A 1939 history of Rosel Manor

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The manor

From The Islander 1939

In the heart of the Rozel Manor woods there is an ancient mound which down from the mists of history has been known as the Mont des Pendus. An ancient oak with a stout horizontal branch at a convenient height for its fell purpose crowns the summit, and the steep, well-wooded sides of the glen frown down upon the spot marked X.

Seigneur and justice

The Dame of Rozel, Mrs Riley, told us that in her grandfather’s time, the chains still drooped from the overhanging bough to remind one of those not so far off feudal times when the Seigneur was the Lord of Justice, high, middle and low, and carried out his own sentences.

When we think of the comparatively trivial offences a man could be constitutionally executed for even 100 years ago, we are inclined to surmise that the ‘’Mont des Pendus’’ earned its name honestly, and fulfilled its destiny with efficiency and despatch.

A few yards to the north of this place of death runs the road of life which follows the valley from the Moulin de la Perelle near the shore to the old manor house; besides the Seigneur, only the miller with his packhorse and wheelbarrow was allowed on this sunken paved road, which was designed for one-way traffic only and is walled in so that no compromise is possible. The exclusive character of this road is still maintained today as a tribute to a very venerable – and from the Seigneur’s viewpoint – practical tradition.

Winding up from the shore, parallel to the miller’s road through the valley, past the artificial lake to the chapel, is the Rue de Perquage, which was open to fugitives seeking sanctuary. If they succeeded in running the gauntlet and eluding pursuit until they were inside the ancient chapel, they were given a respite of three days. The historian, however, has failed to record what was the procedure when the three days grace had expired. Our guess is they spent the time in fasting and preparation for the longer journey which followed the short mile to Mont des Pendus. But as we said, history does not reveal.

Existing records show that in early Norman times the De Barentins were for some 200 years, until 1367, Seigneurs of Rozel, the best known being Drew, or Drogo, de Barentin, Warden of the Isles in 1220.

The manor and fief acquired by Raoul Lempriere and Guillaume Payn confirmed by Royal Charter from Richard II is still in existence at Rosel Manor. The descendants of this Raoul Lempriere have been in possession of the fief from that date except for a period of100 years in the 17th and 18th centuries, when it was in the hands of the de Carterets and their descendants, and eventually reverted to the family through the marriage of Charles William Lempriere, Seigneur of Diélament, to the daughter of Anne Corbet, who was Dame de Rozel through her grandmother, Anne de Carteret. Charles Lempriere then incorporated the two fiefs under Royal Charter of 1781.

Col and Mrs Riley

Vivier and chapel

Ascending the valley by the Rue de Perquage, we come to the vivier which is the ancient fishpond of the manor, held by royal warrant. The proximity of the “mount of the hanged” was a sufficient deterrent to would-be poachers of the seigneur’s carp. Today Colonel Riley is more interested in his fine colony of wild mallard ducks imported from Trinity Manor, who make their home on the lake. These ducks sometimes fly over to St Ouen’s Pond, but always come back to breed at Rozel and Trinity. Natural history observers have seen them at St Ouen and deduced wrongly that they were visitors from France.

Higher up, but still on the valley floor, we come to the ancient chapel, which is probably a contemporary of the Hougue Bie. Allowed to fall into ruin since the Reformation, it was restored in 1844 by Philip Raoul Lempriere, and re-consecrated. It is dedicated to Ste Marie, and was probably built in the 11th century.

The pews are built from oak taken from the estate, which is perhaps the most thickly wooded of any on the island. There are an unusual variety of trees in the woods, ranging from denizens of the sub-Arctic, to the sub-tropic. The deciduous cypress tree is claimed to be the second tallest in the British Isles, the tallest being at Kew Gardens.

Deep down in the woods is a tragic reminder of the days when Jersey grew and cut its own timber – a huge section of oak loaded on to a wagon which had caved in under the strain.

The records show that this section was purchased by Mr J W Huelin from the Seigneur of Rosel, but the load provied too big for the wagon and they both remain, slowly disintegrating beneath a dense panoply (presumably the write meant ‘canopy’ – Editor) of invading creepers.

The choir stalls in the chapel are faced with early French wood carvings of the Apostles and the Evangelists, with the Seigneury coat of arms beneath. These carvings date to the early Middle Ages. Two of the stained glass windows were designed by John Everett Millais, who was a protégé of Philip Raoul Lempriere, Mrs Riley’s great grandfather.

Millais was discovered and helped with his education by the Seigneur, and the family have several very interesting illustrated letters from Millais in their possession, as well as a few samples of his work, principally his earlier efforts. We reproduce a pencil sketch of the Lempriere family made by Millais nearly 100 years ago. It was a copy from a larger painting, and shows Philip Raoul Lempriere at the centre of a group including his family and immediate relations. Millais was born in 1829 and died in 1896.

The manor's farm buildings are where the ancient manor stood

Ancient manor buildings

The chapel adjoins what was in olden times the ancient manor house. Today the remains of the old buildings have been converted into up-to-date stables, the home farm, and the outbuildings.

The old cider press, horse propelled, is one of the few which are still in use on the island and according to Colonel Riley, can produce as much cider as there are apples and appetites.

The colombier, or dovecote, is one of the old seigneury dovecotes which are not uncommon on the island. A Royal Warrant was needed for an individual to possess a dovecote in which pigeons were raised for food. Colonel Riley explained that naturally the old aristocracy tried to limit the number of warrants on the island, as the pigeons were expected to live on the other man’s corn.

In feudal times it was no doubt important that constant food supplies should be at hand, and if possible, self-creative in case of siege.

Overlooking the head of the valley on the height of land to the north-west of the old manor buildings stands the present Rosel Manor house. It was built in 1780 of granite and Daniel Messervy in his ‘journal’ mentions a visit to Rozel while work was in progress in 1770.

In 1820 Philip Raoul Lempriere increased the extent of the building and added turrets, castellations and towers, using Roman cement for the purpose, and facing the granite of the older parts of the building with the same material.

The late Seigneur carried out extensive alterations and decorations between 1869 and 1898.

Letter from Canada

A most interesting history of the Rosel Seigneury was published by the Weekly Post some months ago, with excellent pictures showing the exterior and interiors of the manor house, apropos of which, Mrs Riley received a letter from a lady in Regina, Saskatchewan, who had seen this souvenir edition of the Illustrated Post and was overcome with homesickness.

She was born and raised near the Rosel estate and remembered 50 years back when Mrs Riley’s grandfather conducted the service and her grandmother played the organ in the Manor chapel.

Walking in the woods a few days after the receipt of the letter, Mrs Riley met the writer, similarly occupied, quite by accident. The lady had arrived home almost as soon as her letter.

The manor estate comprises about 120 acres of farm, park and woodland, with a surprising variety of trees and shrubs. The woodman’s axe rings no more in the Rozel woods – no line of bobbing floats breaks the surface of milord’s fishpond on Thursday afternoon. Pigeons have long since ceased to flutter in hundreds around the cote, disturbing the stillness with their billing and cooing. But to Colonel Riley’s dalmation Maitre Philippe and Mrs Riley’s Welsh corgi Maitre Bun there is absolutely nothing more needed in the grounds and woods of Rozel to make a dog happy.

Memories there may be, with ghosts a few, but the general atmosphere of the manor is very much alive today; it stands on top of the past, not anchored to it.

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