Could ‘unique’ watermill be restored to working order?

Could ‘unique’ watermill be restored to working order?

La Gigoulande Mill, opposite Granite Products quarry at the head of St Peter’s Valley, was one of nine Royal water mills where tenants of Crown-owned land were obliged to take their corn for grinding.

Also known as Le Moulin de Gigoulande, today it lies in a ruinous state but during its working life it was a rare and important example of a double overshot watermill – where water drives the upper wheel before falling onto the lower wheel to turn that as well.

Her Majesty’s Receiver General for Jersey, David Pett is responsible to the Crown for the maintenance and upkeep of the Crown Estate in Jersey and the mill ruins falls under this remit.

Over the past few months he has co-ordinated works to clear the site of undergrowth and to remove trees that had grown in the ruins. And specialist heritage stonemasons have been employed to stabilise the remains of the mill buildings.

He said: ‘A surprising amount of the mill survives today beneath the undergrowth, including the walls of the watermill standing to first floor, wheel pits, the mill leat, and the foundations of the miller’s house and associated stables and outbuildings.

‘As a double overshot watermill, Gigoulande Mill represents an unusual and unique example of national significance. Should funds be available, I would welcome the opportunity to continue the project further for an authentic reconstruction of the mill to reflect when it was last worked.’

The two other Royal Mills in St Peter’s Valley were Gargate, which no longer exists, and Moulin de Quètivel, which has been restored to its original condition by the National Trust for Jersey.

The trust has also restored Tesson Mill, again in St Peter’s Valley.

Jersey Heritage has researched the history of La Gigoulande for Mr Pett.

The organisation’s report says: ‘According to anecdotal history, Islanders recall stories of the deliberate destruction of the mill by the Germans during the Occupation after it was discovered that escaped Russian slave workers, who had accidentally killed a local grocer Mr Le Gresley, were using it for shelter.

‘However, Jersey Archive records show the mill buildings were requisitioned by the German forces in 1944, who reduced the height of the watermill and installed an electrical generator. The full truth behind Gigoulande’s demolition is yet to be uncovered.’

Court records of January 1645 show that Jean Maresq, a married man, was found at night shut in Gigoulande Mill with Jeanne Coulomb, who was seized by officers fleeing in a chemise. He was condemned to be flogged on two consecutive Saturdays and ordered to behave, on pain of banishment. His companion was also flogged and banished because she was an ‘alien’.

Royal mills

nThe origin of watermills goes back to very ancient times and they were used by the Romans

nIn feudal times only a seigneur or a lord were allowed to own a mill but only if he owned the land on both banks of a waterway

nHis tenants had an obligation to use the seigneur’s mill or pay a fee to be discharged from this obligation

nThe Royal mills were: Quètivel, Gargate and Gigoulande in St Peter’s Valley, two in Queen’s Valley, Quevitel in St Lawrence, Grands Vaux and Mal Assis in Grands Vaux Valley and in Le Mourier Valley

nThe tenants of Crown-owned land were obliged to use a Royal mill, as well as being responsible for its upkeep and repair

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