27th July 1640
Braye du Valle was gifted by the crown
The Braye du Valle, which separated the main part of Guernsey from the Clos du Valle, had been crown property until 1640. On 27 July that year, King Charles I awarded it to Sir Henry de Vic to thank him for his long service.
This was just the first of several changes of hands. Henry de Vic didn’t actually take ownership for another quarter century. Its transfer was held up by the disruption of the English Civil War. Less than fifty years later, it had passed to Henry de Sausmarez. He sold it to a syndicate in 1730, which sold it on once more in 1805 – this time to the British Government.
Uniting the island(s)
That last sale had perhaps the most significant impact on Guernsey as a whole. Without this final transfer of ownership, the Braye du Valle might never have been drained and the land between St Sampson and Grande Havre reclaimed under the direction of John Doyle.
Doyle’s primary motivation in draining the land was that uniting the two parts of Guernsey would make the island easier to defend. In his view, it would have been too easy for French forces, intent on invasion, to land on the northern part and launch attacks from there.
Sold, sold and sold again
The reclaimed land added considerably to Guernsey’s overall area. It was split into seven parts, six of which were sold, with the final part being retained as a military training ground. The sale raised sufficient money to fund the building of several new roads across the island.
Aside from the inlet that forms the harbour at St Sampson, the only physical remnant of the original Braye du Valle is Vale Pond.