La Motte Street
La Motte Street is one of the oldest streets in the town of St Helier, showing clearly on maps from as early as the 17th century. The road led from the end of Rue du Milieu (now Queen Street) at Carrefour de la Pompe de Haut (now Snowhill) to Manoir de la Motte. The building was demolished in 1958 but there are conflicting views as to whether this was the original 15th century building or a later replacement.
Writing in the Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise in 1959 Emile Guiton is quite clear that the house, which was then known as Manoir de Saint Helier, fell into disrepair and was demolished in the 15th century. He says that after it became a ruin the stones and timber were carted to Gorey Castle, and probably used in building the Harleston Tower. There was nothing left of the building of the 15th century.
Guiton says that it is not known when it was rebuilt, but it must have remained an open site on the eastern edge of the town for some time, before a new house, known variously as Manoir de la Motte, Maison la Motte, Manoir de Tehi, or Maison de Tehy, was built. This became the residence of the Lieut-Governor in the 18th century, and it was here that Moyse Corbet was famously captured by the French invaders on the day of the Battle of Jersey.
However, Edmund Nicolle, like Guiton a Secretary of La Société Jersiaise, wrote in his Town of St Helier published in 1931 that the property then in existence was of a construction consistent with a 15th century building, suggesting that it was rebuilt earlier than Guiton proposed.
- "In 1476 it belonged with its pigeon house and other manorial appurtenances to Raulin Lempriere, who in June of that year sold it to Perrotin Tehy. An authenticated copy of the deed of sale is to be found in the Public Registry and has been published by the Société Jersiaise. This fine granite front has, in recent years, sad to relate, been cemented over, whilst the interior has undergone modern embellishments, which have obliterated the distinctive features of this remarkable oldhouse; but a mere examination of the gables which are no less than 6 feet thick, the square tower with its stone staircase (now covered over with boards) and its small square windows shows clearly that the building is of early construction.
It would certainly appear to date from the commencement of the 15th century. The deed of sale is dated 1476, so that we cannot err in asserting that the house is five centuries old.
One of the greatest authorities on Jersey houses, Joan Stevens, suggests in Volume 1 of her Old Jersey Houses that it was between 1479 and 1481, after the same by Lempriere to Tehy, that the manor was in ruins and the stones and wood removed to Mont Orgueil.
- "The house must have been rebuilt soon afterwards, though it is difficult to see what condition it was in when it was purchased by Tehy and came to be known by his name."
It is at the eastern end of the street, towards the junction with St James Street, Ann Street, Grosvenor Street and St Saviour's Road, that the buildings of the greatest historical importance were erected. The area forms part of the Fief du Buisson.
Before the street was developed, the north side consisted of open fields belonging to Manoir de Tehi and the south side belonged to Colomberie House on nearby Colomberie. In 1798 a large tract of land belonging to the Manoir's owner, Jean Brohier, was acquired by Jacques Hemery Additional fields were purchased from Thomas Pipon and Charles William Le Geyt and Jacques Hemery built a row of seven town houses, as homes for his late brother's six sons and one daughter.
This is Hemery Row, and five of the seven houses survive today. Four have had the original cement rendering removed to reveal the fine granite work beneath.
- A history of La Motte Street, a 2016 article based on a Jersey Archive presentation.
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La Motte Street is in the centre right of this photograph taken from Victoria College