefs in the Parishes of Saint Martin, Saint Saviour and Grouville. The Halberdiers had to attend the opening of the Land Court (Assise d'Heritage) twice a year, as well as trials, executions, and other public-punishments.

Attention is directed to the old oak Door leading into the Kitchen (1603). It contains no less than twelve panels of most attractive design. It is hung on pintles, not hinges.

Close to this door in the passage is a Sampler ("un canevas"). Samplers containing the alphabet, the numerals, and mottoes with various decorative devices had to be worked and finished by every young girl before 9 years old, a practice found useful later when marking linen and' clothing with the owner's initials.

The Fireplaces ("les acres") in both Kitchen and Bedroom have come from Don Farm, St. John. The Kitchen fireplace bears a shield with the initials "N.R.", and S.P.D., and the date 1673. An old style beehive oven ("un fou") has been constructed in the wall at the back of the fireplace.

The opening of the oven is closed with a hard wooden door ("l'étoupon") and was sealed with fresh cowdung.

The iron swinging bracket ("la cranne") with its adjustable hangers ("les cros" or "les crémilliéthes") for supporting the pot ("la chaudgièthe") or kettle ("le ticlye") over the fire is an interesting feature in these old open fireplaces.

The tripod ("le trepid") which, by way of paradox, is usually found with four legs, is used for supporting the cooking utensils.

Owing to lack of space we were unable to erect "la côniéthe", a cupboard for the fuel consisting of firewood and dried "vraic" (seaweed).

Most cooking was done by boiling.

The stone niches alongside the fireplaces, known as "les bouonnelles" or "bouonnaises", were used to hold lamps, tinderboxes, food, and other articles requiring dry storage. In some cases the niches have doors of wood.

The bread rack ("le râclyi") is an original removed from a farm house.

The cresset lamp -("le cresset") consists of two parts ; the inner cup held the oil and the wick ; the lower tray caught the drippings which must have been considerable. The lamp hung from a "valet" or "villain", which by a series of notches permitted the lamp to be raised or lowered as required.

A bottle barometer may be seen on the mantle-shelf, also an hour glass.

The glass rollers were brought to the Island by sailors ; their origin is unknown, but they were used to roll out pastry and as ornaments.

A long metal box may be seen on the wall ; this was used to contain tallow candles ; also a hand churn ("selle à tuthet") and wooden bowls ("des bolles à beurre") to work the butter into shape.

A tinder box ("tondre-box") containing flint ("pierre à 'feu) and steel ("le fiêset") and tinder ("tondre") for making a light was used instead of matches in those days.

No comments: