Howard Davis Hall history

Discover the story of Howard Davis Hall

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A Victorian Billiard Room with a magnificent vaulted ceiling and Ladies’ viewing gallery, lovingly restored into a modern and memorable events location.

This Grade-I listed late Victorian building, along with its grounds, Howard Davis Park, was gifted to the people of Jersey by Thomas Benjamin (T B) Davis in 1939. A self-made businessman, T B Davis became one of Jersey’s most famous benefactors, and the park and hall were named in honour of his son, Howard Leopold Davis who died at the Somme in 1916. Read on to discover more about the fascinating story of T B Davis and Howard Davis Hall.

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A framed painting on the wall

The story of T B Davis

Thomas Benjamin Frederick Davis, or T B Davis as he is known, was born at Havre des Pas, St Helier, Jersey on 25th April 1867, the son of Thomas Leopold Davis, a fisherman and ship’s carpenter. T B Davis went to sea at 16 and, after his ship ran aground in rough weather, volunteered to man a small rowing boat to save the ship’s papers and the captain’s valuables. The painter broke and T B Davies was alone and drifting in the boat, only able to stay afloat by constantly bailing with the captain’s top hat. He was rescued 36 hours later by a small Norwegian schooner who took him to England where he made his way back to Jersey, arriving on a Sunday where, it is reported, he went straight to church and interrupted his own funeral as he was believed to have been lost at sea.

After returning to sea where he rose to become a Captain, T B Davis settled in South Africa where he established a stevedoring business in South Africa, and eventually returned to the island of his birth a rich man.

The memoirs of Alexander Coutance, Jersey’s wartime Bailiff tell a fascinating story of how Howard Davis Park fulfilled a promise T B Davis made as a very young man. As a boy, T B Davis was in the choir at St Luke’s Church, and one Sunday, with a friend Walter Braithwaite, went looking for conkers in the extensive grounds of the neighbouring grand house Plaisance.

They were caught by the owner, Jurat Joshua George Falle who, according to the story, let Braithwaite go with a letter asking his mother to punish him suitably, but confined the young Davis to his cellar, cleaning boots, while the Jurat had lunch.

When he was eventually freed, T B Davis, who had a colourful vocabulary for a young boy, told the Jurat: ‘One day I shall be a rich man. I shall buy your …. house and I shall pull it down, stone by …..  stone.’

True to his word, T B Davis made his fortune in South Africa, returned to Jersey a very rich man, and bought Plaisance from Lily Falle, the Jurat’s daughter. He had to leave again for South Africa, but instructed his friend Coutanche to ensure that the building was demolished and not a stone left standing. On his return, he was less than pleased with the result, telling his friend, ‘You have left the ….  cellar in which I was imprisoned. Get it out!’

The only remaining part of the grand house to stay standing was the Billiard Room, which was later turned into a memorial hall for T B Davis' son, Howard, who was killed in World War I and is now the restored Howard Davis Hall.  

The Plaisance estate was surrounded by 10 acres of grounds, and in 1938, T B Davis commissioned J A College, a famous landscape gardener to lay out the grounds as public gardens. This was then to be handed over to the people of Jersey as a park in memory of his son Howard, who lost his life in World War One.
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T B Davis and Howard Davis Hall

Howard Davis Park was officially opened by T B Davis on Saturday 30th September 1939, and includes a statue of King George V, and a flagstaff made from the spinnaker boom of T B Davis’ racing yacht Westward.   

Howard Davis Hall, within Howard Davis Park is part of the legacy given to the island by benefactor T B Davis in 1939. This historically significant building was the billiard room of the original house, and the only part of the estate to remain standing. Over the years, Howard Davis Hall was used to display paintings and medals belonging to T B Davis and his son Howard Leopold Davis, as well as a painting of T B Davis’ yacht, Westward.

In 2021, this listed building was lovingly and sustainably restored to its original glory, and given a renewed purpose as a dedicated venue for functions, banqueting and professional events in Jersey.  

Immerse yourself in the elegance of the past and the luxury of the present at Howard Davis Hall.
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