A Praslin full of history

Go down

A Praslin full of history

Post  Sirop14 on Sun Apr 19, 2015 2:06 pm

A Praslin full of history

17-April-2015
In her own special way, Praslin is the epitome of tropical splendour: Panadol-white beaches, scorching sunshine and pre-historic forests of palms. On behalf of the National Heritage research section, Tony Mathiot discovers that the island is also fraught with history, heritage and hidden…

It was on September 21, 1768 that a boat named La Curieuse, one of the two vessels of the Marion Dufresne Expedition, dropped anchor in the small bay on the east side of the island. A detachment of five officers under the command of Capt. Lampéraire went ashore, and there on the beach of Anse Possession, they set up a stone of possession and erected a small guard-house further away. They hoisted the Fleur de lys and named the island Praslin, in honour of César Gabriel de Choiseul, duc de Praslin (1712-1785), a French diplomat and statesman, who was at that time Secretary of State for the Navy – that is, named for the third time – because in 1774, during his second expedition in the Indian Ocean Lazare Picault (1700-1748) had given it the apellative Ile de Palmes for evident reasons, of course. A little more than a decade later, in 1756, when he came to take pre-emptive possession of Seychelles Capt. Nicholas Morphey (1724-1774) had named it Ile Moras in honour of François Marie Peyrenc de Moras (1718-1771) who was married to the daughter of Jean Moreau de Seychelles (1690-1761) and who on April 24, 1756 replaced his father-in-law as financial controller in the governmentof Louis XV (1710-1774).

The stone? Well, it was smaller than the 57cm by 57cm one that Morphey placed on Mahé and that can be seen in the National History Museum. It was still in situ in 1773 when Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Perouse (1741-1788) a French navigator, visited the Seychelles islands. It was at the end of the 18th century that the inhabitants began to settle on Praslin and their names are enshrined on the island. They are eponyms of Praslin. Among the first ones were: Auguste Vaulbert who settled at Anse Volbert on the north coast, Jean Marie Lazjou (1771-1798) of Anse Lazio, Adrien La Prude (1814-1892) of Rivière La Prude that flows down to the sea at Takamaka, Louis Henri Jerome Dumont, a public notary of Anse Dumont, Davidson Laporte…now there is a Rivière Davidson that flows into Baie Pasquière (named after Louis Marie Pasquière, also one of Praslin’s first settlers). By 1811, when the British had taken possession of the Seychelles there were 10 families residing on Praslin cultivating cassava, rice and manufacturing coconut oil.

First religious service

The inhabitants of Praslin experienced their first religious service on March 6, 1853 when a mass for Holy Communion was held in a small church covered with coco de mer leaves at Grand Anse by the first civil chaplain George Ferdinand Delafotaine (1811-1879) who named the church St Mathew. It was consecrated on May 18, 1859.The Catholic church arrived six months later, when father Theophile Pollar (1826-1889) baptised 30 persons in a church at Anse Dupont on October 19, 1853. The parish of Baie Ste Anne was created in 1853 and the actual church of Ste Anne church was blessed on April 11, 1945 by Mgr Olivier Maradan (1899-1975). A deed of purchase informs us that the Roman Catholic Mission acquired land at Anse la Mour, Baie Ste Anne on November 4, 1869 during the time of the Apostolic prefect Ignace Galfione (1815-1881). The parish of Grand Anse was created in 1878 and the present church of St Joseph was blessed on April 26, 1906 by Bishop Marc Hudrisier (1848-1910). Although most of those charming traditional Creole dwellings of auld lang syne have disappeared in the momentum of progress and development, Praslin has coyly retained at least a pathetic sample of those colonial homes that remind us of the sheer beauty and rustic elegance of our vernacular architecture. One of them is the old house of Davidson Laporte at Pasquière. It’s an old wooden house, erected on stone plinths, constructed with hardwood timber from the forests of Pasquière. Fortunately, one of the oldest traditional gems can still be seen at Côte d’Or. Affectionately known as kot Zouzoun, it’s an imposing structure of wood built on pillars that supremely asserts its presence amidst the lush greenery of Côte d’Or. Even the dilapidated house of corrugated iron sheets at Cap Sammy tantalises our imagination. Its utter simplicity seems to exude a nostalgic fragrance that lures the beholder into a sentimental daze. An icon of Baie Ste Anne must surely, indubitably, definitely, be the ‘kalorifer house’ of Anse Takamaka. A copra kiln ingeniously transformed into a quaint little guesthouse. Just imagine. An early 29th century copra factory that nostalgically evokes the plantation hardship of our agricultural economy artistically restored, embellished and converted into holiday accommodation!

