The sweetest place in Guernsey: Candie

From W T Money's diary of his visit to Guernsey in 1798, edited by Edith Carey, and reproduced in the Report and Transactions of the Societe Guernesiaise (1931). Not much has changed, not even the views from the Library that Money so much appreciated.

Candie was always full of children, even though Peter Mourant and his wife Sophie Carey, noted for her grace and charm, were childless. On Saturdays, Peter would look after his six motherless grandchildren, watching over them as they fished in the pond, and in the summer Mary Carey would bring her large brood of children with Gaspard Le Marchant to stay with their aunt Sophie at the house. The rest of the time Peter Mourant spent in his summerhouse, with his telescope to look out for his ships in the roads, and his books, and entertained his friends.

Saturday, September 8th, 1798

From the New Ground we descended to the Seat of Mr Mourant1 (Mr Dobrée's2 father-in-law), who has the sweetest place in Guernsey, about a quarter of a mile from the Town, yet so far above us, losing the view of its irregular pile of buildings, to command the most picturesque scenery of the other islands, the Coast of France, the Frigates in the Roads, and the Rock of Guards of this favoured land. An elegant little summer house, on a chosen spot is the point of view. There among pamphlets, papers, books and telescopes Mr Mourant, a Martyr to the Gout, chiefly passes his day, and furnishes an agreeable resort for his friends. We dine with our good friend Mr Dobrée, in company with his brother and Mr. Peter Mourant, and found additional cause to be pleased with the urbanity and kind attentions of our host. His House3 overlooks the Mole, which contains about 100 vessels of every description.

For more on the history of Candie Gardens, see De Sausmarez, R. and Moullin, J E, 'Candie Gardens', Quarterly Review of the Guernsey Society, XV (4), Winter 1959, pp. 63 ff, with a photograph of a view from 'Mrs Mourant's Garden,' the original of which is in the Library collection. Victor Coysh, in one of his notebooks [Staff, red Eliz. Coll. p. 76], says: 'The old battery in Candie Grounds formerly mounted a gun, which was fired when the mail boat was in the roads.'

The following are Edith Carey's notes:

1 Peter Mourant, son of Stephen Mourant of Jersey. Settled in Guernsey, where he probably married a Miss Mollet, as the daughter and heiress of Charles Mollet of Woodlands (La Domaillerie), was his niece.

2 Bonamy Dobrée of Beau Regard, elder brother of Elisha Dobrée, the diarist, and Samuel Dobrée, the London banker.

3 Peter Mourant bought Candie from Jean Cornelius, and either built or greatly enlarged the house which is now the Priaulx Library. The property then included the land on which the Victoria Tower and Loretto Place are now built as well as the slope now turned in to the Cemetery. This slope was later sold on to William Bell, by whom it was subsequently sold to the Town Parish.