Maison de la Motte

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Maison de la Motte


The manor's tower

This article by Emile Guiton was first published in the 1959 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

It is with regret that we have to report the demolition of this ancient property. As is well known, the square tower was situated in Grosvenor Street, in the Parish of St Helier. We have thought it of interest to collect details, as far as they could be ascertained, of its history.

The manor before demolition in 1959

1476 contract

The earliest mention of this property is in a contract or deed of sale dated 28 June 1476. By this contract Raulin Lempriere sold to Perrotin Tehy "une maison et messuage nomme le Manyer de Saint Hellier avec le Colombier et tous les franchises et libertes appartenantes audit Manyer avec le jardin sceant devers le ouest dudit Manyer et les issues et appartenances a ycelluy avec le Grand Pray sceant devers le Nord dudit Manier, tout contenant treize vergies de terre ou environ".

(A house and farm called the Manor of St Helier with the pigeon house and all the rights and privileges appertaining to the said Manor, with the garden on the West and the surrounding lands and openings, also the large field on the north of the said Manor, the whole measuring approximately thirteen vergees of land.)

It must have been an important property because the right to own a pigeon house was severely restricted.

In the Rent Roll of Thomas de Saint Martin (who died in 1515 appears the following: Item, le Manyer de Saint Helyier avesq les terres ... ...lequel Manyer fust par lesdits Harlyston et Hareby descouvert et la pyere et le boys porte au Chatel tant que le Manyer est toutl cheet".

(The Manor of St Helier together with the surrounding land - the said Manor was by Harleston and Hareby uncovered and the stones and the timber carted to the Castle as the Manor was completely in ruins.)

15th century ruin

Sir Richard Harleston was the first Governor of the Island and was in office 1470 to 1483. Guillaume Hareby was Bailiff from 1479 to 1481. It is therefore clear that in the 15th century it was known as the Manoir de Saint Helier, and that, as stated in the rent roll, it was completely in ruins and the stones and timber were carted to Gorey Castle. Probably used in building the Harleston Tower. There is nothing left of the building of the 15th century.

At a later date, of which there is no record, it was rebuilt, and was known as Manoir de la Motte, or as Maison la Motte, or as Maison de Tehy.

It is clearly shown in a drawing of the Town of St Helier from the North East by J Heath, 1758. The square tower with its stone staircase and its small square windows shows clearly that this part of the building is of early construction, but the remainder has suffered modem embellishments and practically nothing remains of interest or worthy of preservation.

It was reacquired by the Lempriere family and on 23 April 1612 it became the property of Jeanne Lempriere, wife of Thomas de Soullement, who was Constable of St Helier from 1590 to 1597. It is designated in the contract as "Le Manoir maison et menage de Tehy a la Motte". It passed through various hands and in 1799 was sold to Charles Chevalier as Maison de la Motte.

At the period of the Battle of Jersey, 6 January 1781, it was the residence of the Governor and it was here that Major Moses Corbet, the Lieut-Governor, was made a prisoner of war by the French.

In 1958 Herbert A Walford purchased the property, which was in a very ruinous state, and demolished it with the intention of building a textile factory. La Société Jersiaise approached Mr Walford for permission to place a plaque with the words "Site of the Manoir de la Motte, 1400-1958. Here Major M Corbet, Lieut-Governor, was made Prisoner of War by the French." The proprietor very kindly granted our request.

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