Quarries in the Channel Islands Wednesday, Aug 3 2016 

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Herm Granite Quarry

Some years ago I assisted the late Reverend Roy Fenn in writing the history of Ronez quarry for a Parish magazine article this turned into a booklet, and a follow on “Quarrying in the Channel Islands” It is a vast subject and has not been that well recorded apart from magazine articles and limited mentions in some  larger works. When undertaking research I came across the accounts of quarrying in Herm which is a fascinating account. The major works on Herm were started by Colonel John Lindsay he supplied 300,000 tonnes of stone for London some was said to be used in the building and maintenance of the following places: The Embankment (a claim every Channel Island seems to have, including Chausey), the steps to St Paul’s Cathedral (Guernsey?), and King William’s Steps, Cheapside. Colonel Lindsay also lobbied to be allowed and financed to employ a 1,000 convicts, and build a breakwater on the east side of the island a mile and a quarter in length, this he did not manage as he died around 1826. I think it was him that lived on the island with his wife whilst his mistress managed the quarry works. In 1830 Jonathan Duncan formed a partnership with Geoffrey Martin, and Ebenezer Fernie under the trading name “The Herm Granite Company”.

In Alderney amongst others there was the quarry at Cachaliere managed by Matthew Rowe and Thomas Mitchell (his son Godfrey Way Mitchell 1891-1982 went on to  acquire and develope the firm of George Wimpey). The quarry is also commonly known as Chicago due to the owner making his wealth in that American City. There is little information or history of this site that I am aware of, there are pictures of it as a working quarry and notes of an accident there that killed three of the workers, a common occurrence in Channel Island quarries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Back to Jersey I have come across a number of places where quarrying has taken place, I am not aware of why or for where these areas were used, they may have been for local Napoleonic towers, local piers, or even exported especially as Jersey vessels often struggled to find ballast when leaving the island and is one of the reasons there was such a large cider industry in the island as this served as an export product.

If one follows the coast from Belcroute in St Aubin’s Bay there are signs all the way along the coast including Noirmont, Portelet, Le Fret, Ouasnie, Beauport, La Rosiere, and Petit Port. The following are photographs of the quarried stone:

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Noirmont stone that has been drilled and split

 

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Quarried stone Beauport (by Gros Tete)

Pictured above marked stone: these niches would have wooden wedges inserted into them and when they became covered by the tide the wood would expand and the stone would hopefully pop apart in a clean break.

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Beauport stone with drill holes

I am not sure why some stones had splits and others were drilled, I presume it may have been the way a stone could be predictably split, this drilled stone having some seams with the holes through them. Modern day a hole would have a feather and wedges inserted in each hole and these would be worked with a heavy hammer.

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Wedged stone at Le Fret

There is little evidence of quarrying at Le Fret, but once one gets to the beach at Ouasnie there is considerable evidence of quarry works including cobbled tracks, I presume stone from here would have been transported by boats to the building

You tube clip of splitting stone:

 

Island wiki Quarrying in Jersey:  http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/A_history_of_quarrying_in_Jersey

La Rocco Tower Thursday, Jul 28 2016 

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La Rocco Tower

Last week I undertook a Jersey Heritage guide training for La Rocco Tower, having done Seymour Tower in 2013. The Tower was the 23rd and last and largest of the round towers to be built in Jersey and was started in 1796 and completed in 1801, it was named Gordon’s Tower after the then Lieutenant Governor Andrew Gordon. The name Rocco is derived from Rocque-hou meaning Rocky island. This is one of the islands more iconic buildings featuring on the islands twenty pound note and on the neck of proffessional rugby player Matt Banahan.

