A short history of the R.A.O.B. Jersey Province
(The last 50 years)
By David Chatel ROH (Province Webmaster) May 2000
The Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, Grand Lodge of England, Jersey Province is currently situated at Napier Hall, Nelson Street, St.Helier, Jersey. a building the Province has now owned for more than 50 years, and where all but one of its Lodges now meets. But this was not always the case, and altough information is fairly sketchy, most Lodges used to meet in various Public Houses throughout the Island - I will attempt to tell you more on this a little later, but to begin with a would like to start this short history with some details of our present location, Napier Hall.
Before coming into the hands of the R.A.O.B. Napier Hall was originally owned by a Mr Thomas Dorey who purchased it by contract dated 7th June 1919 from the Attorney of Miss Laura Marie RoseMoors Trump, wife of Mr Edward Oliver Fryes Smith. Upon Mr Thomas Dorey death, it passed to Edgar Aleck Dorey by Will, which was registered at the Public Registry by Act of the Royal Court dated the 4th March 1933.
On the 12th October 1945 Mr Edgar Aleck Dorey ( son of the said Thomas Dorey ) and being the appointed Attorney of Mr Lionel Giffard Dorey ( son of Thomas ), sold for the sum of £1200.00 the property known as Napier Hall to the Trustees of the R.A.O.B. G.L.E. ( Duke of Normandie Lodge 7362 ) namely:- Joseph Ernest Smith, Gordon David Temple, John William Le Quelenec, Edward George Le Quelenec, and Carl Bletcher Dunn. The said sale made firstly on condition that the said Trustees discharge the Seigniorial rights which may be due on the property.
Miss Gertrude Emily Gifford, widow of Mr Thomas Dorey, abandoned her right of Dower of the said property, and the Seigniorial rights were abolished for the sum of £36.00.
By contract dated 9th June 1951 Messrs. Joseph Ernest Smith, Gordon David Temple, and Edward George Le Quelenec, surviving Trustees of the R.A.O.B. G.L.E. (Duke of Normandie Lodge 7362), resigned in perpetuity for themselves and their successors as Trustees, a certain house known as Napier Hall, to Mr Edmund Hassell, Mr Edward George Le Quelenec, and to Messrs. John William Machon, Jack Joseph Houllibecq, Ernest Ainsley Le Dain, Robert Maxwell Weeks, Winter Cousins Le Cocq, and Clarence Henry Le Masurier, new Trustees of the R.A.O.B. G.L.E. (Province of Jersey) And by that Act dated 16th July 1965 the Court ordered the registration in the Public Registry a declaration made on behalf of the said society by which - Mr Kenneth George Bisson, Roger Noel Trehorel and Kenneth George Marie were named and appointed Trustees to hold the said property - jointly with the said Messrs. Ernest Ainsley Le Dain, and Clarence Henry Le Masurier.
From Deeds dated 27th August 1974 it states that the said Ernest Ainsley Le Dain being deceased, that Messrs. Clarence Henry Le Masurier, Kenneth George Bisson, Roger Noel Trehorel, and Kenneth George Marie have submitted their resignation as Trustees -- and that by resolution of the Committee of Housing of the said R.A.O.B. G.L.E. (Jersey Province), held on 21st July 1974, which was confirmed by the Executive and lower lodges, -- Mr Herbert Jones, Eric Marrett and Geoffrey Thomas Warner were named and appointed New Trustees to hold the reality in Trust for and on behalf of the said society or association known as the R.A.O.B. G.L.E..(Jersey Province), and this was lodged with the Royal Court and Public Registry on 27th August 1974.According to P.G.L. records and Management attendance's, Mr J.W.Adams was elected a Trustee in 1978, but this was never registered with the Court.
By Act of the Royal Court dated 20th March 1979 the Trustees were confirmed as Herbert Jones and Eric Marett. and John Edward George Martin who was elected Trustee in place of Geoffrey Thomas Warner. Again according to P.G.L. records Alan Potts was elected Trustee in place of John Edward George Martin in October 1985, but again this was not registered with the Royal Court. On 14th January 1988 Frederick William Guy was elected as Trustee to replace Eric Marett, and this appears not to have been registered also. Likewise in 1990 Royston Crocker was elected by P.G.L. as Trustee to replace Alan Potts, and was also not registered with the court. Following the election of Royston Crocker as Treasurer of the R.A.O.B. Club and Institute, David John Chatel was elected Trustee by P.G.L. on the 13th May 1993.
In 1994 the club again started a programme of refurbishment's and improvements, which necessitated the use of a loan, and following legal enquires the registration of all three Trustees namely :- Herbert Jones, Frederick William Guy and David John Chatel was confirmed by the Royal Court and the Public Registry on the 17th February 1995.
The original deeds of 3rd November 1945 and 27th August 1974 are now held by the Trustees, as are the Original and Photostat copies of the latest registration by the Royal Court.
