17th century Jersey arch

17th century Jersey arch

It has just been announced that Planning Minister Deputy Duhamel has passed the plans for the building of a modern six storey office block on the former works site of my building ancestor Thomas Le Gros and sons who built a number local harbours and undertook the hospital rebuild after a major fire, these I documented in a previous post

The following is part of my submission to the original plans:

I strongly agree and support the learned comments submitted by Mrs Kerley on behalf of the National Trust and Mr Ferrari regarding this and the other related buildings and so will not repeat their statements, and I add the following:

My concern is regarding the fine and very significant granite Jersey arch within No.70 Esplanade a proposed listed building which will end up in “storage” under the current plans and one presumes with an uncertain and probable insignificant and unprotected  future, which I feel is contrary to 3.1, 3.2,3.5,3.6,3.7,3.20,3.21,3.22,3.23, of the “Historic Environment” of the Island Plan. The later initials on the arch T.C.L.G. 1879 stand for Tom Charles Le Gros 1825-1885 an ancestor of mine whose building works were on this site, the 1861 census has him as a building contractor employing 100 men.

The following statement in the applicants supporting documents EIS 2, the site and the proposed development: 2.1.9 “features an impressive semi-circular carriage entrance and reused date stones from an earlier building” this comment has not been substantiated in any way, the date stones may well be from the existing building and have certainly been part of it for over 130 years if not more, it may be possible that these stones have been used from somewhere else but there is no mention of this, and one possible connection is that the father of T.C. Le Gros as initialled on the Jersey arch may have come from Mont au Prete a property once owned by his father Thomas Le Gros 1797-1881 which does have columns missing the voussoirs these have a slight resemblance in design to those at 70 Esplanade. If this was the case I would suggest the arch does then have even more cultural and heritage significance. There is also no comment on the other initials on the arch: PLS (Le Sueur?) 1674 inside a shield, IN CB on either side, and another PLS.  Before any decision on its future is made I propose that the history and providence (provenance) of the arch be fully and properly examined. It is worth noting that the adjacent seawall that recently gained a great deal of media and public attention most notably from “Save our Shoreline”  was rightly given protection as a listed building and saved was in fact built by Tom Charles Le Gros.

Old Jersey Houses Volume 1, Joan Stevens: Page 92 Listed as a surviving arch of what would appear only one of four in the south of St Helier. Page 87,89 “the vocal point of the local house, and its most spectacular feature, the round arch…the round arch usually called Norman, and shown on very small houses depicted in the Bayeux tapestry, is the very epitome of the early farmhouse in Jersey, and there is infinite variety in its details. It appears in different forms in both Jersey and Guernsey, and both spring from a common ancestor in France, but in each island a distinctive form has developed. It is sometimes claimed that the Guernsey arch came from Brittany, and ours from Normandy. See also images from pages 112 to 113. – which includes Mont au Prete where Thomas Le Gros senior lived, or near to and what appears to be an altered road side arch without the voussoirs.

As it is now only neighbouring residents who commented on the initial plans who can appeal to the Royal Court against the Ministers decision unless the Parish of St Helier arrange a meeting and parishioners decide to appeal, as St Ouen are currently in the process of doing with the Plemont development.

Previous post on the arch and the buildings of Thomas Le Gros and sons: https://jouault.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/esplande-granite-arch-and-le-gros-works/