The Exeter

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The Exeter Hotel
22 Queen Street


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The Exeter Inn is one of the oldest surviving public houses in Jersey. The name first appears in the 1861 census, but it is known that there was an inn there before.

The owner and family outside the Exeter, Queen Street, at about the end of the 19th century

In 1851 Sophie Mann (1803- ) was the registered innkeeper, living their with her hairdresser son Edwin (1834- ). Philip Ahier's Historical Hotels and Inns of Jersey, the definitive work on the island's old public houses, notes: 'of the early tenants of this hotel, little is known'.

Henry Boyce

That is far from true. For many years it was known as Boyce's Exeter Hotel, after the owner or tenant, Henry John Boyce, who is first recorded in the 1871 census. Henry was born in London in 1834, and although one census return shows that his wife Louisa Emma, nee Davey (1841- ) was born in St Brelade, other records show her born in England, as were six of their eight children.

Henry was a brushmaker before he came to Jersey, but he certainly seems to have made a success of running one of the most important inns in the centre of St Helier, remaining at the Exeter until close to the end of the century when it was taken over by Samuel Picot (not in the 1880s as shown in Philip Ahier's book).

The Exeter was run by Charles Henry Mann (1811- ) in 1861. He was presumably related to Sophie, but we have been unable to discover how. The census shows him living at the Exeter with his wife Sara, nee Hutchings (1803- ) and daughter Sarah Elizabeth (1844- ) all born in England.

Freemasons

In between the Manns and Henry Boyce, a Mr Clark is known to have been the landlord. So popular was his establishment with the Freemasons who met there regularly that they had to be ordered by their Grand Lodge to move to the recently erected Masonic Temple in 1866.

Philip Ahier's book relates that the Yarborough Lodge of the Freemasons first met at the Exeter in 1849 and returned there in 1860, against the wishes of some of the members, because the landlord was Mr C H Mara, the lodge's Worshipful Master. This is presumably a misprint for Charles Henry Mann, who was allowed to continue in both roles until 1857.

The Lodge met at the Exeter on the first Monday in each month from 1812 to 1864. The Chapter of Harmony Lodge met there from 1849 to 1865 before merging with the Yarborough Lodge.

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Picots

Samuel Picot was living at the Exeter in 1901. He was the husband of Elizabeth Jane, nee Moyse (1866- ). Living with them was their son Harold Samuel (1888- ) and Samuel's sister in law Alice Parris (1871- ). Samuel was born in Trinity in 1864, the son of Charles Picot (1820-1891) and Mary Ann Le Cocq (1822- )

According to Philip Ahier, Samuel sold the Exeter to his sister-in-law Helena Morrissey in 1813, and for the next two decades it was more commonly known as Morrissey's. This conflicts with almanac listings, which shows the public house in the name of E M Morrissey in 1920, and H A M Morrissey in 1930.

Ahier wrote:

"The family lived on the first floor of the premises in quite spacious accommodation that was later to become the lounge of the hotel. The alterations were planned for before the war, but were not finally ready until 1950, following the interruption of the Occupation years. By this time the downstairs bar had been doubled in size by moving the lounge upstairs. The small band that used to play in the public bar in pre-war days was later replaced by a television set, one of the first to be installed in a public house in the island."

Reginald Le Cocq took over the reins from his mother-in-law in 1935, although he had been helping at the bar since 1920, after he returned from a life at sea. He described his customers as 'a mixed bag of ex-servicemen, pensioners, retired businessmen and the ordinary fellow'. Women were still reluctant to run the gauntlet of disapproval that they would incur by being seen in a public house, although it was becoming acceptable for an escorted lady to enjoy a quiet glass of port and lemon in the upstairs lounge bar. Mr Le Cocq left the Exeter in the 1960s and was followed as landlord by J Healey and then William Stockton.

Jersey Archive presentation

This history is based on a presentation by Linda Romeril in the Jersey Archive 'What's your town's story?' series

Having run as a public house for at least 190 years, it’s no surprise that 22 Queen Street – the Up and Down Café and Bar, formerly known as the Exeter Inn – has many tales to tell.

