Trinity Manor from Old Jersey Houses

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Trinity Manor is covered extensively in Joan Steven's first volume of Old Jersey Houses, from which this article is derived.

Senior fief

The fief of this name is among the five senior ones in the Island, and although St Ouen has always held unquestioned first place, and Rosel usually the second place, there have been many arguments, and even lawsuits about the precedence of the other three.

The first Seigneurs of the fief, who also had a house on their fief, were the de St Martin family, and they held it until 1515, though it had passed to the de la Court's of Guernsey for a short time, when Thomas de St Martin, and his son Thomas, were taken prisoner fighting in the Hundred Years War in Normandy in 1452, and got permission to come back to Jersey to obtain his ransom money.

This he did by selling Trinity Manor to his brother-in-law Thomas de la Court; he then returned to Normandy and went over to the French allegiance. Lengthy disputes took place between the two families, and finally in 1485 the de St Martins were successful in claiming the Fief and Manor back for the sum of 140 Ecus.

Some time in the 1470s the manor was held by Richard Harliston and William Hareby, Governor and Bailiff for "l'espace de VII ans" as recorded in a Rental de Thomas de St Martin. Thomas de St Martin died childless and his estates were inherited by his nephew, Drouet, son of George Lempriere and Thomasse de St Martin. Drouet married Mabel de Carteret, the only daughter of the family of 21 children of Philippe de Carteret and Margaret Harliston.

Their grandson Guille died in 1601, leaving an only daughter Catherine, who married Amice de Carteret, second son of Helier de Carteret, Seigneur of St Ouen, and coloniser of Sark.

Amice and Catherine were married in 1578, but presumably inherited the Manor on the death of her father in 1601.

Disrepair

The Manor remained in the hands of the de Carteret descendants until the 19th century, and was bought by a Colonel Swan in 1872 from the de St George family to whom it had descended in the female line. For nearly a century before this the house had been used as a barracks, and had suffered accordingly, and fallen into a sorry state of disrepair. The Société Jersiaise visited it in 1907, and the account deplored the condition in which they found it then.

At that time there was a tenant, the Rev Pierre Delauney, but both house and grounds appear to have been in a terrible state, though in the summer of 1883 they had not been too bad for a church fete to be held there.

However, on the death of Colonel Swan his son decided not to live there, and the neglect was probably cumulative. Athelstan Riley bought it in 1909, and undertook extensive alterations, and while altering its character, he saved it from complete ruin, and turned it into a most impressive residence, more French than English or Jersey in character.

The first house, or houses, lived in by the Seigneurs de la Trinité was some distance away, on the east of the main road, as is shown by the field names of Les Vieux Manoirs and Le Petit Parc de St Maurice et Le Pre St Maurice. The latter names must show the position of a chapel dedicated to St Maurice.

The field name La Masse may indicate the site of a windmill. The central part of the present house dates from about 1601, when Amice de Carteret became possessed of it. The front door of this south facade is a very fine one, unusually large, being 4ft 8in wide and 8ft 2in high, with no shoulders, but ornamented dripstoncs, far simpler than those above a similar door at St Ouen's Manor, of the same date, and constructed by Amice's nephew Philippe.

His grandson, another Amice, added to the house considerably, and it is recorded by La Cloche that: "Amice de Carteret Escr Sr de la ternite en Lan 1641 com(m)encit a faire bastir son Manoir de la ternité de Nouveau et en fist grater p(ar)tie p(ar) le pied affin de la refaire de Nouveau et en lan 1642 son degré estant p(a)rachevé de bastir au mois de 8bre audit an retombit et cheut p(ar) terre.” (In the year 1641 Amice de Carteret, Esq, Seigneur of Trinity, started to rebuild his Manor house, and had part of it demolished to the ground, in order to start afresh. In 1642 the staircase being completed, it again fell to the ground in October of that year.)

Amice appears to have had bad luck in his building plans, but one cannot be sure just how much of his grandfather's construction he was altering.

The alterations carried out by Mr Riley have been most carefully described by him, as have all the stone features which he incorporated from L'Ancienneté, which he had bought in a state of ruin. These include the tourelle staircase, now in two portions in the garden; an arch from the front door of L'Ancienneté, now leading to the new chapel at Trinity; windows in the chapel and in the east wing which faces it across the north courtyard, and also the fireplace in the dining room.

Although coming from a small house of no special importance, this fireplace is of such proportions that even incorporated into the great dining room of the Manor, it dominates the room with its size and dignity.

One wishes that all who restore old buildings would leave such accurate and honest records of their alterations as Mr Riley did.

Whenever Trinity Manor is discussed, someone inevitably remembers the story of the supposed romance between Charles II and Marguerite de Carteret, sister of the then Seigneur. This story has been exhaustively studied by scholars, and has been found to rest on no firm foundation at all, stemming from a missing page in the parish birth register, the date of that page in no way supporting such a story.

One thing that has survived is the beauty of the garden, which was famous in the 17th century for its tulips as well as its birds. Tulips must have been very new in ersey then, as they were scarcely known in England at that time.

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