The National Trust of Guernsey works to satisfy the purposes set out by its founder members and imagines they would be proud that Les Caches Farm stands out as the Trust’s newest public face. All heritage organisations share the dilemma of putting their aims and objectives into practice while facing uncertainty over issues, often outside their control, such as regulation, funding and reliance on volunteers. Les Caches Farm has been a success despite such challenges.
The potential for Les Caches Farm to offer new activities whilst remaining true to its acknowledged place in local history is substantial, and merits recognition.
The National Trust of Guernsey (NTG) was established in 1960 when a dedicated group of individuals, concerned that the natural beauty of the Island was at risk from inappropriate development, formed an Association to arouse public interest in the subject, to preserve buildings of architectural and/or historical merit and to own property which should be preserved.
One of three public-facing properties managed by NTG, the site of Les Caches Farm, generously bequeathed to the Trust by Ruth Le Huray in 1993, lies in the rural setting of Les Villets, a hamlet in the Parish of the Forest. Comprising five buildings in varying degrees of neglect or ruin, including a mid-19th century Guernsey farmhouse (Les Caches Farm), a 15th century farmhouse (Les Caches Barn), a cider press barn and associated outbuildings, a twenty year project to restore and conserve the buildings is now complete. All site buildings are considered to be fine examples of their original purpose and style and have been returned to active use.
In 2009, the restored Les Caches Barn opened to the public, with limited practical use, serving as an annexe to the NTG’s Folk and Costume Museum, rather than being identified as a distinct venue with its own prospects. During the last three years, the site’s potential to serve several further purposes has been recognised. 2014 saw the completed restoration of all the heritage buildings at the site, after which attention turned to the enhancement of outlying agricultural areas. In 2017, as part of a community project with Forest Primary School children and in partnership with four Island organisations, the NTG planted an apple orchard in an area at Les Caches Farm, previously recorded in the 1787 Duke of Richmond map, as a cider apple orchard.
Since 2017, the NTG has been working with representatives from La Société Guernesiaise, a local learned society, to understand better the site’s biodiversity and to establish the most appropriate means of land management. NTG is also working with the local award-winning Pollinator Project to enhance biodiversity potential and educational opportunities at Les Caches Farm.
A nearby reed bed is within a designated Site of Special Significance. Two adjacent fields, which have most recently been used for hay-making or the grazing of sheep, offer enormous scope for the study of nature and wildlife. Indeed, as birds, insects and small mammals are constant visitors to this natural environment, the grounds of Les Caches Farm were used during the summer of 2018 as part of a university Master’s research study into the behavior and habitat of Guernsey’s small mammals.
The Les Caches Farm site, with its restored and refurbished buildings and contents, all in their natural setting and open to NTG Members and the visiting public alike, demonstrates that NTG has fully satisfied its general purposes of preservation, restoration, enhancement, protection and exhibition as set out in the National Trust of Guernsey (Incorporation) Law, 1967.
Download the full application here.