Bergerac: Haut de la Garenne

THE police search continues at the former children’s home in Jersey at the centre of an abuse investigation.
I’ve taken a particular interest in the story since it first broke last month.
Later series of BBC1 detective drama Bergerac used the building to depict the HQ of the fictional Bureau des Etrangers.
And it’s a remote spot in the parish of St Martin that I know well.
I visit Jersey at least once every year and usually make my way along the winding country roads to Haut de la Garenne.
Not to visit the building itself – used in recent years as a youth hostel.
But to park in the quiet country lane directly outside.
That’s my hire car in the below pic, parked where Jersey Police deputy chief officer Lenny Harper now stands to give press briefings.
Walk a short distance along that country lane, behind where I stood to take the photo, turn right and you find yourself at the top of a private road.

That’s where you can see one of the best views in Jersey, as in my first pic above, looking down on Mont Orgueil and Gorey harbour.
It’s a tranquil spot where, previously, the only sounds to be heard were the birds and the breeze.

Which is why it’s so strange now to see it at the centre of world media attention, overflown by press helicopters.
We still await the full story of exactly what happened at Haut de la Garenne.
There’s no escaping the fact that Jersey has been tainted by the story.
And, of course, the search for the full truth is all important.
But don’t let it put you off visiting the island – one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
John Nettles starred as Det Sgt Jim Bergerac in ten series – 87 episodes – of the classic drama between 1981 and 1991.
Watch box sets of the series today – or TV repeats – and you’ll spot some famous faces in their younger days.
Guest stars over the ten years on screen included Prunella Scales, Patrick Mower, Lynda La Plante, Warren Clarke, Phil Davis, Joanne Whalley, Brian Capron, Norman Wisdom, Ray Winstone, Michelle Collins, Amanda Redman, David Neilson, Tony Robinson, Steve McFadden, Bill Nighy and Philip Glenister.
The original HQ for Jim Bergerac’s department was in St Helier’s Royal Square.
But interest from the public after the first series was screened forced the TV production team to find a quieter location.
In his book Bergerac’s Jersey, first published in 1988, John wrote:
“I spend a lot of time in St Martin’s parish because the headquarters of the fictional Bureau des Etrangers are to be found there, in an imposing building at La Haute de la Garenne, just west of St Nicholas Mount behind Gorey Castle.

“It is private property and is very closely marked ‘BBC’.
“Visitors in any numbers are not encouraged for the simple reason that filming would be interrupted by their presence.
“Nor are coaches allowed along the nearby road, for the very practical reason that the road is too narrow to cater for them adequately.
“Pierson House, as Haute de la Garenne has been named, is a very ‘institutional’ looking place, and was for many years a home for deprived children.
“The interior is simple if not spartan and contains the Bureau’s offices complete with interview rooms, reception area, cells and computers.
“It is an ideal spot to film, for it is set back from the road, it is large enough to cope with generator lorries and caterer’s waggons and, above all, it is relatively quiet.”
He added: “We are much relieved to be able to film in the controllable environment of the Bureau Headquarters.
“Haute de la Garenne is on a beautiful site overlooking the great sweep of the Royal Bay of Grouville, and at the time of writing it is rumoured that when we finally leave the island, it will probably become a hotel.
“Some enterprising hotelier will then probably call it The Bureau.”
I’m sure John will be as shocked as everyone else – both in the Channel Islands and the rest of the world – by events of recent weeks.
Bergerac At The BBC
Bergerac DVDs
Jersey Evening Post
States Of Jersey Police