HERITAGE-STORIES-ISSUE-1-2017 - Page 8



THE CREATION
OF THE ESTATE
DATES BACK
TO 1765
Annabella Telfair’s aquarelle - 1850
Aquarelle d’Annabella Telfair - 1850
THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME “BEL OMBRE” REMAINS A MYSTERY.
IN FRENCH, IT IS A MASCULINE ADJECTIVE (BEL, “BEAUTIFUL”)
COUPLED WITH A FEMININE NOUN (OMBRE, “SHADE”).
QUITE UNUSUAL!
Bernardin de Saint Pierre was the first to
refer to the place and write its name as it
is commonly used today. During his 1769
journey by foot around the Isle de France,
he mentioned the name “Bel Ombre” – a
place where he said 200 to 300 runaway
slaves used to live. However, Nicolas Céré,
the famous botanist, visited “Belle Ombre”
in 1782 during his tour of the island with
Intendant Chevreau.
There are two possible explanations to
these two spellings. Bel Ombre: Ombre
in French also is a masculine noun which
refers to a freshwater fish (“grayling”) in
northern Europe, but this fish does not
appear in any botanical or historical records
about Mauritius. “Belle Ombre”, however,
could refer to the expansive and generous
shade provided by the huge banyan tree
next to the estate house, which has now
reached an exceptional size. Yet, how tall
was it at that time? Let a hint of mystery
remain…
Bel Ombre’s sugar mill was the first of three
mills built during the French era, before
Beau Champ in Flacq and Beau Plan in
Pamplemousses. However, the creation of
the estate dates back to 1765, when several
plots of land making a total of 2,200 acres
were granted to Sir Simon Reminiac and
Sir Claude de la Roche Ronzet.
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737 - 1814) was a French writer
and botanist. He is best known for his 1788 novel ‘Paul et
Virginie’.
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, né le 19 janvier 1737 au Havre, et
mort le 21 janvier 1814 à Éragny, est un écrivain et botaniste
français, connu pour son célèbre roman ‘Paul et Virginie’.
06

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