From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search




Women washing clothes at the lavoir at Mont Mado

Douets à laver, as they are known to Jersey country people, or lavoirs, the name found in official documents, are communal washing places which can still be found in many places in Jersey, some maintained in excellent condition, while others have been allowed to become overgrown. Women used to gether to wash their clothes and exchange gossip

The Bouley Bay lavoir


Some belonged to a particular property, or a family, and some were used by a group of neighbours. The right to use a lavoir and the preservation of the path leading to it were important matters, and often referred to in contemporary documents.

A lavoir at St Cyr, St John has a stone engraved with the names of the only families who were permitted to use it, as was the Fontaine de Gallie Lavoir on Rue de Vaux de L'Eglise in St Martin (see picture in gallery below)

Noms des Personnes ci dessous mentionnés qui ont droit au Douet et qui l'ont fait réédifé dans l'année 1813

Droit au douet involved obligations as well as privileges. When a lavoir (sometimes incorporating an abreuvoir for watering animals) was erected, a contract was often drawn up, with the parties agreeing to share equally in all expenses and to observe certain rules. For example, advance notice might be required by any person wishing to wash linen. The duties of those who had the right to use a certain douet or lavoir were to keep the channel clean and free from obstruction, and to abstain from fouling or diverting the water.

National Trust

The National Trust for Jersey looks after 20 lavoirs, wells and public pumps. The Trust owns the lavoir de La Rue des Prés. By arrangement with the parishes and individual owners, the Trust also runs a programme under which it accepts responsibility for the care and maintenance of other lavoirs which would otherwise fall into disrepair.

Most Jersey lavoirs date from the 18th and 19th centuries, although it is believed that the communal lavoirs may be older. They were constructed in stone, and the initials of the owner(s) and the year of construction can often be found engraved on the stone at the back of the lavoir. Before the lavoirs were constructe, clothes were usually washed in streams, and gradually some sort of pool or more elaborate structure was established.

In St Helier, one of the main washing-places was the open brook, Le Grand Douet, which flowed through the area now known as Springfield.

The Lavoir de La Rue des Pres was donated to the Trust by Mrs H M C Scott-Dalgleish in 1987. It is a large granite lavoir, which is easily accessible.

Among the other lavoirs the Trust cares for, the most significant are probably the Lavoir at La Fortunee and the Bouley Bay Hill Lavoir. The former is a very secluded construction, which seems to have been built in 1834. The main containment area in which the water is trapped holds 80 pots (a “barrique”). There is a tiny lane leading to the lavoir, which could only be used by those having droit au douet. The latter lavoir is also dated from 1834, according to the stone inscription, and served some tenants of the fief de l’Abesse de Caen.

Two other lavoirs can be seen in St. Clement: Slate House Lavoir and Pontac House Hotel Lavoir.

Douet Fleury

Lé Douët Fleury is at the end of a field path near St Martin's Church. The Douët is fed by a brook which finally discharges into St Catherine’s Bay.

There are several groups of letters on the stone pillars of the douët which were the initials of the householders who were entitled to use it for washing their household linen. These carvings include EELS 1832 (for Édouard Élie Le Sauteur). This would be Édouard Élie Le Sauteur (1792- ), Centenier of St Martin, married to Jeanne Sohier. They lived on Rue Faldouët in the Vingtaine du Fief de la Reine.

Lavoir des Dames

The Lavoir des Dames at Sorel, St John, is not a lavoir at all, but a large rock pool.

Washing places


This 1973 photograph shows the Fontaine de Gallie Lavoir on Rue de Vaux de L'Eglise in St Martin. The initials, apparently carved in 1846, and the people they represent, who were allowed to use the lavoir, are PVD Philippe Vardon, NRN Nicolas Renouf, ALHQ Abraham Le Hucquet, INC Jean Nicolle, IFR Jean Ferey, GSH George Sohier, PDLM Philippe de la Mare, ILVC Jean Le Vesconte, GLHQ George Le Hucquet, EVD Elie Vardon, CP at the bottom apparently stands for La Chapelle Méthodiste

Roadside pumps and abreuvoirs

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs