Pontac House

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Pontac House
Societe logo.png

This article by Trevor Labey was first published in the 2007 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

A familiar feature along the island's coastline, Pontac House's sedate and pleasing appearance belies its somewhat turbulent history. This elegant facade gives the passer-by no indication of its unique internal facilities, nor the length of its association with the hotel trade. Many islanders may be surprised at the length of that association.

New Pontac Hotel in 1855

Daniel Gaudin

However, choosing the date at which to start its history is a little more difficult, for while the identity of the man, Daniel Gaudin, who ordered its construction is beyond doubt, the precise timing of its construction is a little unclear. However, as he bore a surname that most islanders would find somewhat out of place in the parish of St Clement, perhaps it would be best to begin by providing a reason for his presence there.

His parents were married at St Clement's Church on 22 November 1800, his father being one David Gaudin, and his mother Marie Venement. It will come as no surprise to learn that David was baptised at the parish church of St Martin on 17 April 1771, being the eldest son of David Gaudin, by Jeanne Aubin his wife, and grandson of George Gaudin by Jeanne Le Ray his wife.

However, his mother Marie Venement was baptised at St Clement on 11 March 1764, being the eldest surviving daughter of Daniel Venement and Jeanne Touzel of that parish. As such, Marie was potentially the principal heir to her only brother, Daniel Venement, the bulk of the family's realty coming to rest in her hands when Daniel died childless in December 1807.

As Daniel Venement jnr was survived by eight sisters, the partage which covered the division of his realty was classified as an extraordinary item and, in accordance with the legal conventions of the time, was copied into the ledgers of the Public Registry. From this and other evidence, we can establish that the branch of the Venement family to which Mrs Gaudin belonged lived and worked at the property now known as Beaumaris Farm in La Rue de Jambart, an 18th-century farmhouse which lies a short distance to the north of Pontac House.

Needless to say, once established as the master of his wife's property in St Clement, David Gaudin seems to have moved his family to take up residence at Beaumaris, where the soil would have been lighter and the air more sheltered from the worst effects of the winter winds. Eventually he disposed of his father's farmhouse in the parish of St Martin, selling the property to one Philippe Collas by a deed that was passed in December 1817.

Although it is not possible to be precise about the exact time when David Gaudin and his wife moved to St Clement, we are aware that he had settled there by 1815 when one David Gaudin of La Grande Vingtaine appears in the Militia Census prepared for the island's Governor, Lieut-General Sir George Don.

However, while it records that he provisioned a horse as part of his military duties, it confounds us somewhat by stating his age as 47 years, when we know that this particular David Gaudin would have been 43 or 44 years of age at the very most. However, whatever the location of their principal home may have been, there can be little doubt that Marie's relatively advanced age would have limited the Gaudin's opportunities to raise a family, and of the four children that seem to have born to the couple, only one survived to adulthood, their second son, Daniel Gaudin, baptised at St Martin's Church on 4 November 1804.

In such circumstances, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that as David saw Daniel grow to maturity, and eventually marry, the idea of buying a separate home for his only child must have sprung to mind. Naturally the first lands that would have caught his attention were those immediately neighbouring his existing home at what is now Beaumaris.

Clement Touet

And so it was, perhaps, that on 22 May 1830 David stood before the Royal Court to pass contract on the purchase of a house, outbuildings, yards and land from his neighbour, Clement Touet, son of Jean. As the deed of acquisition details, the property in question then consisted of a house, outbuildings and yards with a vegetable garden to the north of the haystack yard. Further to this, there was an orchard, meadow and some 11½ vergees of further orchards, meadows and enclosures. The entirety, by all accounts, formed a single contiguous unit, the public road adjoining part of its western border, while the sea was not far from its southernmost extent.

Like this house bought in 1830, Pontac House stands in the fief du Prieur, Saint Clement, and when we come to scrutinise the description of the older property's surroundings, among other evidence, we can have little doubt that this deed represents the acquisition of Pontac House's predecessor. Sadly, David Gaudin survived this purchase by only a year before his death in October 1831.

Though born in St Martin, Daniel Gaudin must have spent much of his life in St Clement and so, perhaps inevitably, followed his father's example by choosing his bride from that parish. The young woman who stood beside him at the altar at St Clement's Church on 26 April 1834 was his first cousin, Jeanne Monnamy, daughter of Jean Monnamy and Debora Venement.

However, claiming to be independent at the time of the 1841 Census, it is somewhat difficult to establish how Daniel earned his living for the first 15 years after his father's death. But whatever the true source of his earnings, it is obvious from the evidence which has survived that Daniel soon set his sights on making his mark in parish life. Unfortunately (and characteristically for that time), his venture into the senior ranks of the municipality soon became mired in the bitter political rivalries of the period.

On 8 November 1831 Daniel stood as the liberal Rose Party candidate in the election for the post of Centenier, his rival for the post being the conservative Laurel Party candidate, Philippe Le Jeune. Unfortunately, the election was a complete draw, with both candidates attracting 66 votes. The election was referred to the Cour du Samedi, with Daniel accusing Le Jeune and his cohorts of bribery, menaces and, worst of all, soliciting the assistance of those who had no right to vote under the terms of the existing franchise.

Worse was yet to come when, on 6 November 1832, Daniel stood as the Rose candidate during the election for the office of the parish's Constable. In this instance Daniel may have found himself pitted against his father's former neighbour, for his Laurel opponent on that occasion was none other than one Captain Clement Touet of the merchant service. Yet again the election was a very close contest, with Touet winning by only two votes, a result which, needless to say, was challenged in the Cour du Samedi.

However, as the beleaguered Rose candidate, Daniel soon attracted the support of the local liberal press. Thus, while La Chronique de Jersey accused Touet of offering paltry gifts and 'promises in abundance, and plenty of threats to intimidate the voters', it left its readership in no doubts as to Daniel's abilities. Claiming that Daniel 'had given proof of his abilities over many years', it lionised him as 'a zealous defender of his country's liberties and an enemy of tyranny and chicanery'.

Pontac House in the 1930s

Three-year term

Meanwhile, as the deliberations of the Cour du Samedi ground on, the previous incumbent, Helier Godfray, remained in office. Eventually, in June 1836, Touet succeeded Godfray for a single term, Daniel following on immediately after in 1839, a post that he, too, retained for a single term of three years. He was thus Constable of Saint Clement at the time of the 1841 Census, his name appearing at the head of every return for his parish that year.

It may be no accident that this time, between 1832 and 1839, more than any other, was the most likely time for the construction of Pontac House, a period in Daniel's life when he and his liberal supporters would have regarded him as the Constable-in-waiting. Indeed, his elegant new home may have been intended as a mark of confidence by the expectant father of the parish as well as a more appropriate abode for one of its legislators, not to mention a desirable dwelling in its own right.

The most likely year for the house's construction would appear to be 1838, the date which appears on a broken, but beautifully dressed and engraved lintel stone in the gardens of the present structure. Obviously, this was not created to commemorate Daniel's marriage, which had occurred some four years before. Moreover, as we shall see, 1838 was the year in which Daniel and his mother borrowed a considerable sum by the creation of new rentes, some of which were secured on Beaumaris.

It was also the year which immediately preceded the start of Daniel's sole term as the Constable of the parish, thus providing him with the motive as well as the means to have the house constructed in time for the start of his tenure. Admittedly the evidence in this case is far from perfect, especially as datestones can be so misleading, but this does seem the most likely time of all.

Be that as it may, we do know for certain that the new house was in existence by October 1839, when he sold a further 11 quarters secured on a property which was defined as the house built by Daniel Gaudin at Pontac on the fief du Prieur. Until 1917, the new house would continue to be known officially as New Pontac, not only to emphasis its modernity, but also to distinguish it from Old Pontac, a house which is now known as La Fontaine and which stands immediately to the west of Pontac House on the other side of Rue de Jambart.

On the strength of the evidence which has survived, it is clear that Daniel was a man who liked to enjoy a high standard of living. Moreover, he was not only closely in touch with the architectural fashions of the time, but also quite inventive, too. This is clearly demonstrated by his accommodation of the family's horse drawn carriage in the actual fabric of the house, rather than as a separate structure in its own right.

Therefore, the phaeton, or open, four-wheeled carriage that Daniel is known to have owned, was kept in the upper basement, specially designed slopes and doorways at the rear of the house allowing the carriage to be taken to and from the building. A further lower basement may have been used as a wine cellar, the granite chamber beneath it being packed with snow or crushed ice to chill the atmosphere. This primitive form of refrigeration had a long tradition stretching back to classical times and was, from all accounts, still used during the Victorian period.

Household effects

Daniel's taste in household effects is also vividly recorded in an advertisement which appeared in La Chronique de Jersey in April 1845. However, it goes without saying that this sale of furnishings signified a severe intensification of Daniel's financial troubles, difficulties that may have begun shortly before the second anniversary of his father's death.

Although the precise causes for his financial troubles have long since been lost, the effects are only too evident. From the time he became the sole heir to his father's estate, to the time of his death, Daniel proved only too capable of incurring debts, but persistently unable to clear them until circumstance forced his hand.

As early as September 1833 Daniel had already raised roughly the equivalent of £311 by issuing rentes secured on his house in the fief du Prieur, St Clement; loans that he never cleared. It may have been because of these earlier loans that when, in 1838, he came to raise funds for what may have been the construction of Pontac House, Daniel was forced to persuade his mother to mortgage her home and birthplace to find the cash.

Thus, while Daniel may have raised a little over £226 from further rente issues secured on his own house that year, it was his 74-year-old mother Marie who generated a total of £615 by further rente issues secured on Beaumaris. A further £110 was also raised in 1838 through the sale of two rentes and the acceptance of some redemption proceeds from one of Daniel's rente debtors, bringing the total of cash raised by Daniel and his mother that year to the significant sum of £950.

The year 1839 would prove equally expensive, with Daniel shedding some £453 worth of rentes, none of which was used, either through redemption or assignation, to reduce the heap of £1,261 of liabilities which Daniel and his mother Marie had added to their slates. While 1840 would witness a mere £160 being added to his debts, Daniel raised a further £415 during 1841.

Considering his hunger for credit, one can only assume that Daniel was seizing on the enhanced market value of the new house as a pretext for raising further loans. Moreover, in that same year of 1841 his mother Marie added £297 to her own debts by issuing further rentes on Beaumaris.

This pattern was also repeated in 1842, with Daniel and Marie clocking up £415 and £309 respectively in further rentes. During the period of time that coincided with Daniel's sole term in office, son and mother together had added what was - for that time and place - the staggering total of £2,049 to their collective liabilities, debts which, in the nine years since the autumn of 1833, had now escalated to £4,571.

The railway passing through Pontac

Beaumaris Farm sold

Needless to say, by that time Daniel and Marie's affairs had reached a critical pass. In October 1842 Daniel and Marie sold not only Beaumaris Farm, but also some of Daniel's extraneous lands, presumably in an effort to reduce their debts. The buyer in both cases not only bore a surname that was synonymous with the parish of St Clement, but also may have been closely related to the Venements of Beaumaris Farm.

Jean Le Neveu was the youngest son of Philippe Jacques Le Neveu, of what is now Homefields in Grande Route de Saint Clement, by his second wife, Marie Venement, daughter of Thomas Venement and Elizabeth Gavey. Needless to say, as the youngest son of a younger son, the circumstances of his birth had compelled him to look beyond the boundaries of his native parish for his keep.

Consequently, Jean had moved to the town of St Helier to pursue the trade of baking. He had married Betsey Nancy, or Elizabeth Anne, Much, daughter of William Much and Elizabeth Anne de Gruchy. Both Betsey's father William and brother Thomas were bakers with premises in King Street and Sand Street, St Helier, and together both the Muchs, and Jean himself, acquired a considerable range of properties from the profits of their business.

As Jean's mother was a member of a more junior branch of the Venement family to which Daniel's mother belonged, it is more than possible that his acquisition of Beaumaris Farm might have been effected as a means of rescuing his cousins. Certainly it is obvious from the returns of the 1851 Census that Jean had no intention of evicting the 86-year-old widow from her familiar home, remaining instead at his house at 69 King Street, St Helier, while old Mrs Gaudin was kept company by her two younger sisters Elizabeth (Mrs Durell) and Marguerite.

For some two and a half years Daniel's difficulties seem to have subsided. However, return they did, and, furthermore, with an intensity that forced him to sell both his seaside home and all it contained. From surviving evidence it is clear that he was trying his utmost to get the best possible price for Pontac House, choosing to sell it by an auction which took place on the premises at 11 am on Monday, 17 March 1845.

Advertised as being 'new and well finished', appropriate for a respectable family or commercial premises, it is interesting to note that among the appurtenances of the property was a walled orchard covering roughly two vergees and 'replete with fully productive fruit trees'. Unfortunately, this initiative clearly failed, Daniel being forced once more to fall back on the wallet of Jean Le Neveu. The title to Pontac House formally changed hands on 12 April 1845, the sale of the household effects taking place two days later.


The inventory provided by the contemporary advertisements is fascinating in the extent of its detail.

New Pontac, St Clement


of the finest quality and almost new, PHAETONS, HARNESS, CARTS, etc, etc



On Monday, 14 April 1845, on the premises, NEW PONTAC, ST CLEMENT,

by order of the owner, M Daniel Gaudin, who has sold the said premises.

Consisting of dining, extending, loo, card, and pembroke tables etc, in mahogany; sideboards and chiffonieres; chairs in mahogany etc; sofas and matching armchairs; Brussels and Kidderminster carpets; rugs; mantelpiece mirrors and ornaments; window curtains in moreen etc; a fine eight day clock with a mahogany case; dinner, dessert, tea and lunch services; glassware etc; American linen, tables, chairs, and corridor lamps; many four poster, French and camp bedsteads, in mahogany, with curtains; many featherbeds, finest quality; horsehair mattresses, blankets and quilts, carpets, chairs, dressing tables and mirrors, and other bedroom furniture; mahogany wardrobes; presses; drawers; kitchen and scullery utensils, in the same manner a variety of other articles too numerous to mention.
The sale begins, on the said day, at 11 o'clock precisely.
James Bertram at Pontac in 1936 with the bus shelter he built on his own land

Fresh start

While his mother Marie Venement remained at Beaumaris, her only child Daniel Gaudin tried to start afresh in the parish of St Helier. In 1846 and 1848 Daniel bought the freehold to a house in St James's Street and two plots of land in Hilary Street. However, as two of these three acquisitions had been undertaken using his wife's rentes, it is evident that, despite the sale of Pontac House and all its contents, Daniel's financial position remained precarious. The move to St Helier brought no relief from his difficulties, his fall reaching its sad culmination some five years after he settled in St James's Street.

In June 1851 Daniel, having fallen into arrears on a single quarter of rentes, was imprisoned for debt. Moreover, it is clear that these troubles were affecting more than just his pocket, for his state of health had become so precarious that the prison doctor (then Doctor George Jones of Old Street, St Helier) was requesting his release from detention on the grounds of ill health. On the same day, the Viscount was ordered to warn Daniel to satisfy his arrears within two months, or face bankruptcy. Unfortunately Daniel failed to satisfy these demands and, as a consequence, his estate became embroiled in Décret proceedings, none other than Jean Le Neveu being declared the receiver on 15 November.

Shortly before the machinations of the bankruptcy proceedings began, however, the court sanctioned the official separation of Mr and Mrs Gaudin's estates, Jeanne being made independent in the management of her own assets. Undoubtedly this move was nothing more than a purely defensive action to protect Jeanne's assets from being drawn into the Décret. This was a prudent step, for from that time onwards the Gaudins may have had to rely on her assets as their only source of income, besides whatever monies the children could contribute from their earnings. Furthermore, in so doing, the Gaudins were also safeguarding what remained of their children's potential legacies.

During all this time Daniel's mother remained at Beaumaris, surviving her son's bankruptcy by nearly two years before she finally breathed her last on 17 October 1853 at the venerable age of 89 years. Her only child followed not long after, Daniel's life drawing to what must have been a painful close on 1 March 1854 when he died of a stomach disease at 5 Peel Terrace, in what is now Route du Fort, St Helier.

This further deterioration may have begun as early as February 1853, when his wife sold the rentes she had regained as a consequence of the Décret proceedings to raise an extra £91, a little added money that may have helped to pay the rent and, perhaps, whatever medical attention was available. Described then as a coal merchant, Daniel was 49 years old at the time of his death.

He was survived by his widow, Jeanne, and their three children: Daniel, Mary Jane and John James Gaudin. It is known that Jeanne had died by the time of the 1861 Census, when at least two of her children - Daniel and Mary Jane - were lodging in the house of one Harriet Gallichan at 28 Chevalier Road. These lodgings may have owed something to young Daniel's contacts, for Harriet described herself as a 'ship master's wife' and Daniel professed to being a seaman. However, after then the Gaudins simply disappear off Jersey's historical radar. To date, their fate remains a mystery.

Besides the ostensibly benevolent intention of providing financial aid to his cousins, Jean Le Neveu must have fancied the idea of being a significant landowner in his native parish. Certainly the ownership of the old Venement farm and Daniel Gaudin's shoreside residence would have been more than ample compensation for his laborious youth.


Being a prudent businessman Jean must have realised the importance of making his new properties pay their way, largely to cover the rentes that were due on them. While Beaumaris could be rented to a local farmer, there were very few purposes to which Pontac House could be applied. So, on 19 April 1845, only seven days after Jean and Daniel stood before the Royal Court to exchange the freehold title of the property, the house opened its doors as a hotel under the management of Thomas Atkinson.

THOMAS ATKINSON has the honour to announce to the Nobility, Citizens, Visitors to the island, and the Public in General that he has just let the said Hotel, which opened on Saturday, 19 April 1845. He intends to gain, by his assiduous attention, a share of the public's favours. The New Pontac Hotel is so agreeably situated as a summer house, that it cannot but obtain the support of the Island's Inhabitants; it possesses all the amenities required for respectable families.
The rules which form the basis of a well conducted Establishment are always strictly observed. Wines and spirits of the choicest quality. Porter, Stout and Ales. Snacks, Dinners or Teas supplied in the shortest time. Good stables

By 1851 Thomas Atkinson had been succeeded by another Englishman by the name of John Tallis, who made the New Pontac Hotel very much his own. He was accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth Handley, and their children Charles (then a clerk in the Royal Navy), Caroline, Eliza and Emma.

John Tallis was born on 27 December 1799, but when exactly both he and his family settled in the island cannot be known. It is known that Mrs Elizabeth Tallis and her children were living in Charles Street, St Helier at the time of the 1841 Census when Elizabeth claimed to be 'independent'.

It would appear that the family moved to the south-eastern area of the island shortly afterwards, for in December 1843 John Tallis was initiated into the Farmers' Lodge of the local Freemasons, the Lodge having been established in the Grouville area in 1812. Though surviving evidence suggests that he was not a very active Freemason, he does seem to have retained some links with the order for the remainder of his life, never failing to appreciate its potential as a source of business for his venture.

For example, in June 1854 'Bro Tallis' entertained the very exclusive company of the Samares Lodge of masons, a lodge whose membership was restricted to past or present Provincial Grand Officers and those of means. The admission fee for Grand Officers was ten shillings, but those of a lesser rank were discouraged by a prohibitive 10 guinea admission fee and a further fee of 20 guineas for initiation. The 'country feast' which the brethren enjoyed, however, was no gift on John's part, for each of the assembled company had to pay four shillings and sixpence a head for the fare that was laid before them.

Besides making the best use of his masonic contacts, John also had a keen appreciation of the importance of publicity. For example, on 3 April 1855 the hotel became the subject of an engraving by John Harwood of 26 Fenchurch Street, London, a fine portrayal of the house which may have followed upon the publication in 1853 of Harwood's illustrations of the Channel Islands. This illustration shows that a board had been placed over the central first floor window declaring 'Tallis's New Pontac Hotel’.


As New Pontac faced some stiff competition from Old Pontac the need to draw the public's attention to the existence of this new hotel was quite essential. Indeed, not only did Old Pontac offer ornamental gardens, but enjoyed a long-established reputation, having been under the management of the de Rue family since the beginning of the 19th century when it featured in John Stead's A Picture of Jersey in 1809.

Neither the loss of his wife in 1857 nor his own failing health precluded John's incessant efforts to nurture the hotel's reputation. In 1859, the last year of John's life, we find the New Pontac Family Hotel and Boarding House mentioned in A Topographical & Historical Guide to the Island of Jersey. Its author was James Graves, a Privileged Reader at the British Museum and manager of the Channel Islands Telegraph Company of Church Street, St Helier.

Undoubtedly the appearance of this particular item owed a great deal to the Le Neveus, as in the same street his landlord's brother, Philippe Le Neveu, worked as a notary with his senior partner, Henry Luce Manuel. Be that as it may, the publication of Graves's work in both Jersey, through the local printer Charles Le Feuvre of the Beresford Library, and in London, and thus further afield, by Smith and Son of the Strand, ensured that John's hotel received the maximum exposure that he was able to arrange.

Even in the very newspapers that would carry the news of John's death we still find advertisements designed to draw the public's attention to: Tallis's New Pontac Family Hotel, lying: 'within three minutes walk of St Clement's Church, where omnibuses pass to and from St Helier continually', thus proving that the routes taken by the horse-drawn omnibuses of the 1850s were little different to those used by their motorised successors today.

As the issue of The Jersey Times of 14 June 1859 informs us, John died: 'At the New Pontac Hotel, St Clement, Jersey, at 8 o'clock in the morning of Saturday, the 11th inst, after a brief illness'. His passing, it added, was: 'deeply regretted by his afflicted family and a numerous circle of attached friends.' On 17 June it reported further that: 'The funeral of the late Mr Tallis took place on Tuesday afternoon last.' It continued:

”The remains of the worthy and much respected gentleman were interred in St Clement's Churchyard, attended by a numerous circle of acquaintances, who appeared deeply affected at the loss of their friend. A number of Brother Masons were present at the ceremony, all of whom wore white gloves and sprigs of acacia - emblems of their order - which they threw upon the coffin previous to it being finally covered by 'mother earth'.

It is undoubtedly a mark of the Le Neveu family's respect and affection for Mr and Mrs Tallis that their final resting place lies so near to the family's most senior members in a cherished plot under the shade of the ancient yew tree and a short distance from the southern wall of Saint Clement's churchyard.

Daughter's legacy

After the death of Jean Le Neveu in 1853, the freehold title to Pontac House passed to his only surviving child, Elizabeth Anne Le Neveu. As her parents' sole heir, Elizabeth Anne enjoyed a substantial legacy of some 14 properties in St Helier and St Clement. Besides Pontac House and Beaumaris Farm, she also owned Fauvic Villa in Rue au Long, 22 Halkett Place, 69, 71 and 73 King Street, 3 Hilary Street, 28 and 30 Broad Street, 37 Union Street and Manor House in Undercliffe Road.

Her husband, and thus the effective master of her estate, was her second cousin, Jean Le Neveu, third son of Jean Le Neveu and Marie Hocquard his wife, daughter of the Rev David Hocquard, Rector of St Clement from 1804-22.

This second Jean belonged to the most senior branch of the family whose principal home was Pontorson Farm in Rue du Pontlietaut, St Clement. As his share of his father's estate, Jean had inherited Seaforth Villa, an elegant house built by his father shortly after 1816. It still stands today and can be found on the northern side of St Clement's Coast Road, a little to the west of the modern Parish Hall.

Articulate and intelligent, Jean became Constable of St Clement at the age of only 25 in 1854. Despite this favourable beginning, Jean seems to have been plagued with bad luck. In 1855 the task of verbally conveying the Lieut-Governor's order of expulsion to the eminent French novelist Victor Hugo fell at Jean's feet. The embarassing reports of the ensuing dialogue broadcast throughout the British newspapers by Hugo and his supporters chose to claim that Jean had sympathised with Hugo's predicament.

As the expulsion was not only the order of the Crown's political executor in the island, but a direct result of Hugo defending the right to freedom of speech of those who had reprinted remarks considered insulting to Queen Victoria and the Emperor Napoleon III, Jean was quick to deny any compliance with Hugo's sentiments, making his own version of events more than clear in a letter to the Express of London dated 8 November 1855. However, as no impartial witness was present at the time of the incident it is impossible to verify the claims of either party with any certainty.

Eight years later Jean's wife died at the age of 27, leaving behind her two small children for Jean to raise without the special care of their mother's attention. He never remarried. Ten years after that, in 1873, the principal business venture for which he is remembered, the English and Jersey Union Bank, ceased to operate. Likewise, the New Pontac Hotel seems to have shut down by the time of his wife's death in 1863.

On his death in 1859, John Tallis had been succeeded by his son Charles. The hotel remained in operation until at least 1862, Charles featuring in the Census return for Pontac House in the previous year. However, by December 1862 Charles had moved to Portland House at 42 Midvale Road where he established a shop dealing in wines, spirits, ales, tea, coffee, general groceries, and soda water. An advertisement which appeared in 1874 claimed that Charles dealt in 'all other kinds of aerated waters, in syphons, bottles, and portable cylinders' and also boasted the facilities of an 'Italian warehouse'. Here Charles would remain, and there is every reason to believe that, by benefitting from the custom of his well-heeled neighbours in Rouge Bouillon and its environs, he duly prospered. Therefore, for 85 years after 1862 Pontac House would revert to the use for which it was designed, namely, a private residence.

Another hotel

However, around 1865 one Philippe Arthur decided to set up another establishment under the name of the New Pontac Hotel. It would appear that this venture was situated at the southern-most extent of Rue du Hocq and may have been housed in what is now Le Hocq Inn. Around 1874 Philippe was succeeded by Nicholas Arthur, who lived at the tavern with his family and a farm labourer, thus implying that the sale of liquor and provision of lodgings was not the only source of income for the Arthur family. This other New Pontac Hotel was last listed under that title in 1887.

By 1869 Jean's ownership of Pontac House was clearly found wanting, and on 24 September that year the house was sold to Sara Hanna, daughter of William. Besides the solitary fact of her father's name, very little is known about her. Although the 19th century census returns for the island offer us no assistance in discovering her age or place of birth, those returns for the years 1871 and 1881 do reveal that, for most of the time, Sara must have been something of an absentee landowner. On the day of the census in 1871 the house was inhabited by Ann Halfield, an English housekeeper, and a local visitor by the name of Jane E Vautier, then a fourteen-year old apprentice dressmaker. Ten years later Sara had turned the house to more tangible benefit by renting it out to a local rentier by the name of Adolphe Nicolle. By that time, however, the practicalities of retaining the house must have been found wanting and on 10 December 1881 the house changed hands once more. It was then that Pontac House became the home of Josue Le Mottee, a quiet rentier from the parish of St John.

Born in 1829, Josue was the son of Philippe Le Mottee and Judith Powell. Besides having an appreciation for pleasant surroundings and living within sight of the sea, Josue never left any definite impression on posterity either. Certainly he was more financially secure than the man who had built his new home, for a clause of the deed of purchase placed him under an obligation to produce the sum of £1,047 within ten days of the contract passing before the Royal Court, and there is no indication that he ever had any difficulty complying with this condition, however the money was raised. He died on 16 November 1896 of heart trouble which, if it had been congenital, may explain the apparent obscurity of his existence. On 21 June 1902 his widow, Elizabeth Le Gallais, in her capacity as guardian of Josue's son, John Herbert Le Mottee, sold Pontac House to its new owner, Jeanne Charlotte Augustine Jugla.

Jeanne was born at 172a Regent Street in London on 23 January 1860, daughter of Alfred Hippolyte Romain Jugla by Emilie Alphonsine Duwavran his wife. However, while born in London, the origins of her father's family's were a little further flung, her paternal grandparents, Paul Daniel Fleury Jugla and Elizabeth Juery, living in the town of St Flour in the Auvergne at the time of her uncle's birth in December 1822. Her father's place of birth is unclear, but it is known that he was the younger brother of Auguste Charles Dieudonne Jugla who, after moving to Paris, established the business with which he would become synonymous: a glove factory at 2 Rue Favart. Trading under the name of just Dieudonne Jugla, he would eventually sell his wares in shops bearing his name in both Paris and London.

Paris shop

In Paris the principal shop would be sited at 11 Boulevard des Italiens, while in London the first retail premises at 84 Regent Street were leased in Christmas 1853. In March 1856 Dieudonne took on the rental of his niece's future birthplace, 172a Regent Street, initially in an attempt to diversify into the sale of scent, for while the name of Dieudonne Jugla would become synonymous with womens' gloves, and kid gloves in particular, both Dieudonne and his younger brother Alfred were forever dabbling in the sale of other merchandise.

By 1863 Dieudonne's enterprise in London was advertised under the name of the 'Tower of Babel: a veritable emporium where one could buy both the 'best Paris kid gloves' at two shillings and sixpence a pair, as well as: 'Paris fancy articles, fans, French jewellery, scented sachets etc'. Nor, by the 1860s, had Dieudonne limited himself to selling his goods in London and Paris alone. As the decade progressed, the name Dieudonne Jugla would not only adorn a shop in Grafton Street in Dublin but also Bold Street in Liverpool and Broadway in New York. While the 1870s would witness the closure of the shop in Dublin, this loss would have been more than offset by the opening of shops at Deansgate in Manchester and a further American outlet in Philadelphia. Dieudonne's business continued to thrive until, around 1880, he seems to have retired, leaving his business in Paris, London and the wider world to others. He thus enjoyed a fairly lengthy retirement for a man of his time, dying at the age of 79 on 18 January 1902 at his home in La Rue Erlanger near Le Bois-de-Boulogne.

By contrast, both the career and life of Dieudonne's brother Alfred would be less accommodating. Exactly when he came to London, presumably with the intention of managing his brother's business, cannot be known for sure. We know that he married Emilie at the parish church of St Roch in Paris in March 1859, so it would be reasonable to assume that he moved to London shortly afterwards, and certainly by the time of his daughter's birth in January 1860. Within a short time of arriving in London, however, Alfred had not only taken on the lease of his brother's property at 172a Regent Street, but also established a business of his own there selling a similar range of goods under his own name. Although expanding into 72 Regent Street, and then Cheapside behind St Paul's Cathedral, by 1866 the business seems to have run into difficulties shortly afterwards. By November 1866 his stock of kid gloves, worth some £2,727, had been sold as a single lot to Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge.

While it would continue for some years afterwards, moving east of Piccadilly Circus to New Coventry Street by around 1870; it seems to have failed around 1873. His stock was sold off once more, and Alfred's name would disappear from London directories for an entire decade. After his brother's retirement, Alfred re-emerged as an independent trader in various addresses in London, and as the formally nominated successor to his brother in Paris. By the time of his daughter's move to Jersey in 1902, the Jugla enterprise had become less personal, being described as just 'Jugla & Co', a symptom, perhaps, of Alfred's growing distance from its operation as he neared his seventieth birthday. In London it disappeared altogether around 1911.

Sons' deaths

On a more personal basis, Alfred's blessings would prove equally mixed. While Jeanne appears to have been a healthy child, the same was not the case with Alfred and Emilie's only other known children, Henry and Alfred, neither of whom survived their father. Alfred died within a matter of months after his birth in August 1865. Owing to their absence from the English censuses between 1861 and 1901, it is difficult to be certain as to the family's whereabouts, or its progress. However, their reappearance in 1901 provides us with an interesting reflection of Alfred's rather indifferent fate in the business world. Though professing to be a glove manufacturer, and living at 8 Nottingham Terrace, just to the south of Regent's Park in London, Alfred was not its head of household. Instead, Alfred and Jeanne had taken shelter with a wealthy relative of unknown degree by the name of Caroline Eliza Richards. Jeanne was then working as an 'amanuensis' or literary assistant, but, while Alfred professed to be still married, his wife Emilie was conspicuous by her absence. In light of her disappearance by the time of the family's move to Jersey, it seems very likely that she may have been terminally ill and that her death shortly afterwards prompted the family to opt for a change of scenery.

Once in Jersey, it was only Jeanne, as a British citizen, who was entitled to buy property in the island. Judging by the surviving evidence, Jeanne had set her heart on using the long lost, and much lamented, Mainland in Saint Lawrence as the principal residence for herself and the 67-year-old Caroline Richards. The contract for its acquisition was passed some 15 days before that for the purchase of Pontac House in June 1902, though both properties were subsequently leased to Caroline Richards the following February. While a clause in the latter deed placed Caroline under an obligation to honour the rights and leases of those tenants who were then inhabiting part of Pontac House, their precise identity remains a mystery. It is by no means certain, therefore, that Jeanne's father Alfred was then living in the island, though, considering their co-habitation of 8 Nottingham Terrace in 1901, it does seem very likely that Alfred followed them to Jersey and took up residence at Pontac.

However, as he is not listed in any of the contemporary almanacs or rates lists, he may have remained elsewhere in order to tend to his remaining business interests, perhaps only living at Pontac or even Mainland intermittently, if at all. Whatever the arrangement may have been, between February 1903 and December 1914 the life of the Jugla family seems to have continued undisturbed. However, on 11 December 1914 Mrs Richards died, leaving Jeanne alone at Mainland. Sadly, Jeanne followed her to her grave not long afterwards, though, as her health failed, she was prudent enough to secure for her father good titles on the properties in her ownership to preclude any legal difficulties after her death. On 2 February 1915 she sold both Mainland and Pontac House to Josue Renouf Bisson who, on the same day, sold the titles back to Jeanne and Alfred on a joint basis. A little over four months later, on 5 June 1915, Jeanne died in the parish of St Lawrence from cancer of the liver. A few weeks later, on 26 June, her bereaved father sold Pontac House, Mainland being sold to Thomas Henry Ward on 3 July. Alfred, then at the advanced age for that time of 82 years, moved to 1 Boyne Terrace in Great Union Road, St Helier. Elderly, and having witnessed the burial of his entire family - his wife and all his children - he died in the summer of 1917, the entirety of his estate being bequeathed to his loyal housekeeper, Maria Canet.

James Dupré

In light of the Jugla's association with women's accessories and perfumery, it is perhaps understandable that the next owner of Pontac House was involved in a similar venture. James Joslin Dupre and his predecessor and father-in-law, George Luce, may have numbered among the Jugla's wholesale customers at the well-known, local shop: Dupre of 44 King Street. The business was renowned for its production of Luce's Jersey Eau de Cologne, a very famous local product which took its name from its inventor, James's father-in-law, who had established the firm in 1838. This famous scent won a number of international prizes, including the prize medal at the Sydney International Exhibition in 1872, the Gold Medal at the South African International Exhibition in 1877 and further awards at the Calcutta Exhibition in India in 1883-84. In 1894 bonded stores were opened in Southampton under the management of James's eldest son, George Luce Dupre, from which exports were made to India, South Africa and South America. Despite the renown of his father's invention James was not incapable of producing his own concoctions, principal among which was the Jersey Bouquet.

James's ownership of Pontac House was to be very short-lived. Tradition has it that James failed to meet the loans which he had taken out to acquire the property and was thus forced to sell it to his bank manager. If one examines the deed of 26 June 1915, however, one can see little to confirm these rumours, for the terms of the house's sale were far from burdensome. They comprised the satisfaction of some 20 quarters of rentes, the cash payment of only £180 and the payment of an annual pension of £200 to Alfred Jugla. If anything, it was probably the last condition which proved too irksome and led to the disposal of the property. Admittedly his wife, Lydia Grace Vaumorel Luce, was the heir to a significant estate, both in terms of real property and cash mortgages which her father had negotiated, but she having predeceased her husband, her worldly goods passed to their children in August 1901.

James Bertram

It is true that the buyer on 21 April 1917 was a bank manager, namely, James Bertram. After his sale of Pontac House, James Joslin Dupre appears to have remained in St Clement, breathing his last at a house called Quainton at Le Hocq on 4 July 1921. Acknowledged as a: 'prominent Wesleyan' and 'an ardent temperance reformer', further testimony to the extent of his convictions can also be found in the death notice placed by his family in The Evening Post. 'Let me die the death of the righteous,' it states, 'and let my last end be like His.' On the other hand, The Evening Post also paid tribute to James's role as one of the founders of the Jersey Bowling Club.

The new owner of Pontac House, James Bertram, was the son of Francois Elie Bertram and Anne Sorel of 50 St Saviour's Road, St Helier. Educated at Victoria College, he eventually rose to become an actuary and manager of the Savings Bank, a familiar institution which now forms part of Lloyds TSB. Besides his prominent role in the island's banking industry, James also acted as director and chairman of the Jersey New Waterworks Company. A man of varied interests, James clearly harboured a benevolent streak, being Captain of the Royal Jersey Golf Club and a benefactor of St Paul's Church. James was a highly respected member of his community who not only contributed towards its thrift and prosperity, but also devoted his time to his municipality. He died on 7 April 1942 when, under the terms of the deed of 1917, his widow, Florence Eliza Maria Le Cornu, became its sole owner as the survivor in the joint ownership. She, in turn, followed her husband five years later when the property was inherited by her nephew Arthur Raymond Pepin. On 20 December 1947, Arthur sold it to a man who would turn it back to the use found for it by Jean Le Neveu over a hundred years earlier.

The new owner, Pierre Francois Rebindaine, was a man to whom hotel management was no stranger, having been manager of the Paddington Hotel in Cheapside and the Adelphi in St Helier before finally settling in St Clement. During the course of the German Occcupation of 1940-45, Pierre lived at Saint Ives in Cornwall, but on his return began to look around for ways of re-establishing himself in the hotel trade, a purpose for which Pontac House must have seemed ideally suited. However, in order to appeal to prospective guests the outward appearance of the house had to be refreshed. Although the rendered facade may have seemed 'well finished' in 1845, by 1947 the unpainted exterior was looking decidedly grim, darkened by over a century of weathering.

Thus, Pierre became the first owner to rejuvenate the house with a coat of paint. A permanent reminder of his presence there is the miniature of the Statue of Liberty which now stands on the front lawn and which was bought at a local auction. As an intriguing curiosity it achieves its purpose in the best possible way - attracting the attention of the passer-by without detracting or spoiling the appearance of this pleasant old seaside residence. At the beginning of 1967 Pierre and his wife, Doris Emily Guest, retired and the property was sold to Robert Thomas Osborne Birkett. It was during Mr Birkett's tenure that the hotel was transferred to corporate ownership in which it has remained ever since.

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs