D’Hautrée

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Jersey houses

St Helier:

d'Hautree


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d'Hautree in 1962

D’Hautrée was a house standing on St Saviour’s Hill, built in 1763 by Michel Bree.

At the 1861 census d’Hautrée was occupied by General Helier Touzel and his daughter Jane Touzel, aged 55.

Public Registry contracts reveal that Helier Touzel had bought the property nearly 50 years earlier, in December 1812, from Major-General William Robertson, who had purchased the house from Philippe Pallot and his wife Rachel Bree the previous year.

Rachel was the daughter of Michel Bree, who is recorded as purchasing the land in 1734 and it is believed the house itself was built in 1763.

Helier Touzel's will

In Helier Touzel’s original will of 1860, he asks both of his sons, Helier and Thomas Percival, to relinquish their rights to the property for a sum of money. He states that he would like it go his daughter Jane ‘who is much attached to d’Hautrée, to prevent it being sold to a stranger and to preserve it in the family’.

Jane must have been devastated when Helier had a change of mind, added three codicils to his original will, and sold d’Hautrée to Jean de Caen in June 1863. Such was her attachment to the property that in July 1866, following her father’s death, she bought it back from de Caen. She lived in the house for another 27 years until her death in 1893.

In her will she reminds her relatives that she bought the property back from Captain de Caen with her own money and asks that the house be kept in the family in ‘affectionate and grateful remembrance of her beloved parents’ and that her faithful old servant, John Heal, be given lifetime enjoyment of a certain part of the property ‘with full liberty to come in and out by the spinny door’.

She bequeathed d’Hautrée to her brother Thomas Percival’s three daughters and finally expressed her wish that the property should ‘never be let to or occupied by any of the Society or Order of Jesuits.’

Sold by nieces

Sadly for Jane her nieces obviously did not hold d’Hautrée in such high regard and sold the property less than two years after her death to George Quesnel Larbalestier. In 1905 d’Hautrée was sold again to Mrs Mary Cockburn-Mercer, who demolished the original house and built a modern replacement.

After a number of changes of ownership in the first half of the 1900s it was purchased by the States of Jersey in 1958 from Mrs R H Morris to be converted into St Helier Boys School and later d’Hautrée secondary school. It is now still used for educational purposes under the name of d’Hautrée House.

Jane’s comments regarding the Order of Jesuits may have stemmed from her close proximity to the Maison St Louis a seminary owned and run by the Order on the site of what is now the Hotel de France.

d'Hautree in the early 20th century

History

This is an abridged version of a history of the property by an unknown writer.

Datestone

Some early details can be obtained from a date stone which reads: "17 MB ♥ MAH 63".

From this and the St Saviour parish registers and some existing contracts, MB has been traced to Michel Bree, who purchased this land on 18 May 1734 from a Nicholas Ahier.

Records show Michel's marriage to a Marie Quesnel, her death and his marriage to Maria Ahier in a space of six weeks in 1759. [1]

The year 1763 may have represented the building or rebuilding of a farmhouse. Michel only lived a further five years to enjoy his rebuilt home. He and Marie apparently had no children and the farm was inherited by Philippe Pallot in the year that Michel died, 1768.

As he was a nephew, he was likely to be a fairly young man, and it was probably this Philippe Pallot (who was rated at nine quarters in the 1770 St Saviour rate list) who later sold d'Hautree to Major General W Robertson in 1811, who in turn sold to Helier Touzel in 1812. Some time between 1812 and 1866 a Jean de Caen appears to have bought most of the property purchased by Helier Touzel.

The area was the same in 1811 as in 1734, and the field names agreed, showing that St Saviour's Hill was not yet one of General Don's military roads. The present meadow sloping away from St Saviour's Parish Hall was d'Hautree property and part of it was called Costil des Buttes.

The 1811 contract mentioned le hogard (an unroofed structure with three side walls for stacking farm produce); that of 1734 did not.

Jane Touzel

In 1866 Miss Jane Touzel, a descendant, purchased from Jean de Caen 'the house and most of the land' and also bought additional land from him in 1868, and from the Rev J Cardwell in 1882.

A niece, Anna Maria Helierine Touzel, and others inherited the property of their aunt, Jane Touzel, in about 1893, and they sold to Quesnel Larbalestier, a solicitor, in 1895. He lived at d'Hautree until 1905, with his five daughters and one son.

The house roof was at that time covered with thatch. A daughter, Mary Julia Larbalestier, vividly remembered this. When the thatch began to leak, her father removed it and covered the roof with tiles, probably red pantiles. The basket used to hoist the tiles was once used to hoist her to the roof level.

She also remembered the dairy, 'a pretty little building covered with thatch' and the fountain, from which water then always ran. It was situated at what was then the back entrance to the property, and below the present lodge, thus proving the front entrance is the blocked up door way opposite Government House drive.

At the beginning of the century the house had a bathroom, a black coal range in the kitchen, five bedrooms, three in attics, and four living rooms, plus a two-storey wing. The existing cellars are probably original. The windows were sash type, the ground floors were wood: there was a greenhouse for vines, plants, etc. Altogether it was quite a large house, with a main and servants' staircase. Two servants and a Nannie were employed.

The entrance to the house faced south, not east as now. There was a large grass lawn and a grass tennis court where the school building known as Court block is built. There was also a field known as the "lower field" used for potatoes, grazing, etc., though it was not a farm. A cow, pony and trap were kept, and if male labour was available, pigs also. There was a stable to the north of the present building, with pump.

The beech trees opposite the present front door were remembered by Miss Larbalestier; there were two when she lived there before 1905.

Miss Larbalestier remembered her parents and family moving from d'Hautree to Walmer House, First Tower, owned by her father, as during 1905 he had sold what would appear to be the whole property then known as d'Hautree to Mary Stuart Cockburn-Mercer, nee Anderson. In 1907 additional land was acquired from the Rev Gerrard and others.

House demolished

Between the purchase and her death in 1912 Mrs Cockburn-Mercer had demolished the original house, commissioned architect Adolphus Curry to design the present house, and built on the site a modern house.

Mrs Cockburn-Mercer left the property to several people and one of the co-heirs, Tom Hamilton Cockburn-Mercer, bought them out. He sold in 1919 to Charles Hardy, who held the property for one year and sold in 1920 to Augustus Brigstocke, who renamed the property Blaenpant.

After his death his eldest son and principal heir sold it in 1938 to Miss Albina Bertram Falle, formerly of Plaisance, Don Road.

Miss Falle remained owner of d'Hautree (which had reverted to its original name) until her death in 1958. Her sole heir was her niece, Roselle Hilda Morris, nee Le Cornu, late of Highfield, St Ouen. Mrs Morris was a widow. Her only son, Lieutenant John Le Cornu Morris, was drowned when HMS Jersey was destroyed by enemy action in 1940.

The States bought the property in 1958 from Mrs Morris, to be used as St Helier Boys' School, now d'Hautree School.

Notes and references

  1. This suggestion of two marriages is incorrect. There is no record of Michel Bree's marriage to Marie Quesnel. She married Michel Rou on 24 June 1759. Michel Bree married Marie Ahier on 6 August 1759
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