The tower under the management of Jersey Heritage offers basic accomodation and sleeps seven including the guide, access to stay is limited to tides under 2 metres at low water, under a metre swell, and force 5 (any direction) these safety limits are in place because of the possible need for emergency services needing to get a caualty off, and the lack of landing facilities at the tower. Which is disappointing as it must offer a spectacular view when a decent swell is running. Fishing is good around the tower with Bass, Mackerel, Wrasse, and Garfish (Snipe) giving good sport, another of the saftey issues is swimming which is not allowed from the tower, which I was disappointed to find out, as there was little or no tide around the steps whilst we were there and from half tide down it seemed very safe. There is a large rockpool which served me well for a dip on both days, given their is no rain water in the tower the wash in the sea was welcome.

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View from the top towards the beach

The views were a novelty having spent a large part of my life looking from the shore side, although views are limited at the base due to height of the wall, the top of the tower offers a 360 panorama, although there is no seating in place as yet. We were treated to a spectacular sunset to the west of Guernsey and one can clearly see the other islands of Sark, Herm,  and Jethou.

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German shell damage above the door

Whilst on the rocks below I noticed the marks pictured above, between the door and window, I thought at first it may have been a sun dial, I posted a picture of it on the facebook page of Unseen Jersey and the general opinion this was this damage caused by German fire, the account of the Tower being used by the Germans as a target has been contested by some, so I hope this picture adds some proof to the accounts. The window coins must have been modern repairs to the tower after it was purchased through the campaigning of the late Reverend Manton and public subscription. The repair work also included pumped concrete supplied by Ronez.

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Row of twenty paired unhewn granite stones, a possible megalithic structure?

There are a variety of points of interest to be seen around the tower and surrounding area: pictured above possible megalithic stones, at La Pulente clay deposits over 6,000 years old with horse hoof prints in most probably from horse drawn vraic carts (19th centur, y?), to the now obsolete vraic mark on Le Bunion de Haut (my appeal to the Privy Council to save this mark and others as part of the vraicking law failed with the Queen dismissing it). On our stay the wooden German defence posts were visible on the beach. I did not have much time to look for marine species but was pleased to come across a couple of Giant Gobies which may be the first recorded on the west coast of Jersey, and a protected species in the UK, I am pleased to say the Societe Jersiaise marine biology section are currently surveying the area, which follows on from the ongoing survey work they undertake around Seymour Tower which has resulted in one research paper being produced.

References and further reading:

Jersey Heritage – Conservation Statement: http://www.jerseyheritage.org/media/historic%20buildings/La%20Rocco%20Tower.pdf

Island wiki : http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/La_Rocco_Tower

Island wiki – damage: http://www.theislandwiki.org/index.php/How_was_La_Rocco_Tower_damaged%3F

Jersey Heritage site booking: http://www.jerseyheritage.org/holiday/la-rocco-tower

Paris 2015 bridges Friday, Apr 22 2016 

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Pont Alexandre III

This is one of my favorite areas of Paris showing off its splendour and glory from the 19th century, the Pont Alexandre III was built with views in mind and to make as little as an impact on them as possible. Named after Tsar Alexandre III who had concluded the Franco-Russian Alliance in 1892, and the foundation stone was laid by his on Nicolas II.  Like other picturesque Paris bridges it looks as good from the water as it does when crossing it, the beauty of being down by the river is it is usually a bit less hectic and away from the tourists and traffic, the only down side is in the night time there are lots of rats running around, and probably not the safest place to stroll along on ones own. Below is a picture taken from on the bridge looking towards the Grand Palais, from here the road leads onto the main strip to the Champs Elysee.

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Pont Alexandre III with the Grand Palais

I also enjoy walking around the surrounding area of Notre dame but as yet I have not been inside the building which I know mostly through Victor Hugo’s novel which mentions Olivier Le Dain the rather barber and evil assistant (henchman) to Louis XI, who according to family legend/fable the family fled to Jersey with their wealth after the Kings death, as it was he was hanged and there appears to be no record of him having family so there is no proof of any connection, although the story appears known to most if not all the branches in Jersey.

