La Franchise

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Jersey houses

St Martin:

La Franchise


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Perchard family tradition claims that Charles II stayed at La Franchise and picked fruit from a pear tree


La Franchise was sold in 2020. The asking price was £2 million

Like most, if not all claims that Charles II, during one of his two visits to Jersey, stayed as a guest in houses, this one is probably also untrue, but Joan Stevens, mentioning the story in Old Jersey Houses Vol 1, lends some credence to the suggestion that Charles picked a pear from a tree at the property.

She indicated that the property was included in her survey for historical rather than architectural reasons:

"The present dwelling house is of no great age, but it is believed that two, or possibly three, houses have existed here. The Richmond map shows a house slightly to the south of the present one, and much nearer the entrance from the road, and this is in fact where the present owner thinks the earlier house was."
"The family tradition is that Charles II stayed there, and enfranchised all the land belonging to this property, and also to CLos Fallu nearby, from Royal dues on wheat. There is also a family tradition that he picked pears from a tree which Miss Renouf actually remembers. This story was handed down to her from her father, who had heard it from his grandfather, who in turn heard it from his grandfather. This sequence takes us back to 1730 at least.
"The story of the pear tree seems so human that it deserves consideration, and it may be that the King, whilst not actually staying there, did in fact pass by, and sample a Jersey pear. A tradition as strong as this one is unlikely to be fictitious, even if the passage of time has embellished the story. It must concern his second visit, when he was King, which was in the autumn-winter of 1649-50, rather than his first visit, which was in the spring of 1646, when pears would not have been available."[1]

Mrs Stevens is more dismissive of the suggestion that Charles II enfranchised [2] the land now belonging to the property from Royal dues on wheat.

"An alternative, and far more ancient, explanation is possible for the name. This property, near to the boundary of the fiefs of Rozel and Le Roi, is on no fief itself, and is what is termed en franc alleu. It seems likely that it is the property referred to in documents of 1607, 611 and 1648, at that time belonging to the Baudains family, and said in each case to be en franc alleu. From this it seems clear that the enfranchisement dates from long before any possible visit by Charles II."

Datestones

Surprisingly for such an old and substantial property there are no recorded datestones at La Franchise.

Notes and references

  1. Readers will form their own opinions of the likelihood that the story is true, but unfortunately it is typical of so much so-called historical material in Mrs Stevens' books which is based on 'tradition', rumour and supposition. She does not indicate how recently the Miss Renouf referred to remembered the pear tree, but it must have been sufficiently old when Miss Renouf saw it to have broken all records for longevity; the estimated maximum life of a pear tree being in the region of 50 years.
  2. This term is not explained in the book, but it probably means to free the land from the Crown fief and give it to the owners of La Franchise
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