Alexandra House

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Alexandra House, St Lawrence


Alexandra House in 1900

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From St Lawrence, a Celebration of our Parish

Alexandra House today

In the centre of the parish at Carrefour Selous, Alexandra House was the most imposing shop of all. It has now become David Hick's antique shop, which still hides behind the original wooden shutters. The name of the house probably dates back to 1863, the year of the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

Simon and Vautier

In 1861 Philip Vautier was already in business as a draper at these premises. He did not buy the property until 1879. This was from Jean Simon [But see below - Ed] , who had inherited from his brother George Frederic Simon, who had originally bought Clos ou Jardin du Hurel from Philippe Marett in 1837. Neither the date of the construction nor that of the name can be further clarified at this stage.

When Philip Vautier died, his only daughter sold the property to Henry Charles Divers in 1906.

Outbuildings, including a horse stable, surround an enclosed yard behind the glazed porch or conservatory where grapes once hung from a vine. The old bread oven can still be seen in an outbuilding. In its day this was a remarkable country shop. The interior is lined with high shelves. Stout wooden counters remind us that in its prime the goods came in bulk - in barrels and sacks, in cardboard boxes and wooden crates, in bottles and jars of glass or stoneware, or in large drums or square biscuit tins.

All goods were weighed out into bags, or the customer's own bottle or can was filled. Country dwellers relied upon the shops to keep in stock all their wants and needs. The likes of Ivy Divers, who took over from her father, and later Mrs Berry, were central figures in parish life in the days when the JMT buses delivered the local newspaper and packaging meant a brown paper bag, whether it concealed biscuits or a bottle.

The property once housed a village stores, and the lady in the picture is believed to be Ivy Divers. Today it is home to a thriving antiques business

Commerce House

An entry in the 1851 census suggests that the property was then known as Commerce House, and was occupied by 39-year-old bachelor David Simon, a linen and woollen draper. David was the younger brother of George Frederic and Jean. Quite why George Frederic, who was the fifth eldest surviving child at the time of the death of his father Philippe, in 1839, inherited Commerce House is unclear. [1] Philippe's wife Elizabeth Le Rossignol died two years before her husband in 1837.

The family were originally from neighbouring St Peter, not St Lawrence, although the land they owned appears to have crossed the parish boundary. The first son, Philippe, died in infancy and another Philippe was baptised in 1802. He married Mary Langlois in 1838, the year before his father died, and at the 1841 census he is living with his wife and 8-month-old daughter Mary, and his younger brother Helier, in St Peter, described as a land owner, suggesting that he inherited the family's St Peter home. Ten years later Helier has left, Philippe, described as a landed proprietor and farmer, and Mary now have four children. They are still living in St Peter, although perversely their district has been indexed under St Lawrence in the 1851 census.

Jean (1802- ), the next son, married Nancy Barr about 1834 and they had three daughters and a son. In 1841 they were living in St Mary and John (34), as he is shown in the census, was a thatcher, so it appears that he has not inherited any family property at this stage. In 1851 Nancy and her three children are living in Augerez, St Peter, but Jean does not appear in the household listing. We can find no subsequent census entry for him and it appears that he may well have died before 1851. That would mean that he could not have sold Alexandra House to Philip Vautier in 1879.

So who did inherit Commerce House. If David Simon was living there working as a draper in 1851, perhaps it was him, as the younger brother of George Frederic, following the same trade. Perhaps Jean, who appears to have died shortly after George Frederic in the 1840s did inherit from him, and then pass the property to his only son John, who later sold it to Philip Vautier.

Other sons

The next son, Charles (1804- ), married Ann Elizabeth Le Veslet in 1831. In 1841 they are living in St Brelade with four of their first five children (one appears to have died in infancy). Charles is shown as a farmer.

Pierre Jean (1807- ) married Elizabeth Giraudot in about 1830. From the ages and names of children it appears that the 1841 census shows them living in St Helier. Pierre Jean is shown as 'Peter', his wife as 'Matilda' and with them are Thomas (8), James (7) and Sarah (5).This household is the only match for the family shown in the tree below and the three other children, Pierre Jean, Edouard and Pierre are known to have died in infancy before 1841.

In 1841 George Frederic (30) was a draper in the Vingtaine of Coin Tourgis Nord, St Lawrence, presumably at Commerce House, although individual properties were not identified in the census. His 19-year-old sister Elizabeth was living with him. He appears to have died by 1851

David was living alone in Rose Cottage, Beaumont Village in 1841, when he was also described as a draper.

Notes and references

  1. See A history of Six Rues for more information
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