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Notre Dame and Pont au Double

Below is Pont des Arts with all the padlocks upon it glittering in the rain:

Not a bridge but a statue that I stumbled across; Marshal Ney at Avenue de la Observatoire it sits on a rather non descript street corner and I did not get a decent photo of the statue itself so I post a more interesting list of campaigns he served in, until he was executed in 1815 for his siding with Napoleon during the “Hundred Days Campaign”, the statue also gets a mention in Hemmingways “A Moveable Feast”. It is also has some acclaim amongst surrealists and was most notably photographed by Brassai in the fog.

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Just part of the campaigns Marshal Ney served in

Zadkine Museum Friday, Mar 18 2016 

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La Poete in Jardin du Luxembourg

 

 

After leaving the Jardin du Luxembourg I could see there was a small museum for the artist Ossip Zadkine 1890-1967 nearby on rue d’Arrass it is tucked away and I at first walked past it, and even then it is small converted house (where he once lived). There are a few of his works outside int he garden, being late in the day I was not sure if it was open, I entered and was welcomed by the friendly staff, it was free entry, as a charge is only made when an exhibition is on, there is a collection box for donations which I contributed to on leaving. It only takes a short time to see.

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Human Forest

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Head with lead eyes

After visiting here I walked around and came upon the Musee de Cluny which was about to close, and so I shall have to return another day, there were a couple of interesting shops nearby for outdoor pursuits but the prices were very expensive. I then headed back and ended up on the Rue de Seine and there were several restaurants nearby which were too busy for my liking, and instead I walked around some of the art galleries on the street, interesting works but with ridiculous prices.

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Head of a man

Looking at some of Zadkine’s work it makes me wonder why there is a lack of sculptors in Jersey given that the island has a history of stone and wood workers, there are some examples on buildings, but Jersey statues are mostly casts in bronze done outside the island, or with the modern works imported stone. The stone dressing and wood workers are dying trades in the island, it is a shame that they have not been encouraged and supported better.

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Head of a woman

Paris 2015 continued Thursday, Mar 17 2016 

I arrived in Paris a few days after the November attacks so the city was rather chaotic with high security and sirens sounding pretty well non stop, the Eiffel Tower had been closed in a mark of respect and was reopened whilst I was there so I decided to have a look at the illuminations on a rainy evening.

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Tim Willcox BBC world news

I also paid a brief visit to the Place de la Republique to see a media circus tented around the fringes with throng of those paying their respects around the statue, with a cyclist riding around getting himself on screens around the world, it did seem odd having watched reporters on the TV each morning and then to see them live in person and trying to hear what the latest news was, I think it was the following morning I decided not to listen to the news and went out on my travels and spent the day mostly at Jardin du Luxembourg and I received a number of text messages asking if I was okay, replying – “fine relaxing in the park with lovely sunshine” only to return back to the hotel later in the day and find out I had just passed below one of the incidents on the metro.

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French Cavalary

I entered the park and spent a brief time watching a couple of chess games in progress, then a mounted ceremonial troop came in for a brief rest, they had an armed guard so I did not get too close, and they departed fairly quickly, part of the park was closed off for security reasons so I was unable to see where they went off to.

I was lucky with the weather and not many people about, the park have a variety of statues from Queens of France, authors and poets, and a couple of modern pieces all had some sort of interest be it visually or historically.

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Mary Stuart Queen consort 1859-60

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Greek Actor by Baron Charles Arthur Bourgeois (1838-1886)

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Le Marchand de Masques by Zacharie Astruc

Masks of famous writers, composers, and artists: Victor HugoLeon Gambetta, Jean-Baptiste Corot, Alexandre Dumas son, Hector Berlioz, Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Gabriel Faure, Eugene Delacroix, Honore de Balzac, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly.

La Rocque and fish trap Friday, Mar 11 2016 

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Today was fine and settled after what has been a very wet start to the year, coupled with a rise and fall of tide of 11.8 metres I decided to go for a walk down the main gutter below La Rocque Harbour and look at something I had discovered a couple of years back. The harbour was built in the early 19th century to shelter the fishing boats that fished around the south east coast and Les Minquiers where they would stay for up to a week and fish for lobsters and then return their catch and have it transported by boat and train to London. When the harbour was built it was said that 40 boats were using the area.

