Celestine and Yves rented Les Prevosts (pronounced leh prev-oh) farm in 1920 from Elizabeth AG Allez. The lease [link to text] was for the house, le Jardin Elizabeth and 3 fields: Le Grands Hougesin, Les Buquieres et Le Courtil Mouton, all in St Saviours. According to the lease the rent was 88 pounds sterling per year, payable half-yearly.
The farmhouse is built of indestructible grey and pink granite. It’s age is evident in the thick walls, small windows and short door frames. On the lintel above the front door there is a date of 1740 (we think this is when it was re-built).
It is said to have been built on the site of an old round house, [S: Jack Keen, neighbour, had a book about old Guernsey farmhouses.] One of the remarkable features of the house is the unusual staircase which curves to the left rather than the right – apparently it was built for a left-handed swordsman! In Celestine’s time it had no electricity or hot water. The main rooms were lit by parafin lamps. But when Celestine retired at night, all her late night reading was done by candlelight. No running water, it had to be pumped from the well, and heated on the coal stove if necessary.
The kitchen also had a furze oven to make bread, sitting inside the huge chimney. There was a conservatory off the kitchen (one wall glassed) where the copper for washing clothes was located.
The farm land totaled about 49 vergees (2 1/2 vergees to an acre, about 16 acres). “Le Jardin Elizabeth” was across the road, it was about an acre in size and walled to keep out the North Wind. The walls varied from 15 to 30 feet in height. The boys used to get their thrills by walking around the wall, balancing precariously on its’ 1 ft width! It contained a greenhouse for grapes, as well as fruit trees (apples, pears), berries, rhubarb, and potatoes. A classic french “potager” garden.
The farm was self-contained except for one field down the road called Les Jaonnets [S: PMG. no mention of this in the lease we have, was most likely leased from someone else]. The primary function of the farm was as a dairy, with 10 or 12 Guernsey cows. The cows were moved sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, each pegged out in one of the fields. They were brought in to the stable every night, and due to the mild Guernsey winters could be pegged out every day. Every cow had a written pedigree, and a “formal” name like “Etoile de Prevosts” but were mostly called pet names, like Primrose. To produce milk, they had to have calves, so when the time came they were walked to a stud bull. Guernsey took it’s cattle industry seriously – when each calf was born it had to be registered and an official drawing made for the States.
A dairy is unremitting work and the whole family was expected to help with the milking, which was done by hand twice a day, at 6 am and 4 pm. The majority of the milk was collected by a [States truck?] but Yves also had his own milk run, using a motor van. We still have a small accounts book [document list]. Celestine made her own butter and cheese and grew the family’s vegetables in the garden.
The farm looked like a typical European farm of it’s time. Small green fields, with hedges made of earth and bushes. There was a large carthorse used for ploughing, kept in it’s own stable in front of the house. Yves was a trained farrier and wheelwright (skills learned in the army ?). He was very mechanically minded and looked after all his own machinery.