Trinity Manor's rebuilding

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Trinity Manor's rebuilding

Trinity Manor.jpg

This article by Athelstan Riley was first published in the 1922 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

The manor in 1922

This article has a clearly defined and limited scope. No attempt is made to trace in any detail the history of the Seigneurie de la Trinité or the fortunes of the families who have held it successively in fief from the Crown. This task would need a lengthened study of documents, some of which are known to exist but uncatalogued and unexamined, while others are probably hidden away amongst piles of ancient deeds in various parts of the Island. Even a manuscript book, containing a history of the fief and manor by the last de Carteret Seigneur, the Comte St George, set down in a list of documents, all of which should be in existence, is missing at the time of writing.

The nature of the fief and its history will therefore be dismissed in a very few sentences, introductory to the article which has for its object a description of the manor-house and an exact and minute account of what was done to it after the present Seigneur came into possession. If, when an ancient house is placed in the builder's hands - as must be the case from time to time if it is to remain habitable as the centuries pas - such an account were always rendered, antiquaries would be spared many a puzzle and local historians would be more veracious.

Franc fief

The Fief de La Trinité is a franc fief noble tenu du roi indivisiblement a foy et hommage par service de chevalerie. The Seignour owes suit of court at the Assise d'Heritage, now held twice a year in the Royal Court, and, in addition to the tenure by knight service, he is bound to present to the King a couple of mallards when His Majesty visits the Island.

This service of grand serjeanty was duly performed in the Royal Court on 12 July 1921, after the homage. By the custom of the Island, homage is only rendered when the Sovereign comes to Jersey; the Seigneurs owing it are not bound to cross the sea for that purpose. These services are duly set forth in the Extente of 1607.

It is a curious fact that the fief is not mentioned in the earlier Extentes. But in 1315 an inquest found que ledit fieu estoit, si franc et si digne que il ne pouet ni ne debuoit ni ne navoyt oncques este departy de tout le temps donc l'homme pouet avoir remambrance.

And in the Assize Roll of 1309 the jurors of the parish of Trinity declare that Henry de St Martin and his co-heirs held one carucate of land of the lord the King and owed full relief. This presentment clearly refers to the Fief de la Trinité, which belonged in the latter part of the 13th century to Drouet de st Martin, the father of Henry.

The question of relief raises an interesting problem. The five superior fiefs of the Island, St Ouen, Rosel, Samares, La Trinité and Melesches, claim to be fiefs hauberts and there are certainly incidents of tenure, eg divisibility amongst co-heiresses, which mark them off from the other fiefs held by knight service in Jersey; they alone, too, have an order of precedence confirmed by the Privy Council. But it is objected that the amount of relief is not sufficient to support the dignity of a fief haubert. Into this legal controversy it is impossible to go in this article.

Earliest owners

The earliest owners of the Fief de la Trinité were the de St Martins, who may have obtained the fief by inheritance from the de Barentin family. The de St Martins were a powerful family with land in continental Normandy as well as in Jersey. An exhaustive account, so far as present knowledge goes, of this family has been published by Colonel W M de Guerin, in the Bulletins de la Société, wherein the line of Seigneurs de la Trinité will be found traced to the death of Thomas de St Martin in 1515. Thomas de St Martin having died without leaving issue, the fief descended to his nephew, Drouet Lempriere, son of George Lempriere, Seigneur of Dielament (an adjacent fief), who had married Thomasse, the only sister o£ Thomas de St Martin. On 18 September, 1515, the Royal Commissioners confirmed him in his inheritance.

Drouet Lempriere, who matried Mabel, only daughter or Philip de Carteret, Seigneur de St Ouen, and of Margaret Harliston, his wife, died in 1522. Their eldest son, Jean Lempriere, declared of age in 1533, became Seigneur de la Trinité. Dying in 1570, he was succeeded by his son Gilles Lempriere. Gilles Lempriere died in 1601, and the manor was inherited by Amice de Carteret, (second son of Helier de Carteret of St Ouen), by right of his wife Catherine, only daughter and heiress of Gilles Lempriere. The year previous Amice de Carteret had become Bailiff of Guernsey.

