Largisses, c. 1932
'Un morchié de terrain qui n'a pas été frumai.' From the Star.
Another one going.
In a few years' time the few remaining largisses will probably have all but disappeared from the country parishes, and doubtless one of them will soon experience the fate of those which have preceded it. Here it might be premised that up to the time of Major-General Sir John Doyle, who was Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey from 1803 to 1816, there were no main roads here, pedestrian and vehicular traffic (which was very limited), being confined to narrow lanes. Many of these still exist and give an idea of the thoroughfares which answered our forefathers' requirements. In a few cases, notably near Cobo Church, the raised footpath constructed of large flat stones is still to be seen.
Footpaths of this kind in low-lying places were absolutely necessary as the roadway was usually flooded or very deep with mud. As the lanes were, as already stated, very narrow, having been constructed before the advent of any kind of vehicle in the island, when two carts met, it followed that neither could pass, and it necessitated one backing for a long distance ere a friendly opening into a field was reached. So, to avoid this, where long lanes existed, recesses a few yards in length, and about the width of a cart in depth, were constructed, and even up to the present time have occasionally been found very useful.1
Of late years, however, the proprietors of the land, which was reduced to a not inappreciable extent—the land facing a fairly wide road, which had been constructed through the widening of the lane—thought the matter over, and arriving at the conclusion that the largisse had fulfilled its requirements, applied to the Royal Court for permission to enclose the largisse and straighten it off instead of allowing it to remain as a deep and useless indentation.
The latest instance of this is that Mr Frederick Mahy, proprietor of part of a field known as 'Les Mares Pellées', Vale Parish, who proposes to apply to the Royal Court for permission to enclose a largisse adjoining the above-mentioned property, and announces in last Saturday's Gazette de Guernesey that on Tuesday next, the 8th inst. at 6 pm, the Constables and Douzeniers of the Vale will meet at the place in question—Les Petites Mielles—to make their report on the petition they have received from Mr Mahy. All persons who wish to oppose his requête are notified to be present at the place and hour indicated in order to make good their opposition.
1 A note in the margin says: Such recesses were known as gensages, and were required by law. See Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, 33, p. 84. 'Friquets and largisses'.