Parish of Vale
The parish is the second largest in size (3.4 sq miles) and second in population (approximately 10,000 residents). Until 1806 the parish occupied territory on the mainland of Guernsey, the Vingtaine de l’Epine, as well as the whole of Le Clos du Valle, an island separated from the mainland by La Braye du Valle, a tidal channel. Sir John Doyle came to Guernsey at the beginning of the 19th century and his first task was to improve the Island defences as England was at war with France. He claimed that if the French did invade the Clos du Valle he would not know whether to fight them as an Admiral or General, as it would depend on the state of the tide, so he decided the Braye had to be reclaimed.
Vale Parish was twinned with the French town of Barneville-Carteret in June 1989. The idea for the twinning was presented to the parishioners by a former Vale Deputy Dave Fletcher who had visited the town during a sailing trip.
Overlooking Grand Havre is the Vale parish church, St. Michel du Valle. It is thought that the church was built on a pagan site as there are the remains of a dolmen outside. The site of the church makes it a landmark for seafarers, and from many points in the North of the Island one can glimpse this building. Prior to 1806 the church was reached by boat at high tide, the Braye du Valle being navigable for small craft.
Several Neolithic sites have been discovered in Vale. The small burial chambers, known as Les Fouaillages, were unearthed on the golf course on L’Ancresse Common in 1978. La Varde Neolithic passage grave, built around 5,000 years ago, is one of Europe’s oldest stone monuments. In 1837 Le Varde was explored by F C Lukis who found a quantity of human bones, clay objects and stone implements. Less than a mile north of Bordeaux Harbour is the second largest dolmen in Guernsey, Le Dehus. It was discovered in 1811 and is about thirty-two feet in length. The roof of the principal chamber is formed by 8 stones. One of the stones was found to have a sculptured human figure upon it by Lt Col. T de Guernin in 1918.
In 1799 Russia were allies with Britain, fighting alongside English troops in the Netherlands. It was illegal to billet foreign troops in England under the terms of the 1689 Bill of Rights. For rest and recuperation, as the Baltic Sea had frozen for winter, they were housed in several locations including Vale Castle. Vale Castle stands on a hill on the island's east coast near St Sampson’s harbour. It used to look out over the separate island of the Clos du Valle. Archaeologists believe that an Iron Age Fort used to stand on this site in around 500-600 BC. Evidence suggests that the castle itself was built around 1370-1400. It is now home to the Vale Earth fair.
Vale is also home to the picturesque Beaucette Marina, on the north-east point of Guernsey. The marina was created when the British army blasted an entrance between a quarry and the sea. Boats can go in and out three hours either side of high tide. The marina holds up to 115 boats throughout the year.
In 1770, the original structure of Vale Mill was built about 100 yards north of the present mill. During the occupation the German’s added three observations floors of reinforced concrete faced to resemble the granite of the ancient tower and the extra stories included an anti-aircraft position. The original revolving floor and the top section with its attractive point were removed at that time. To provide camouflage the Germans fitted a false painted crown on the top and reattached the sails to the building so that any Allied aircraft flying over would assume it was not a military target.
Features in Vale include:
St Peter Port
St Pierre du Bois