A photograph taken in Geneva of William Theodore de Carteret, Comte de St George

Seigneurs from 1610

The following are the successors of Amice de Carteret as Seignenrs de la Trinité:

  • 1610 Joshua de Carteret, son of Amice
  • 1631 Amice de Carteret, son of Joshua
  • 1654 Amice de Carteret, son of Amice
  • 1664 Mary de Carteret, sister of Amice, and wife of Charles de Carteret (son of Helier)
  • 1686 Charles de Carteret, son of above
  • 1712 Charles de Carteret, son of above
  • 1737 Francis de Carteret, son of above
  • 1760 Philip de Carteret (Rear-Admiral), brother of above
  • 1796 Sir Philip de Carteret Silvester, Bart, Capt RN
  • 1828 Elizabeth Mary de Carteret, sister of above, and wife of Sir William Symonds
  • 1850c Caroline de Carteret, sister of Lady Symonds, and wife of Gabriel Henry, Comte de St George
  • 1858 Alexander Henry Augustus John, Comte de St George, son of above
  • 1870 William Theodore de Carteret, Comte de St George, son of above
  • 1872 Colonel Graves Chamney Swan, by purchase
  • 1891 Captain Graves Chapman Swan, son of above
  • 1909 Athelstan Riley, by purchase

Colonel Swan, having purchased the fief without license, the Crown was approached in 1908 and the possession of the present Seigneur was finally confirmed by Order in Council and Letters Patent, the fief to be held "as fully and effectually as his predecessors the Seigneurs of the said Fief and Seigneurie had under His Majesty used and enjoyed the same".

With this historical preface we now come to the manor-house. Was it always on the present site? We have no evidence to the contrary except, perhaps, the name of a field adjoining the Trinity road called Le Grand Manoir.

Four ages

Although dated as 1820 in the Societe Jersiaise picture archive, this is believed to be a photograph of the 18th century watercolour of the manor before work was undertaken on the parapet as described in paragraph 4

The present house is of four ages:

1. That part of the South Front now occupied by the Grande Salle, with a doorway with rough late Gothic mouldings flanked by two windows on each side on the ground floor, a cellar below (probably the original kitchen), a first floor (now containing the Chambre du Roi, a dressing-room and a bedroom) and perhaps attics in the roof. Fireplaces were certainly in the east wall, or end of the house, on both floors, as traces of them, with their flues, were found at the restoration in 1910-18; most likely they were at the other end as well, following the usual plan of old Jersey houses. It is difficult to give a precise date to the building, but if we put it between 1500 and 1550 we shall probably be safe.

2. The extension of two bays to the west, being the part now occupied on the ground floor by the Salon, thus putting the doorway above-mentioned out of the centre of the house. The traces of the join are quite clear on the face of the wall. Inserted in the wall of the addition is a stone with armorial bearings, two shields conjoint, the dexter displaying de Carteret, the sinister de St Martin. It will be noticed that it is not one shield bearing the arms of husband and wife impaled, but two separate shields joined. No de Carteret Seigneur, married a de St Martin, but, as we have seen, at the end of the 15th century a Lempriere married Thomasse de St Martin, the heiress of the fief, and in 1578 Amice de Carteret married Catherine Lempriere, again the heiress of the fief. The conclusion is that the shield with the nine billets, "three, three, two and one", is the arms of the Fief de la Trinité, and there is other evidence that from the 16th century onward the Seigneurs, Dames, Madames, and Madames Douairières de la Trinité used these territorial arms, not quartering them, as in descent, but displaying them on separate or conjoint shields, or impaling them. An old French book on heraldry (Giliot) gives de St Martin, of Normandy, "a shield billety", so they must have been originally the personal arms of the de St Martin family, the earliest known line of Seigneurs. To return to the history of this addition, we have its precise date given in the Memoires de la famille La Cloche, section 112, published in the Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise for 1888. It was built by Amice de Carteret, Seigneur de la Trinité, in 1641-1642, probably with his wife's money, for he had married the daughter of a rich goldsmith of Paris, Marie Girard, about 1630.

3. A rude water-colour sketch of the house, made at the end of the 18th century, shows the south front of the house with a roof coming down to a cornice with modillions and a small pediment, probably of wood, in the centre of the roof. But somewhere about the year 1800, or not later than early in the 19th century, a complete alteration took place. The house was exactly doubled in size by the addition of a suite of rooms on the north side, with a passage running the length of the home. At the same time a new roof seems to have been put on and a parapet added with pseudo-Jacobean gables and dormer windows - the whole being an unintelligent attempt to give the building the aspect of an English house of the 17th century. It is possible that this back portion of the house was built earlier, in the 18th century, but the pseudo-Jacobean details were certainly added in the 19th. A small yard, with offices, stood at the east end with a wooden tithe-barn, the entrance to the house was changed to the north side, and a porch, mostly of lath and plaster treated to look like granite, was constructed in front. The interior was transformed in a similar manner, four-centered arches of wood and plaster being erected in different rooms. The house stood thus, deserted and gradually falling into decay, until the fief passed into the hands of the present Seigneur in 1909.

This early photograph, a rare picture from this angle, shows clearly the additional structure on the north side which doubled the size of the manor

4. The rest of the house, ie the east wing with offices and kitchen, the unfinished west wing and winter garden, the chapel and the porch are entirely new, being added at the restoration, 1910-13. So also are the cour d'honneur, the colombier and all the gardens, except the stone table under the great oak, at which tradition says King Charles II sat with Amice de Carteret, which is in situ on its base, evidently that of a pre-reformation cross, and the walled garden with its tower in the south-east corner. Amice de Carteret's cross had only its base, that of another pre-reformation cross, with a wooden cross coming out of it, before its restoration. There is a very strong local tradition that his heart is buried beneath this cross, but another account says that it was found in the parish church. It is certain that he died at St Lo and that his heart was brought to Jersey,


We will now describe the restoration of the old house and the new buildings in greater detail, so as to explain exactly what was done and to distinguish clearly between what is original and what is new.

The old house was entirely gutted with the exception of the ground flooring of the southern (oldest) portion, which was merely strengthened from the cellars, and the first floor of the northern part which was sufficiently good to remain, The roofs were removed, also the sham Jacobean gables and the parapets were coped with granite. The 18th century sketch, mentioned above, had not then come to light. After careful consideration it was decided to place a lofty roof, in the French style, over the old building, (the ornamental finials of the ridge were copied from one of the old homes overlooking the quay at St Malo), there being no example of a Jersey house of this size and shape to fol1ow, and to restore the house generally in the style of the neighbouring chateaux in the Cotentin as regards its exterior, with certain English modification in its interior. French casements replaced sash windows of poor design, which were mostly in a bad state, except on the west side looking into the unfinished wing. Some of the best of the old sash windows were used again in the office at the back. On the south side the sills of the windows on the ground floor were slightly lowered to make larger openings, and the terrace, between the wings in front of the house, was paved with granite. On the north side, the plinth was added, and the windows recessed in panels connecting the ground and first floors. An entirely new porch was built in granite ashlar with the écusson over the doorway, displaying Riley (before the alteration of the bearings in 1918) impaling Molesworth, thus fixing the epoch of this addition.

The new Seigneur had married the eldest daughter of Viscount Molesworth and grand-daughter of Captain George Bagot Gosset, of Jersey. She died in 1912 during the restoration of the house.

The high roof necessitated lofty chimneys. In an arch connecting the two central ones hangs a bell, specially cast at Louvain for this purpose. The slates are from the Delabois quarries in Cornwa11. With the exception of the alterations and additions, enumerated above, the exterior or the old house remains as it was.


As to its interior, one room on the east side was thrown into the entrance hall. The present vestiaire was formerly the pantry and the present library was the kitchen. The marble columns and the pavement in hall and passage are all new. The wooden staircase was unsafe and was therefore replaced by the present concrete one, with iron balustrade. This old staircase, with mahogany balustrade in the Jersey style, was partly used to give access to the top attics from the second floor. The old library at the west of the hall is the present billiard room.

The oak panelling in the Grande Salle is new, the pilasters and cornice being copied from the panelling formerly in the Old Palace at Bow and now in the South Kensington Museum. This was designed by the Seigneur and executed by his carpenter, John Parsons, of St Teath, Cornwall. The mahogany doors leading into the dining room and the smaller doors in that room, with that of the library, belonged to the old house. The granite cheminée is the old one in its original place, with the overmantel restored. The granite fireplace, now in the hall, had been mutilated and stuck above the shelf of the one in the Grande Salle by the ignorant authors of the early 19th century alterations. The stone cheminée was brought hy the new Seigneur from the Cotentin, (it came from near Valognoes). This also was imperfect and the overmantel is new.

The Salon has a curious cheminée. It is a provincial version of the style of Francois I, evidently the work of a local mason for a Norman Seigneur of the petite noblesse. It was brought from near' Valogues during the restoration, and is of stone, painted to look like marble, evidently the original treatment. The mulberry doors of this room and of the vestiaire were made at Padstow for St Petroe Minor House, Cornwall, in 1899, and brought from there. On the first floor the rooms are just as they were in the old house, except that one has been turned into a bathroom.

The old panelling in the Chambre du roi, the room traditionally associated with King Charles II, was carefully replaced, after repairs, the only part that is new being the chimneypiece and panelling over it, these having been tampered with recently and work of unsuitable and bad design inserted.

The wooden barn, which was subsequently demolished

(I used to doubt this tradition and vindicate the honour of Marguerite de Carteret, the daughter of the then Seigneur. But I am afraid I must now give up the lady! Whether her son was James de la Cloche, and the Man of the Mask, and was born in this room, I leave undetermined.)

The rough granite fireplaces in two of the South bedrooms are original and were found behind modern marble ones. All the woodwork - doors, jambs, architraves (with square bosses at the angles) etc - in the old house was replaced, only the French windows are new. All the other fireplaces and chimneypieces are new. A fireproof concrete floor was placed under the new roof, and all above this, ie the two attic floors, is entirely new, except for one or two marble mantelpieces used up here.

The cellars are untouched except for tbe concrete floor to keep down the damp. At the west end of these cellars are the remains of a double cheminée and also some charcoal fireplaces, making it clear that this was formerly the kitchen of the manor. But there must have been some alteration of the floor levels since that time.

  • A page is missing from the transcription here and will be inserted as soon as possible

These include the two small Eastern windows (corresponding with two in the west wall of the kitchen) and the three-light west window; the three external doorways, the low circular-headed doorway (with its relieving arch) being the original front dour of the ruined house it was slightly lower originally, about six inches of new jambs have been added; the two doors in the screen behind the altar loading to the vestry, and the two corbels over these doors. The carved 'Way of the Cross' over the altar, circa 1500, was brought from Copenhagen.

The chapel bell is the old bell of the Manoir. No trace of the original seignorial Chapel was discovered, unless part of a Gothic window, found in excavating for the lower south-west lawn and now built against the north side of the chapel for preservation, belonged to it. But in the sketch of the house in the 18th century, before alluded to, some small remains of what look like a Gothic building are shown at the south-west corner of the house, on the spot now occupied by the projection of the unfinished west wing. It is possible that these were the remains of the chapel which had fallen into disuse after the ecclesiastical upheaval of the 16th century.

In the wall of the new engine-house is built a stone with the arms of the fief (or of St Martin). It had been similarly built into the wall of a cottage standing on the same site.

The colombier is new. The fountain in the midst of the new Cour d'honneur is a very close copy of the Marienbrunnen an early 17th century fountain at Lucerne. The only difference is that, owing to the material in this case being granite, an Ionic column was substituted for the Corinthian baluster, wreathed with roses, of the original. The figure at the summit is an exact copy done in stone at Lucerne itself, by Professor Vetter, and so are the three bronze spouts and wrought iron brackets, which also came from Lucerne.

The restoration of the Manoir, with the additions, the planning of the gardens and the Cour d'honneur (except the fountain) were carried out from the designs of Sir Reginald Blomfield, RA, by Mr Charles Messervy, of Jersey, who was specially responsible for the construction of the great roof.

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