What's your street's story? - Route des Cotils, Grouville
If it were not for the occasional motorcar passing by, the experience of wandering down these two country lanes is probably much the same as it was many years ago. There are now several new houses and a large modern apartment block alongside more traditional Jersey properties, but looking northeast from Route des Côtils you can still see Mont Orgueil Castle and on either side of Rue de Fauvic there are still large expanses of fields.
Homes and farmland
In some ways this small section of the Vingtaine des Marais in Grouville has come full circle as it is now mainly an area of homes and farmland, reflecting earlier times. However, in the late 19th and through the 20th century various services were established, including shops, schools, nursing homes, hotels and the railway, all of which no longer exist.
On the Richmond Map of 1795 Route des Côtils is clearly marked and several houses can be seen, with orchards, arable and then rough land leading to the dunes near the coast. The first part of Rue de Fauvic, going east from Route des Côtils, is also discernable with some houses marked.
By the time of the Godfray Map in 1849, Route des Côtils is a well-established road being the shortest route to town from the church, without going uphill. A number of farms can be seen along this road and the site was probably chosen because it has the protection of the higher land, together with the existence of water in the form of a fountain. The map shows the names of various proprietors such as Payn, Labey, Godfray, Bertram and Filleul.
The meadows on the north side of Rue de Fauvic are known as Marais à La Cocque. After the Norman Conquest, this land passed from the Dukedom of Normandy into possession of the Crown and is still held in Royal Demesne today. As this is low-lying marshland there are fewer houses here. Those that are built by the time of the Godfray map are at the western end of Rue de Fauvic on the edge of cultivable land, sheltered from cold easterly winds by the sand dunes and with access to wells.
At the Parish Church end of Route des Côtils there is also a fountain or well. An iron door now closes off the well, but there is still a hand pump and granite trough. Above this is a granite stone inscribed with the date 1903 and the name G J Pepin, Connétable. This commemorates the services of George James Pepin who, according to the acts of the Grouville Parish Assembly, was elected Constable of Grouville on 7 September 1887.
Opposite the well is a farmhouse, La Fontaine, which has been owned by the Labey family for centuries. Built in the 1600s, Richard Renaut sold it to Thomas Labey in November 1692 and it has passed down through the generations since that date.
The family were prominent members of the parish with three subsequent Thomas Labeys serving as Constables during the 18th and 19th centuries, followed by two serving as Procureur du Bien Public into the early 20th century. However, they were essentially farmers and in the 1851 Census, Thomas Labey and his son Thomas, are described as ‘landed proprietors’, farming 10 and 13 acres of land respectively and employing two labourers each.
Just to the east of the junction with Rue de Fauvic is a now derelict property, Fauvic Farm. Built in the 19th century, this was once also an active farm with several outbuildings. A date stone can be still be seen above the door inscribed JDM.JPR 1824 referring to Jean Dumaresq who married Jeanne Pirouet at St Clement Parish Church on 8 September 1800.
More recently the property was in the hands of the Payn family when, in 1968, William Payn bought it from Constance Turvey. Constance had inherited it from Harold Touzel Bree who in turn inherited it from his father Touzel John Bree.
Born in St Clement on 15 February 1880, Touzel Bree also became a prominent member of the parish. Following his father’s death when he was still a minor, he inherited the farm under a tutelle. At the age of 20 he was granted full control of the estate and in the 1901 census he’s described as a ‘farmer, own account’ and is living on the farm with his widowed mother and six siblings.
He quickly became a respected grower and cattle breeder and was Centenier of Grouville from 1916 –1929 and Deputy of Grouville from 1929 – 1938.
In 1938 he was made a Jurat and was also president of the Committee of Agriculture. The Occupation followed shortly afterwards and in 1940 he became responsible for feeding the population of Jersey by instigating the growth of grain, vegetables and other staple commodities instead of potatoes, thus making the Island as self-supporting as possible. In 1945 he was awarded an OBE for these outstanding services. He served as a Jurat for the rest of his life dying suddenly whilst on holiday in France in 1951.
Further east along this road is Old Station House, which was originally Fauvic Station owned by Jersey Eastern Railways. The railway became an important service in the Island in the late 19th century and on 10 August 1872 the Jersey Eastern Railway Company purchased land from Susanne Le Huquet so that the line could be extended to Gorey Pier.
In the 1891 census 2 Fauvic Road is described as the Railway Station and William Pilditch, 63 years is the stationmaster living there with his wife, daughter and mother-in-law. The line closed in 1929 and liquidators of the railway company sold the property to a Mr Henry Milner.
Another service in this area was a grocery shop, which began trading in the early 20th century from Carlton House at the Grouville Church end of Route de Côtils. The 1901 Census shows 74 year old Miss Mary Milne as shopkeeper, although the property was owned by Reverend Ernest St John Nicolle who had purchased it from Jean Francois Mallet in 1877.
After the Occupation the shop was run by the Barnett family and became known as Barnetts. It was later renamed Crown Stores and it closed in 1999. Part of these premises was also used as a school with Carlton House School listed in both the 1891 and 1901 Censuses.
Two nursing homes have been run in this small section of Grouville. Fauvic Nursing Home, from a property formerly known as Fauvic House and Woodlands Nursing Home in Route des Côtils.
Originally in the Filleul family, Mabel Julia Filleul left Fauvic House in her will to the Jersey District Nursing Association in January 1949, along with money to the poor of Grouville and other charities. Purchased by Rene Eugene Hamel in 1949, it was leased to Tendercare Limited by Rene’s son Leonard Rene Hamel in 1985.
Woodlands was used as a nursing home in the mid 20th century and several people are listed there during the Occupation, along with the owner, Alice Nye. Its use as a nursing home, however, is only a small part of the rather chequered history of this property which began as a private house, was also run as a hotel for nearly 30 years and finally ended it’s days as a burnt out shell following a devastating fire on 24 January 1981.
It was a prominent house, being one of the few properties actually named on the Godfray Map of 1849. In 1851 a Mr Hugh Godfray, Attorney at Law, was living there with his family and servants, including a footman, coachman, cook and several maids.
In 1832 Jean Benest went bankrupt and was forced to sell all his immovable possessions to the procureurs and attorneys of his creditors. He owned at least 22 separate properties and Hugh Godfray, being one of the procureurs, received Woodlands.