Friday, 11 March 2016

Guide Book: Promenade in the Town and Environs of St. Helier.

As we come towards the end of the Guide Book, it is interesting to look at St Helier with a whistle-stop tour.and see that in 1834 (the same date as the map above), our book talks of the "beautiful expanse of St. Aubin's bay, surrounded by its range of finely wooded hills, sprinkled with villages and cottages".

The list of foodstuffs is also fascinating, not just for the prices, which are difficult to compare, but for what was on offer. There's quite a variety. As well as plain "Green Tea", there is "Gunpowder Tea", which is a lso a kind of green tea from Zhejiang province, China. As the name implies,Gunpowder tea is made up of leaves hand-rolled into tiny pellets. Reading the list - with all the good and drink available, makes me rather peckish!

"Excellent grapes reared under glass, but without artificial heat" are also of interest. In Jersey Illustrated, a 1906 trade directory written by E T Nicolle, there is an article on the Caesarean Nurseries. This was a major establishment in St Saviour, open from at least the mid 19th Century until the beginning of the 20th century, and in 1906 were run by Herman Becker. The article notes:

"To enumerate the whole of the departments of flori- and frugiculture in which Mr Becker engages would take up considerably more space than is at present at our disposal. We may note, however, that he specially prides himself on his success as a pear grower, in which line his stock of named sorts numbers over 100. He also grows about 200 varieties of apples, together with many different kinds of peaches and grapes, nectarines, strawberries, tomatoes and other fruits in proportion."

Guide Book: Promenade in the Town and Environs of St. Helier.
To Visitors.—Having in the preceding pages given the stranger a thorough description of St. Helier's and its various institutions, we shall now proceed to treat him with a Promenade in Town and its environs, and as we walk along, we shall take occasional opportunities of throwing in some other useful information, relative to the prices of provisions, the rent of houses, and the etc. etc.

I love
To lead the voyager by breezy hills
And soft retiring dales, by snugly lawns,
Bold headlands dark with umbrage of the groves,
By towns and villages, and mansions fair,
And rocks magnificent.

We shall suppose that a stranger arrives in the Island, and after having domesticated himself in one or other of the Hotels or boarding Houses, or in furnished Apartments, he is desirous of seeing in as short a time as possible, all that is worthy of being seen.

The Town will not occupy many hours; he will see a thriving bustling place, with good and well furnished shops; he will be arrested by the Town Church, with its plain square tower, and if he enter it, he will see a tablet erected to the memory of Major Pierson, who fell at the head of his troops in defending the Island from the descent of the French in 1781.

He will, no doubt, walk through the Market-place, and, if we mistake not, will admire its convenient structure; and, if he has come from a Northern country, he will be charmed with the fine display of fruits, vegetables and flowers, and not a little amused with the fantastic head dress of the Norman women ; and if he walk to the Eastern extremity of the Town, he will find handsome streets, that would do honour to any metropolis.

The terrace, the crescent, and in the same locality, the very neat little theatre, with its handsome Greek portico and pediment ; and St. James's Church, a pretty modern gothic structure. All this will be accomplished in two hours, and if he has an hour to spare before dinner, let him occupy it in obtaining an appetite, by walking up the road that lies under Fort Regent, where he will have a beautiful view from the height, of the Town, Harbour, and Elizabeth Castle; there the eye ranges over the beautiful expanse of St. Aubin's bay, surrounded by its range of finely wooded hills, sprinkled with villages and cottages.

The stranger having now been three hours on his feet, will sit down to dinner with a tolerable appetite - and if it be the season, he will probably have placed before him, a John Dory with Lobster sauce, which, with as good roast beef as any in Old England, and an abundance of excellent fruit and vegetables, may convey to him a favourable impression of the produce of Jersey. After dinner is usually an interlude, when one rather likes to talk, or skim over the pages of a book, than exert one's self.

The stranger will, no doubt, ring the bell, and ask if there be a stranger's Guide in Jersey. Yes, there is one published at the Royal Saloon, which contains every thing a stranger ought to know. So the Guide through Jersey being brought, and the stranger tossing over with a smack, as nice a glass of claret as a man could wish to drink, will open the Guide just at this place and read.

Economy Of Living In Jersey.—Why, says he, that is just what I want to know; and he reads as follows :— Butcher's meat, per pound of nearly eighteen ounces, sixpence'to sixpence half-penny. Butter, on the average from April to October, tenpence; from October to March, one shilling. Eggs, during the Summer months, fivepence and sixpence per dozen ; in Winter, from sevenpence to one shilling. Milk, twopence per quart. Bread, from one penny one farthing to twopence per pound. Black tea, such as would sell in England at seven shillings to eight shillings,—three shillings and fourpence. Green tea, four shillings to six shillings. Gunpowder tea, six shillings and sixpence. Best loaf sugar, sixpence per pound. Moist sugar, from threepence to fourpence. Currants, best Turkey, fourpence halfpenny. Geese, two shillings to two shillings and sixpence each. Turkies, three shillings to four shillings and sixpence. Vegetables very abundant and cheap. Best cognac brandy, seven shillings per gallon. Cette, three shillings to three shillings and sixpence. Hollands, three shillings and sixpence. Best Jamaica rum, four shillings to five shillings per gallon. Best port and sherry wines, twenty-five shillings per dozen. Grave and Sauterne, from ten shillings to thirty shillings. Marsalla, twelve shillings. Clarets, from fifteen to fifty shillings. Good Burgundy, twenty-five shillings. Vin du pays, six shillings per dozen.

By the time the stranger has read and pondered over this list, and probably come to a conclusion, that Jersey is the spot for a man with a small income, he feels inclined for another stroll; and if the weather be fine, he will do well to look at the outside of the Town ; and first then, we recommend him to walk as before, towards the East, and asking for St. Saviour's road, turn into it; and by this road he will be able to make a circuit of the Town.

No one can walk along St. Saviour's road without being infinitely pleased with the environs of St. Helier's; fine wooded banks surround the Town on all sides, and on the slopes and at their feet, pretty houses, combining all the advantage of Town and Country are seen scattered, with their excellent walled gardens,—and many of them with their green houses and vineries; and bythe-bye, it may be as well to inform the stranger, that warm seasons, excellent grapes reared under glass, but without artificial heat, may be bought at sixpence or sevenpen per pound,—and out-door grapes, of good quality, as low two or three pence.

After proceeding about a mile along the St. Saviour's which all this time keeps upon a level, the road begins ascend, turning a trifle to the right; but if the stranger wishes only to make a circuit of the Town, he will turn to the left in place of ascending the hill, and this road will bring him back to St. Helier's, and will show him the growing improvement of the Town, in the number of new detached houses, which are thickly scattered on both sides of the road.

This promenade will occupy him about an hour and a half or two hours; and the stranger will now have acquired a general idea of the Town and its environs, and be able in some degree, to make up his mind as to pros and cons.

It is not improbable that during the afternoon's walk, the stranger, who possibly thinks of remaining some time in St. Helier's, may have made enquiries at some houses which are to let, as to rent and accommodation, and he will, no doubt, find the information he has previously received, correct, as to the proportionaly greater expence of house rent, than of living in Jersey.

And before conducting the reader through the Island, let us add something respecting the general advantages which Jersey presents as a residence :—these are many and important; and first of all we may mention cheapness of living.

This, in comparison with London, is great, in almost every article of sustenance; and, in comparison with the English counties, the saving is chiefly confined to exciseable articles, and to the absence of taxation.

Those who have been accustomed to keep house in London, and to pay rent, taxes and rates, incident to house keeping there, admit, that in the Channel Islands, they can live, equally well upon one half the income; and that those who have been accustomed to an English country life or to an English country Town, where, generally speaking, meat, bread, butter, milk, poultry and agricultural produce of all kinds, are scarcely higher than in Jersey, find that there is at least one fourth part saved by living in either of the Channel Islands, owing to the low price of exciseable commodities, such as groceries of all kinds, and wines and spirits.

To all these advantages we would only add, the known healthiness of the Island, and the facilities it affords for sea bathing, which, although not so great as might be expected, are, nevertheless, such as will not be lost sight of by those whose health or inclinations dispose them towards it.

We have now completely done with the town of St. Helier's, shall now proceed forthwith through the other eleven parishes, taking them in rotation as they appear on the map, noticing, as we pass along, the particularities and peculiarities of each place.

The circumference of the Island, following the sinuosities of the coast, is forty-seven miles and a half; it is indented by bays of different dimensions and depths, the most celebrated of which are St. Aubin's, the mouth of which is nearly three miles across—St. Ouen's, which lies on the Western shores of the Island, and whose dimensions are still greater— Bouley, St. Catherine's and Grouville bays ; but besides these larger bays, the whole coast presents numerous small, and often singularly beautiful bays, coves and inlets, such as Rozel or St Brelade, and these, during the Summer months, are the favourite resorts of the very many pic-nic parties that frequent them.

In describing the general appearance of the Island of Jersey, one would say, that wooded fertility is its chief characteristic; from whatever height one looks down upon it, it presents the effect of one continuous orchard; and in walking or driving, across the country, the stranger will find that the orchard is not its only produce, but that there is every where an under crop of luxuriant vegetation.

The burdened fruit trees, the small enclosures, the general fertility, the tiny streams, and the numerous and substantial farm houses, could not but remind one of the many of the fertile and more level parts of Switzerland, were it not, that we occasionally catch through the orchard vistas, a glimpse of the blue and tremulous waters, that every where gird the landscape.


Christine Finn said...

Very interesting, thanks for posting. My grandparents moved to Jersey from London just after WW1, and I wonder if it was as cheap then? I hadn't thought about it, but maybe that was the reason for the move. I thought it was simply because it was a popular place for retired army officers (my grandfather was a retired Captain).

James said...

"Excellent grapes reared under glass, but without artificial heat" are also of interest.

A year or two ago I published a diary of a visit by members of the Bertram family of Salem, Massachusetts to Jersey in 1883. The author recorded a visit to Mr Bashford's greenhouses "just outside St Helier", one of which was no less than 900 feet in length, and Bashford had sent some 5 tons of grapes to London in the first six months of that year. My understanding is that the glasshouses ran between where Gordon Le Breton Close is now and Rue des Pres.

@Christine Finn: I suspect that Jersey after World War One was cheap. Certainly housing would have been cheap, as the 1921 Census showed Jersey's population at its lowest since 1841, at well below 50,000.