The ruins

And there are ruins. The ruins of the old hospital at Baie Ste Anne and the old police station at Anse Boudin. The ruins of a cinnamon distillery at Anse Takamaka. There is evidence that, once upon a time, Anse La Blague also produced cinnamon oil for the export market. It’s fascinating, isn’t it? A century ago, the cinnamon forest of Praslin provided the pharmaceuticals and the confectioneries of Europe with their precious ingredients. Once upon a time those buildings had their noble purpose. They were of service to a few generations of Praslinois inhabitants who now rest in the old cemeteries on the island.
Many septuagenarians may recall with dread the day Praslin almost lost its precious Vallée de Mai – those 45 acres of primeval forests which the government had bought in 1948. A raging fire that started at Côte d’Or on Sunday July 23, 1961 would have certainly destroyed the entire area if not for the courage and strength of some 150 men forming many fire fighting patrols. By the time the fire was extinguished on Tuesday July 25, 1961 it had consumed 75 acres of forests.

The Thorp square

Many inhabitants will remember an event that took place two months before that great fire – precisely on Tuesday May 2, 1961. It was a day when Governor John Kingsmill Robert Thorp (1912-1961) officially opened the Baie Ste Anne playing field, naming it Thorp square. That day, he also laid the foundation stone for the Sir John Thorp Community Hall. Those two social amenities must have been of useful service to the Praslinois inhabitants. The governor, as we know drowned in the sea at Grand Anse Mahé August 13, 1961, that is, three months after he had visited Praslin.

Today, the inhabitants of Praslin would derive a modicum of pride to learn that their ancestors made their patriotic contributions to the creation of two of Seychelles’ most cherished historical features. In 1902, Praslin gave R228.33cts towards the erection of the Victoria Clock tower which Governor Ernest Bickham Sweet Escott unveiled on April 1, 1903. The population of Praslin was then 1,621 inhabitants (the population of Seychelles was 19,232). The entire cost of the clock tower was R6,447.62 cts. In 1920, Praslin donated R10.60cts for the construction of the New Seychelles Hospital at Mont Fleuri, the total cost of which was R265,700.

In 1883, an intrepid and adventurous lady painter, Marianne North (1830-1890) dared to venture on a journey to our islands, at the time when a smallpox epidemic was causing terror and panic among the population. During her sojourn, she visited Praslin and the ‘tableaux’ that she made there are absolutely awesome, because, in her own distinctive style, she succeeded with her artistic skill to capture the island’s scenery of that period. Praslinois inhabitants should see those paintings… just as they should read Brothers of the sea – the heart-wrenching story of a boy and a dolphin at Anse Boudin. The book was first published in 1966. Its author was Denis Ronald Sherman (1934-1987), a British writer who arrived in Seychelles in the early 1960s and immediately had a fascination for Praslin where he bought a property at Anse Boudin and settled down with his Seychellois wife Sylvianne (née Delpeche). Anse Boudin inspired him to write two other novels – The sinner (1970) and The Boat (1973).

So Praslin has been immortalised in art. As irresistibly enticing as its tropical resplendence is, its history, its heritage and its hidden events are also a magnificent aspect of its island charm.

http://www.nation.sc/article.html?id=245131

Sirop14

Posts : 7748
Join date : 2008-06-02

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Heritage Week 2015 - Official launch focuses on Praslin’s hidden heritage

Post  Sirop14 on Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:51 pm

Heritage Week 2015 - Official launch focuses on Praslin’s hidden heritage

20-April-2015



Praslin’s hidden heritage was in the limelight at the official launch of this year’s National Heritage Week last Friday at the Raffles Hotel on the island.

The highlights of the official launch were the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoU) for the preservation and promotion of two heritage sites on Praslin. Christopher Gill of Ile de Palme residence signed for the Takamaka Plantation Estate which in the past had ‘patchouli’ and cinnamon distilleries while Joel Confait signed for the ‘Four Laso’ heritage site at La Pointe. The family has tourism-related businesses in the area.

Maxwell Julie of the Seychelles Heritage Foundation (SHF) signed both MoUs on behalf of the SHF while Grand Anse Praslin District Administrator Moses Barbe signed on behalf of the district.

http://www.nation.sc/article.html?id=245150

Sirop14

Posts : 7748
Join date : 2008-06-02

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum