The former British Hotel at No 1 Broad Street, St Helier, is now a bank, after over 150 years as one of the most important hotels in the town.
On 3 November 1810 Richard Rout advertised the business in Stead's Gazette de l'Ile de Jersey:
- "R Rout most respectfully begs leave to inform the nobility, gentry, commercial gentlemen, inhabitants and the general public that he has taken a large house facing the Broad Street, St Helier, and that no expense has been spared in fitting it up as an hotel."
It was a luxurious establishment that provided carriages to collect visitors from the Harbour and to take them on sightseeing tours of the island.
In 1839 it was the favoured hotel of the Bishop of Winchester. As well as lodgings, the hotel also provided entertainment, including on at least one occasion, unusual artistes, some from the circus of P T Barnum, including Baron Littlefinger, Count Rosebud and the Two-headed Nightingale.
By 1822, as the advertisement below indicated, the business was being run by James and Mary Almond. Widowed by 1852, she advised the 'Nobility, Gentry and Visitors to the Island, and the Public in General' that:
- 'She still continues to conduct the above establishment, and trusts, with strict attention to the comfort of those who may honor her with their patronage, combined with moderate charges, to ensure a continuance of that support which has been so liberally bestowed on her for these 30 years past.'
The hotel was described as:
- 'The most spacious and oldest established in the island, and situated in the most open part of the Town, closely approximating the Harbour'.
Mrs Almond imported her own wines and spirits, and offered London and Dublin bottled porter, stout and ales. The hotel was still the only one with its own carriages and horses, which were available for island tours and funerals.
Mrs Almond was born Marie Susanne Romeril in 1781, and married Helier James Almond in St Helier in 1816. They had five children, James (1817- ), Philippe Josue (1819- ), Mary Susan (1820- ), Jane (1823- ) and Richard (1826- ).
Daughter Jane married William Biggs, a merchant, in St Saviour in 1847, but he died in his thirties and she married for a second time in 1854 to Christopher Allinson Green, a commercial traveller, and son of Charles, who kept another unidentified hotel. Jane died in 1858 and Christopher took over the running of the hotel. He was the C A Green whose name appeared on advertisements in the 1860s and '70s as the proprietor of the British Hotel.
By 1873 Christopher was describing himself in his advertising as an 'importer of French, German, Spanish and Oporto wines ... enabled to supply the table of the hotel with the very first brands'. He was at the British until at least 1886, and a 1890 almanac shows his successor as Miss Mourant. She was followed in 1895 by W H Edmunds.
The Venn family, who originated in Somerset, were in charge from 1900 to at least 1940, first J H Venn, then H A Venn, and finally Mrs Venn. Joseph Hake Venn (1856- ) is shown as proprietor in the 1901 census. He was shown as single, although he is believed to have married a Susan and had a son Ernest in 1877.
The census shows that his nephew Harold A Venn was living with him and working as an upholsterer. Hotel staff shown in the census were Emily Barlow (1868- ), manageress; Mabel Volan (1878- ), barmaid; Louis Frohmann (1874- ), waiter; Charles Cartalenet (1863- ), kitchen porter; Emma Brooks (1878- ), chambermaid; Mabel Lempriere (1882- ), housemaid; Emile Daverie (1877- ), hotel boots; Frederick Eldridge (1882- ), hotel 2nd boots; and Arthur Bailey (1867- ) pageboy. The hotel had five travellers as guests at the time of the census.
Harold A was Harold Ascott Venn (1876- ), who married Maud Sylvestre Le Touzel (1876- ). After Harold's death Maud continued to run the British.
The final proprietor of the British before it closed and was redeveloped as a bank was C L Thomas. The building was then occupied by Standard and Chase Bank, and later by Barclays.