It will be noted from the above that Herbert Jones has been a Trustee of the Jersey Province for 26 years this year, and the building has been in the hands of the R.A.O.B.for 50 years
Whilst compiling this short history of the purchase of the building, and the Trustees that were elected too look after the property, I decided that it may be worth reseaching a little bit further to try and find out some of the buildings previous history, and so a visit to the libary of the Societe Jersaise was the next step. After several searches in various Island records I found the following information, which whilst not complete by any means, may be of interest to some of you.
No doubt the building was put to many uses during its varied and checkered life, and during that time it appears to have had several owners, but the few details that I have found, seem to be the only surviving record of its past history.
At about 1850 many parts of the town were being built upon, not least the area around the old brickworks and in particular what we now call David Place, and its surrounding fields, the majority of the area being very marshy, exept for the brickworks which is where the Jersey Gas Company now stands. At that time the main route from the North into town was down Trinity Hill, Town Mills, along Byron Road and stright onto the weighbridge area, Byron road being the only route into town from the North. At approx 1854 it was decided that due to the large number of people moving into this area of town, due mainly to religious convictions etc, that several new roads needed to be built along with a new church.
Thus the appearance of St.Marks Church, St.Marks Road, Stopford Road, David Place, Nelson Street, Vauxhall Street etc. It was probably around this time that many of the rich gentry, found they could make a very nice profit, by selling off their land in the area, to the many people who wanted to move into this NEW part of town. And it appears that whoever owned the land where Napier Hall now stands was one of them. Looking back through old records and Almanacs of the time, it can be seen that one certain family seemed to own several propertys in the new up and coming area of town now known as Vauxhall street and Nelson Street, and according to some records, owned Napier Hall, Napier House which is now 3 Nelson Street, and also possibly Nelson House and Nelson Hall, all of which were in Nelson street, quite probably they owned much of the surrounding area, for we now know that Napier Hall had Seignorial rights attached to it.
Around 1855 the British Press and Jersey Almanac shows a Mr Trump as being the owner of Napier House, a year later it shows him as living at Nelson Hall, but I believe this to be an error on the part of the British Press Almanac, for the next year he was at Napier Hall, where he seems to have resided until the early 1900's. Several members have spoken of rumours that at one time the building was a house of ill repute, but this fact has never been proved as far as I am aware. The building at some time also housed the Jersey Musical Union. and in 1919 it passed to Mr Thomas Dorey, whose family eventually sold the property to the RAOB Duke of Normandie Lodge (Trustees) in 1945.
Since 1945 the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes have used this building as their headquarters and meeting place, and several modernisation programmes have been implemented, namely in 1974 when the club underwent a major refurbishment, and again in 1995 when an extension was built over what used to be a small yard, to create a new cellar and storeroom, with a new bar above serving the club room. At the time of compiling this brief history of such a wonderfull buiding, the Officers of the Club have changed again, the present Trustees being Mr. Herbert Jones, Mr. Christopher Cox, and Mr Martyn Blackmore. Mr. David Chatel went on to become Secretary and Licensee of the Club from 1996 till he resigned at the end of 1998, Mr. Royston Crocker is again back on board as Treasurer following a short break from his duties, and Mr. Fred Guy has retired as Trustee after many years serving the Club. Membership of the Club and the Order has declined in recent years due to a change in personnal circumstances of many of its members, the sad death of many of its stalworts, and a general decline in social activities of the general public at large. I doubt if the premises will ever be a thriving hub of activity that it used to be, but the charitable work of the Order will, I hope, go on for many years to come.
At the present time there is talk of selling this fine building as it is now too large for our needs, and needs major work which we can ill aford, however, the building has served many generations well, and was somewhat of a landmark in this new part of the town.
Since compiling this brief history of Napier Hall and the trustees of the RAOB, progress has been made on the sale of the building, and at the present time (May 2000) we are in the throws of finalising the sale to a developer, who plans to demolish the old building in favour of a new purpose built Clubroom and Lodge with flats above and parking at the rear. The RAOB will still own the ground floor of the new building, which will be designed to accomadate disabled members etc, which we cannot do at present. Also we will have gained a substantial sum of money from the sale, which will hopefully see us thrive well into this new millenium.
What of the future? - I cannot answer that, but I do know one thing, If the members of the Jersey Province, and the R.A.O.B. in general, do not move with the times, and find ways of attracting new members - we will not survive the next 100 years
What a shame and waste it would be, to see the decline of such a noble brotherhood, and one that has done so many good things for charity and its members over the years.
If you are still reading this, and agree with me, Please get in touch, and find out more about the R.A.O.B. and about the people who make it tick.
yours faithfully and fraternally,
Bro. David John Chatel ROH
Jersey Province Webmaster
Information is presently being gathered on the history of the Jersey Lodges prior to 1950, and will appear on another page as soon as possible