Starting at the Old Court House pub, cross the road and stand at the corner of the harbour.
St Aubin became a thriving community in the 17th century when the fishing fleet made use of its sheltered harbour. The first pier was built in 1675, followed by a line of merchants’ houses with large cellars to store their imported goods.
Here a large stone memorial pays tribute to the many Jersey fishermen who crossed the Atlantic on wooden sailing ships each year to fish the cod banks off the Gaspé Peninsula in Newfoundland, Canada. It was a trade that brought great wealth to the Island.
Turn around and head towards the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club.
In 1862, Queen Victoria granted royal status to the ‘Jersey Yacht and Rowing Club’. Lillie Langtry became its first female member in 1892. In the 1930s, the club commodore was TB Davis, owner of the yacht Westward, which he raced many times against Britannia, owned by his friend King George V. On the beach behind the Yacht Club was the site of one of Jersey’s major shipbuilding yards in the 19th century. The majority of the timber used to build the ships was imported, including French oak, Scandinavian pine and mahogany from the Americas, brought back by the cod-traders. The largest ship ever built in Jersey - the 1,187 ton ‘Rescue’ – was built in St Aubin.
Walk up Le Mont du Boulevard, the hill next to the Yacht Club.
Ivy House, on the right-hand side as you turn the corner, is a particularly attractive 17th century townhouse with a pair of curved granite steps leading to the front door under an open timber porch with trellis work.
Pause by the Somerville Hotel.
The Somerville Hotel is an elaborately detailed late Victorian hotel with wonderful views of St Aubin’s Bay. During the Occupation, it was used as a base by the German forces and old cigarette packets and other items were found when the hotel was recently refurbished.
Turn right at the junction and look out for the Victorian stink pipe!
This decorative cast-iron stink pipe, or sewer vent, is evidence of a major Victorian engineering project to construct an underground sewerage system. The upper part of the column has been removed but the base is a good example of attractive roadside heritage.
Walk down the hill into the heart of St Aubin’s Village.
You will pass some very characterful houses as you walk down this hill.
Cross the road, turn left and take the first right into La Rue du Crocquet.
This picturesque cobbled street is commonly known as the High Street and is lined with attractive historic properties, many of them built with the profits of the cod trade. On the right-hand side, about half way up the hill, you will pass St Magloire which has a plaque on its wall. This was once the home of Charles Robin, one of the leading merchants involved in the Newfoundland cod trade. He first crossed the Atlantic in 1769 where he discovered some of the best cod-fishing grounds on the Gaspé Coast. He established a small port at Paspébiac where he developed a huge business empire trading dried cod with South America and returning with valuable cargoes of mahogany that feature in the furniture and staircases of many historic Jersey properties.
Near the top of the hill, on the right-hand side, Bentcliffe is a quirky Victorian house that began life as the wash house and laundry for a large hotel on the opposite side of the road (now demolished).
On the opposite side of the road you will find La Corderie which gets its name from the busy shipbuilding days when rope was made on a path leading from the High Street to the house.
From the top of the hill you will have a good view over St Aubin’s Fort.
Work began on the Fort in the 16th century. The tower was constructed as part of an effort to strengthen the defence of the Island in case of invasion. In the 17th century, during the English Civil War, the tower was repaired and surrounded by bulwarks (a defence position for cannon). It became a Fort whose main objective was to protect the vessels in St Aubin’s Harbour.
Continue walking down the hill until you join La Haule Hill.
Turn right and take extra care as there is a short stretch of road without a pavement.
The earliest known document referring to La Haule Manor is dated 1430 and the Lucas Brothers’ farmshop is the former gatehouse. The existing manor house was built in 1796 by Philippe Marett.
Cross the main road and turn right to walk back to St Aubin along the seafront.
From here you can get a better view of La Haule Manor. In the seaward wall, there is a series of embrasures (openings in the wall) known to have housed cannon in 1546 and 1621 as a defence against French attack. To the left of the manor house you can see a square building that was the colombier (dovecote) belonging to the original 15th century manor. This is one of only two square colombiers in Jersey, the other being at Hamptonne Country Life Museum in St Lawrence.
Head back to St Aubin’s on the seafront promenade.
This was the route of the Jersey Western Railway that ran from St Helier to St Aubin and was later extended to La Corbière along what is now known as the Railway Walk.
Walk round to the front of the Parish Hall.
St Aubin’s Station
This was originally the St Aubin’s Station and Terminus Hotel. The railway line opened in 1870 and this station and licensed hotel was built specifically to attract St Helier residents to travel upon the line. There were three stations along the line – First Tower, Millbrook and Beaumont – and the rolling stock consisted of two engines, with four closed carriages for winter and open carriages with verandas for the summer months. The railway suffered severe competition from the buses in the 1920s but continued as a summer service until 1936 when fire swept through this station and destroyed the carriages. The railway closed, the track was removed and the promenades created along St Aubin’s Bay and up to Corbière.
Turn around to look at the ‘Noya Shapla’ restaurant.
This building was originally a market hall and opened in 1826. St Aubin had a market from the 16th century onwards and this new building was paid for by public lotteries. The market declined in importance when transport facilities to St Helier became more frequent – especially with the construction of the railway. One of the market stalls was converted into a shed for housing the parish fire engine. The other was used as a temporary lock-up for those who were arrested and awaiting transport to appear in the Police Court in St Helier.
In the side wall, there is a small granite ‘poor box’ with the lettering ‘Souvenez-vous des Pauvres’ (‘Remember the Poor’) to encourage donations for the relief of the less fortunate in society.
Walk along the Bulwarks and stop outside Jacksons Yacht Services.
Jacksons Yacht Services
This is a rare example of a late 18th century sail loft and is still used for its original purpose.
Head back to the Old Court House pub for some well-earned refreshment in a building of great historical significance.
This is a fine example of a merchant’s house, dating back to 1611. The St Aubin’s fleet in this period acquired great wealth as privateers licensed by the Bailiff Sir George Carteret and the Crown. During wars between England and France and Spain the Channel Islanders were given a roving commission (Letter of Marque) to attack and capture enemy ships on the authority of the Crown. The ships and crew were known as privateers, and many valuable prizes were brought to St Aubin where Sir George’s Court of Admiralty sat in this building.
An admiralty judge had to decide whether each captured vessel, and its cargo, were, or were not, lawful prizes. If so they were sold, sometimes by auction. The large room on the first floor is believed to have been the Admiralty Prize Court Room and the cellars would have stored the goods from the captured vessels.