Occupation

During the Occupation, Hilda Le Cocq held the licence for the inn and her registration card shows that she was living at the property with her husband, Reginald, who was listed as the hotel manager, and her son, Kevin.

1857 advert
In 1858 the Exeter was a terminus for the coach service to Gorey

Picot family

Before the Le Cocq family took over the management of the inn, the Picot family were the licence holders. In the 1911 census, Samuel Picot is named as living at 22 Queen Street and described as a 45-year-old licensed victualler.

In 1900 Mr Picot’s licence renewal came before the licensing bench when Centenier C S Renouf stated that he objected to the application after the Constable of St Helier received an anonymous letter complaining about the way in which Mr Picot conducted his tavern.

Advocate Nicolle replied that no official complaints had been made against Mr Picot and that he had a letter from Mr Picot’s next-door neighbour who declared that “he had never seen persons leaving the house after hours, except workmen who were effecting alterations on the premises”.

In summing up, the president of the licensing bench said that the Assembly could not take any notice of statements made by the Constable and granted the application.

Boyce family

In 1891 54-year-old Henry J Boyce was the licence holder at the Exeter. Maria Little, aged 24, was the barmaid at the inn and was also living at the property. Three years later, in July 1894, Henry and Maria married in the Town Church.

Just a few months later, the Exeter Inn and the Boyces were central to a libel case brought by the Attorney-General against Philip Mourant de La Mare, part owner of the Jersey Times and British Press newspaper.

On Friday 26 October that year, the newspaper had published an anonymous article criticising the paid police force of St Helier and using a recent case involving the Exeter Inn as an example of their “manifest defects”.

The paper said that at around 3 or 4 o'clock on a Wednesday night, Mrs Boyce was awakened at the property by hearing noises downstairs. She woke her husband, who went downstairs to investigate and found a man wandering around in his kitchen with a box of matches. The paper reported that the untimely visitor was found to be “none less than PC Machon”.

On questioning PC Machon, Mr Boyce found that he had got into the property through the top half of his bar window, which gave direct access to Queen Street. Boyce said that PC Machon was not in uniform and “seemed confused”. PC Charles Coutanche was standing outside the window keeping guard.

The officers explained that they had seen the shutters open and thought it their duty to inform the Boyces. They said they had tried to knock at the door but when they had no reply, PC Machon decided to climb through the window. Mr Boyce let the policer officer out through the door and went back to bed.

The paper reported that the following morning Mr Boyce was “astonished to perceive that six bottles of valuable liquor had disappeared”. The Jersey Times and British Press highlighted a second case of a hotel being entered at night, again by PC Machon.

Trial

Mr de La Mare pleaded not guilty to libel charges in the Royal Court and the case was committed for trial at the next Assizes. The case was heard on 7 January 1895 and called on a number of witnesses to examine the truth behind the libel accusations.

In summing up the case, the Bailiff said that the jury had to decide on a case that was “far from easy….. if Mr de La Mare was found innocent, and the jury decided that there was no libel in what he had published, then Machon and Coutanche should themselves be at the bar where he (Mr de la Mare) now found himself”.

He referred to Advocate Durell’s speech, which defended de La Mare, saying: “Advocate Durell had truly said that the press should be permitted to exercise free liberty. But while the press had its privileges, is also had its responsibilities and liberty should not degenerate into license.”

Mr de La Mare was eventually found innocent of libel and discharged by the court. On 11 January, just after the case was heard, PC Machon was dismissed from the Police Force and PC Charles Coutanche suspended while the Attorney-General decided whether a prosecution should be instituted with regards to the Exeter Inn incident.

Mann family

Mr Boyce had purchased the Exeter Inn in March 1871 from Gilbert Rowe, who had bought the property just a few years earlier from Sarah Hutchings, wife of Charles Henry Mann.

Both Sarah and Charles were born in England and are recorded as running the Exeter Inn in 1861 and 1851. The couple married in Jersey in 1843 and in the marriage register, Mrs Hutchings place of birth is listed as Exeter. It seems sensible to assume that this is where the Exeter Inn got its name.

Before her ownership, 22 Queen Street appears to have been run as an inn, with Vincent Albites, Manufacturer of Liqueurs, insuring his stock and utensils in trade in his dwelling house there on 27 September 1833.

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