Leaking information
1 Jersey still has its Visite Royale, when the perambulatory Royal
Court inspects the public roads.1 In Guernsey a similar, triennial,
inspection was the Chevauchée du Roi. The latter is first recorded in a
document of 1324.2 It has not been undertaken in any serious sense for
very many years. Its traditions are recorded. Indeed the nineteenthcentury folklorists were enthusiastic in describing the event, reporting
its route, its prescribed meals, the costumes of participants, the boon
claimed by the pions (footmen) of kissing women encountered in the
procession’s path, and so on.
2 George S Syvret was a Jerseyman who elected to live in Guernsey,
where he was a clerk of the Royal Court. He too left us an essay on the
Chevauchée, in a work published in 1832. This description, like those
of the Victorians who succeeded him, emphasizes the picturesque. He
departs from them however in the following passage, describing a
reenactment of 1825:
“De la Ville au Roi, la Chevauchée s’en fut à Jerbourg, en la
Paroisse de Saint Martin, où elle s’arrêta à la terre appelée le
Feugré, aujourd’hui en Jaonière, là tous les cavaliers
descendirent de cheval pour quelques instants, comme
d’ancienneté, mais on a omis la cérémonie qui se pratiquoit
autrefois, car c’étoit là où jadis, toute la procession Pi…oit à qui
mieux mieux.”3
“From the Ville au Roi, the cavalcade went to Jerbourg in the
parish of St Martin, where it stopped at the place called the
Feugré, today a furzebrake, where all the riders dismounted for
an instant, as traditional, but omitted the ceremony which was
See Bailhache, “The Visite Royale and other humbler visits” (1998) 2 Jersey
Law Rev 124.
La Société Jersiaise (ed), Cartulaire des Iles Normandes (Jersey, 1924), at
G Syvret, Chroniques des îles de Jersey, Guernsey, Auregny et Serk
(Guernsey, 1832), at 207.
once practised, because it was once there that all the procession
pi…ed, each to outdo the other.”
3 Now that Syvret’s learning has been exposed, we wonder if and
when the Chevauchée is to be re-enacted, as occasionally it has been,
whether in the interests of historical accuracy this part of the tradition
will be revived.4 And if so whether this Review might have particularly
picturesque prosecutions to report.
A friend confirms: “As one who participated as a pion (i.e. mere footslogger) in the re-enactment of the Chevauchée in 1966, I can say with some
authority that this aspect of the ceremony had fallen into desuetude. The
pions left their memory wheresoever they went, particularly impressing the
young ladies encountered en route who were subject to our awful attentions,
pour perpétuer et encourager les coutumes de l’Île”.

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