A new museum space, dedicated to the Island’s farming heritage, is being proposed for Hamptonne Country Life Museum in St Lawrence. If approved, the building will be home to old and contemporary farming stories, interpreted and brought to life through the wealth of agricultural objects in Jersey Heritage’s collections, cared for on behalf of Société Jersiaise.
The plans, which have been in the pipeline for some time, have been submitted to Planning and Jersey Heritage hopes that, if approved, they will not only fulfil the original undertaking for the site, but also be part of the Island’s recovery from the current crisis.
Louise Downie, Jersey Heritage’s Director of Curation & Experience, said: “Nowhere else in Jersey do we adequately tell the key stories that have shaped our landscape, and continue to play a big part in the Island that we know today. The history and stories of people who created and worked in Jersey’s cider-making industry, the dairy industry and Jersey Royals are crucial stories to tell. The Jersey Royal and the Jersey cow, in particular, have put the Island on the world map. There is no better place to tell these important stories than in the beautiful farm complex that is Hamptonne.
“It is still very early days for the project, but we are keen to share it with the public and test it out with Planning to resolve any potential issues. After that, we will put together a business plan and address the question of cost. Given the effect the Coronavirus pandemic is currently having on the Island’s economy and community as a whole, we hope the project shows that Jersey Heritage continues to look to the future and how it can play its part to support the Island’s recovery.”
The plans for the new museum space have been designed by historic building consultant Antony Gibb. If approved, they would see a building on the area currently used for marquees, adjacent to the stable block. Hamptonne is owned by the National Trust for Jersey, with the Société Jersiaise having a usufruct agreement for the site. Jersey Heritage has a 99-year lease with the Société to operate the Hamptonne farm complex as a museum. Louise said: “We have developed the new plans for Hamptonne in extensive consultation with the National Trust for Jersey and the Société Jersiaise, and have already shared them with the parish and Hamptonne’s immediate neighbours. We are excited about now sharing them with our valued Members and supporters, as well as the community in general. There is still a lot of work to be done on the project, but the proposed building would fulfil our long-term ambition to increase public access to the Island’s important rural heritage stories.”
She explained that the idea of a museum building at the country life museum had been on the cards since the redevelopment of the site in the late 1980s; providing a space for collections, exhibitions and education was part of the original undertaking. However, until now, Jersey Heritage has not had an opportunity to make this a reality.
Louise said: “This is not a commercial investment; it is about a cultural return in terms of engagement and education, for which the site – as we acknowledged many years ago – is not sufficiently equipped for without a dedicated museum building.”
Although Hamptonne falls within the Green Zone, the Island Plan does allow for extensions to cultural and tourist attractions, where the designs relates to the character and heritage of the land. The proposed two-storey building would be timber-clad, with a slate roof, and has been designed to create a new courtyard space. It includes a toilet block to replace the temporary toilets that have been adjacent to the marquee site for 15 years.
Charles Alluto, Chief Executive of the National Trust for Jersey, said: “We are delighted that at long last, Hamptonne will have a fit-for-purpose museum building for interpreting and displaying Jersey’s incredibly rich and outstanding agricultural heritage. The overall design seeks to safeguard the historic integrity of the original farm complex, while still reflecting the familiar courtyard arrangement.
“As we slowly seek to recover from the pandemic, such heritage and cultural projects present a unique and important opportunity to help kick-start our economy, as well as further develop our tourism offer and skill base. It will also ensure the long-term sustainability and popularity of Jersey’s country life museum.”
There are no plans to extend the current car park as a result of the new building. Although Jersey Heritage hopes to increase the number of people visiting Hamptonne, it is anticipated that this increase would be incremental across the season and the existing parking would be sufficient. Commercial use of the proposed building would be limited and would include a maximum of six weddings, for which the marquee on the site is currently used.
Alastair Best, President of Société Jersiaise, said: “Visitor centres have become a widespread, and sometimes essential, complement to historic sites and buildings. Jersey Heritage plays an important part in safeguarding our past, and explaining it to us. Hamptonne is one of the most important clusters of vernacular buildings in Jersey; its story needs telling, and this tactfully designed proposal should help to tell it.”