A large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago of Seychelles could be entirely lost, unless concerted action is taken soon to control crown of thorns, warns Dr. Udo Englhardt, the expert on on the management of crown of thorns in a...
The Domaine de Val des Prés, the craft village, which is located at St Roch Au Cap, 16 km from Victoria. It shows a traditional Creole Village house as a means of promoting the Seychellois Cultural Heritage. The house is centred around the Maison de Planteur, or the house of a plantation owner. The house in Domaine de Val des Près estate Plantation was built around 1870. The gigantic timber house which once belonged to the Bailey family was sold to the government in 1972 for R1,133,348.33.
The plantation house stands on what was once known as the St Roch Estate where coconuts and cinnamon were grown. A cinnamon distillery made essential oil for the export market. It epitomized the typical plantation house that was once common in the tropical islands of the French and British colonies.
The house depicts the various activities that may be found in a traditional estate owners house. Its outside peripherals such as traditional kitchen, servant’s quarter and other amenities pertinent to the colonial era of the 18th – 19th century, showcases traditional Seychellois life in the early days of the history of Seychelles.
Over 10% of visitors to Seychelles visit this estate.
In 1926, Dr John Thomas Bradley (1872-1942) who was then chief medical officer of health in Seychelles gave the house to his daughter Dolly who in 1920 had married Douglas Bailey (1899-1974), who was employed by the Eastern Telegraph Company. He was a wealthy Anglican and fervent supporter of the Anglican Church in Seychelles. He was also a nominated member of the Legislative Council for 28 years. In the 1950s, Douglas Bailey bought the other plantation house, now known as the Creole Institute at Saint Joseph Estate at Au Cap.
This is the last authentic traditional creole homestead in Seychelles. It stands on what was once known as the St Roch Estate. Comprising many acres of land where coconuts and cinnamon were grown. A cinnamon distillery made essential oil for the export market.
Domaine de Val des Prés: modernisation
The Domaine de Val des Près was inaugurated in October 1988 by former President James Michel who was then Minister. The opening coincided with the 3rd Creole Festival which depicts the Creole people’s way of life, culture, music and gastronomy.
The government of the United States of America agreed to finance the project to create a craft village as a tourist educational and cultural centre. The construction work started in 1985, and it took 4 years to complete. The project included 12 new craft kiosks to host the most important local craft and a restaurant that serves traditional dishes. The new buildings were designed in a style that matches well with the architecture of the Plantation House.
The Plantation house was renovated while retaining all the traditional aspects of the colonial plantation houses such as the pitched roof, the dormer windows and garrets, the wide verandah that encompasses the entire quadrilateral structure of the building, and of course the obligatory masonry plinths on which it rests.
Domaine de Val des Près traditional kitchen
A covered walkway at the back of the house leads to the traditional kitchen. In the kitchen there are the wood stove, the kokosye (the half of coco de mer nut for washing rice before cooking), the lavann (a flat basket of woven pandanus for winnowing the rice), the kapatia (a basket of woven coconut fronds in which fruits and vegetables were kept), and marmit (cooking pot made of cast iron). Anything and everything was cooked in the marmit.
Domaine de Val des Prés Servant’s dwelling house
There is a replica of the servant’s dwelling house, which was named lakaz Rosa “Rosa’s house”, built of timber on squat stone pillars. The wooden walls are entirely covered with pages of newspapers and magazines. The dwelling has three compartments: the small living room with the photograph of the Royal family of Windsor, the bedroom and the kitchen.
Domaine de Val des Prés antiques
Some of the antiques that once furnished the sitting room have been preserved; a couple of chairs of artisanal wickerwork, a console table with cabbriole legs, an old bureau and an escritoire.
Pottery, paintings, model boats, and clothing are some of the exhibits in the craft kiosks. The jewel of the village is the Grann Kaz, a beauty showcasing craftsmanship and carpentry with its wooden carved balustrades – a reminiscence of the grand blanc era. In the main house, visitors can see traditional furniture including a Pollack gramophone and an old John Brimsmeade piano.