For 363 days of the year, Hamptonne Country Life Museum is an oasis of tranquillity. Tucked away in the lanes of St Lawrence parish, even many Jersey people scratch their heads in negotiating their way to the site. Holidaymakers – often elderly – are dropped off the no.7 bus every hour and proceed to head into the narrow lanes, taking wrong turnings, asking for directions, before finally arriving at the ticket office and shop. Most are then more eager to be shown where the toilets and café are rather than the other delights of our site, curated by Jersey Heritage.
Once settled, our guests can relax in a unique Jersey environment, a real throwback to the days when the only sounds to be heard in the country were birdsong, animal talk, the occasional smatter of the ancient Jerriaise language and perhaps the clank and creak of primitive farm machinery. Within minutes the heart rate steadies. A slow walk through the orchard clears the mind, the children delight in interacting with the chickens, sheep, pigs and Jersey calves. Of less interest to them, but fascinating to our adult visitors, are the three historical buildings which once consisted a working farm. And Laurens Hamptonne himself became the first person to proclaim – in Jersey’s Royal Square – the young Charles II as the new king of England after his father was executed.
But in mid-October, for a weekend, this all changes. Even during the Middle Ages there was room for high days and holidays and Jersey has its Cider Festival, a hark back to the days when cider production was a major Island industry. Just for two days. See the horse operating the apple crusher? The pictures are by Jersey Heritage.
And let me tell you that a day on the front desk at Cider Festival time leaves one as drained as any farm worker 😃