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The photo above is taken from the lower part of the gully looking back towards the harbour

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Eelgrass – Zostera marina

Once you are at the bottom of the gutter it opens up to plains of sand and rocks dotted around there is plenty of areas to explore and find some of the above pictured, eelgrass is on the IUCN red list and is in decline, it suffers from a wating disease and pollution, there were notable losses locally due to disease in  the early 20th century. It was also once a popular filling for matresses and known as “Palliasses”.

The area is also a haven for birds and at this time of year we have over wintering Brent Geese who will shortly be leaving for the Artic to breed, and Red Breasted Mergansers, I did not see any terns but Sandwich terns can be seen all the year round, and Common terns will be arriving from warmer climes next month.

The line of stones in the middle of the sand are man made and originally when I saw them some years back I thought they may have been a track for carts, but I now think they are some sort of fish trap (Pêcherie), there is another line of stones barely visible on this picture, they are just behind the reef.

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Fishtrap ?

Paris 2015 Tuesday, Mar 1 2016 

My first day in Paris and I arrived at the train station and took a little while to obtain my metro pass which had been simple on my previous trip in that I just purchased it at a desk, I now needed to get a passport type photo and fill out a short form, and I obtained a card in a solid plastic holder. Before leaving the station I signed the condolence book for the victims of the recent attacks which is to be stored in the Paris Archives. I booked into my hotel the Ibis budget La Villette, on Avenue Jean Jaures. I then set off to Pere Lachaise Cemetery which was one of the few places I had decided to go to before my arrival.

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I had me guide book to guide me round which showed me the most notable graves, but I soon got sidetracked to some of the more interesting places, and I came across a number of Polish exiles which I have with limited success tried to find out more about them, but there are several that I have not been able to trace, one bonus was to find a list on google ( Almanach historique; ou, Souvenir de l’émigration polonaise) of those in Paris, which also included a few listed in Jersey several of whom I had not recorded, and it also gave there rank in the army.

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Klementyna Tańska

Polish childrens author Klementyna Tańska and so called “Mother of the Great Emigration” is situated in an area of the cemetery where several other Polish exiles can be found.

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Theodore Morawski

Sadly I did not get to see all of the cemetery as the rain came down and I went off to visit elsewhere in Paris.

Caen continued Tuesday, Jan 5 2016 

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The statue above in Place Saint-Martin is of Bertrand Du Guesclin a Breton Knight c.1320-1380, also known as the “Black Dog of Broceliande” Known to Jersey for his invasion in 1373 when he captured the island and lay siege to Mont Orgeuil, the Bretons continued hostilities in the island for 2 more years after, until a ransom was paid for du Guesclin to cease hostilities.

I visted the gallery in the grounds of the Chateau de Caen which was disappointing in that it had a large collection of paintings depicting biblical scenes which although fine paintings had little interest to me, there was also a display of modern art which was little more than  scribbles to me. I then went on to visit the museum which was rather non descript from the outside, with the amount of space and art in the area the museum setting appears to have been ignored, the museum  was a variety of models, displays, and films depicting the history of Normandy, the most interesting bit for me was the display of traditional crafts of the area especially the tin works, below is a map of the foundaries, forges, and tinsmiths in lower Normandy.

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I am interested because my ancestor Frederic Jouault 1811-1871 was a tinsmith living in Peter Street, St Helier, he was the son of a tailor, so I do not know how he came to take up the trade, but he must have been a skilled craftsman as he sent an engraved pistol to be displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The museum had a display of the sort of items that would be made by the smiths:

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I walked to the north west of the town and came across the Church of Saint Nicolas but found it closed, and the cemetry has to be one of the most neglected I have seen:

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I then went onto the nearby cemetery des Quatre-Nations which was only in slightly better condition to the previous cemetery but I had an interesting walk around it.

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Cimetiere des Quatre-Nations

Then onto the Cemetery of Saint-Gabriel which was more in custom to the pristine French cemetery I was accustomed to.

Nearby is the Jardin des Plantes a wooded park on the side of a hill with variety of labelled trees and shrubs:

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Jardin des Plantes

 

 

Caen Statues Sunday, Dec 6 2015 

My first visit to Caen. I stayed near the train station which is a 10 minute walk into the centre, I arrived on sunday morning and found a large market there that was worth looking around as the stalls were varied and numerous. I came across a variety of sculptures of interest and here are some of them:

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Louis XIV by Louis Petitot

Originally placed in 1828, the statue by Louis Petitot was smelted by the Germans and replaced in 1963.

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“La Parque” by Claude Quisse

“La Parque” by Claude Quisse is situated by the offices of the Conseil de Basse-Normandie, although situated in a pretty courtyard I think it would be better placed int he open as natural backlighting would highlight its form as you can see with the hair with the sky behind.

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This was one of collection of statues “One man, nine animals” 1999 by Huang Yong Ping again very good works not best situated in my view as they are tucked away behind the restaurant

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“Unconditional surrender” by Seward Johnson

Not one I particularly liked but an interesting history in that feminists are campaigning against this statue “Unconditional Surrender” by Seward Johnson on loan from New York, it represents a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, This is well sited being between the war museum and the hospital.

There is also a statue of Bertrand Du Guesclin but because of his actions against Jersey I think it best not to glorify this person! But perhaps on my next visit I shall inflict some national retribution upon the statue and plant a Jersey flag on top of it.

 

 

Cherbourg Tuesday, Nov 24 2015 

Having missed my annual visit to the Archaeology/History meeting with GRAC at Hague last year I was pleased arrange the visit this year at short notice and caught the ferry and stayed overnight in St Malo catching the train up the next day, sadly the ferries do not combine that well with the times of the trains, something my Grandfather with Lucien Dior and Emile Riotteau was trying to sort out over a 100 years ago (one vision being a ferry from Gorey to Granville and train onto Paris), sadly Jersey seem to be going backwards rather than forwards in the area.I stayed three nights in the Hotel Angleterre which is just  off the Place de la Republique  with some decent restaurants nearby.

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Memorial for those of the Resistance who lost their lives, with Alderney (slave labour camp) on one of the plaques alongside Auchwitz, Buchenwald, and Dachau. When Alderrney was libertaed none of the occupying force were ever charged with any of the crimes that they had committed.

Armand De Bricqueville Cavalary Colonel under Napoleon

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Unknown piece of art just lying around

Details of the above work: http://www.wikimanche.fr/Band_Shell

I walked along the east out of town which in hindsight I should have caught a bus out as it took a while to get to the better bits of the coast, I came across the above work sitting in a works yard, across at the harbour area was the vessel “Goliath”a jacking platform used mainly for erecting offshore windfarms. I made my way past the small Port des Flamands with a little lagoon inland with what appears an old dry dock now concreted in. I made my way to Collignon beach with a few surfers eyeing up a small wave which was dropping with the tide. I made my way along the coast to Port du Becquet which and made my way along a little further before making my way back inland and back on a cycling route.

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“Alabama” and “Kearsarge” graves Cherbourg

 

I made my way up town later and ended up going to the cimitiere des Aiguillons to see what was of interest and came across the memorials for those lost with the action between the CSS “Alabama” and USS “Kearsarge” set aside in their own designated area. I previous did a post on the action: https://jouault.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/battle-of-cherbourg-1864/

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War graves Cherbourg

At the top of the cemetery there are the war graves from various actions from the first world war, 700 in all making it the largest militiary grave in a civil cemetery in France, including some allied burials on the east side. There is a monument for submarine tradegies: The “Ondine” lost at sea 1928, victims of the “Promethee” 1932, victims of the vessel “La Fidele” 1997.

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Roger Jones

Founder of Ex Libris Books ~ Book Publishing and Production

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