Avranches Manor

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Jersey houses


Avranches Manor, St Lawrence


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Not strictly a 'manor house' because it does not stand in the fief that bears its name, this property has, nevertheless, had the name for some considerable time


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Property name

Avranches Manor. The house should, perhaps, more properly be known as Avranches, because it is not the manor house of the Fief of Avranches, in Trinity, but stands on another fief in the parish of St Lawrence

Location

Ruette d'Avranches, St Lawrence

Type of property

Grand country 'manor' house

Valuations

The property has not changed hands recently and does not appear in the database of transactions

Families associated with the property

Datestones

Somewhat surprisingly for a property of this age and importance, there are no known datestones present

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

House, 1818-20, with associated outbuildings and gardens. Associated with fiefs of Arbres and Avranches. The name derives, indirectly, from the town of Avranches in Normandy. Avranche can claim to be the manor house of two different fiefs. The old house on the site was originally the manor of the Fief des Arbres on which it is situated, but in the 17th century it was inherited by Philippe Maret who also held a fief in Trinity once held by the Bishop of Avranches, and so the name Avranches became attached to this manor.

The present house, built on the site of an earlier property, is late Georgian, restored and altered in the 20th century with high quality additions and replication of original features.

Of interest are early 19th century chimneypieces in the reception and dining rooms, which are contemporary with the house although imported from Ireland at the time of the restoration. 20th century alterations were mainly to form en-suite bathrooms to the first floor - four columns were also added in the hall.

There is an interesting range of outbuildings to the north of the house, including a former coach house, stables and first floor grain store. Features of particular note include original stone flooring with perimeter drainage channel in the cow shed; and a rat barrier - a projecting stone ledge - along the walls underneath the grain store.

The gardens to the east include a fish pond, a walled kitchen garden and orchard. There is evidence of the original approach and the drive from the south, currently laid to lawn as part of the landscape.

The farm complex also originally included a two-storey building, now demolished, that housed a horse-powered threshing machine. Another building, once a toolshed, bears over the doorway a Latin inscription from Virgil’s Georgics: ‘Omnia quae multo ante memor provisa repones, si te digna manet divini gloria ruris.’ [1]

Old Jersey Houses

"Here is another ... example of a confusion between the name of a house and the name of the Fief with which it is connected. We first hear of this Fief as belonging to the Le Franchoys in the 13th century, and then it is passed to Tourgis, Mahaut, Dumaresq, and then Maret, of the Trinity branch. The inventory of 1676 ... was that of Philippe Maret, who had inherited the house from his father, who had bought it from his step-sons, Elie and Edouard Dumaresq, of La Haule. Philippe Maret, the father, died there in 1636; the son lived at Avranches with his mother. He called the house Avranches after his Fief in Trinity, which should really be called Le Fief qui fut a l'Eveque d'Avranches, an ecclesiastical fief which had escheated to the Crown in 1415 and been sold later.
"The present house was built in 1818by another Philippe Maret, doubtless on the same site as the one concerned in the inventory, but obviously larger and more imposing than its predecessor."

Armorial history

The following extract from Payne's Armorial of Jersey shows how Avranches passed down through the Maret/Marett family:

"Philip Maret ... was a victim of the parliamentary excesses in Jersey; for, having protested against the exactions and tyranny of the then Governor, Colonel Robert Gibbon, was by him committed as a close prisoner to Mont Orgueil Castle. He contrived to obtain his liberty on bail sometime afterwards, when he endeavoured, though unsuccessfully, to obtain redress from the Protector. The Restoration, however, relieved Mr Maret, with the Royalists of Jersey generally, from the exactions and persecutions to which they were subjected by their political antagonists. Philip Maret died without issue in 1675-6, leaving no inconsiderable property, part of which was inherited by his paternal relatives, and the remainder, including the estate of Avranche, devolved upon his halfsister, Susan Dumaresq, widow of Elias Maret. From this lady the seat has descended to Peter Maret, the present Seigneur. A characteristic portrait of Philip Maret is preserved at Avranche.
Francis Marett (as, about this period, the surname was written) was Seigneur of Avranche, and an Advocate of the Royal Court. He was afterwards preferred to the office of Receiver of the King's Revenues in Jersey, and finally elected Jurat, a dignity he enjoyed until his death, in 1702. His eldest son, Francis Marett, Seigneur of Avranche, was sworn an Advocate of the Royal Court, in January 1765. He then became Jurat, and fulfilled the duties of that post for several years. In early life he travelled through France, Switzerland, and Italy. He was a man of varied information, and critical taste in science and art. He died in 1801, and, leaving no issue, the bulk of his property descended to his nephew, Philip Marett, Seigneur of Avranche, who was successively Advocate, Jurat, and Lieutenant Bailly of the Royal Court. As Constable of the parish of St Lawrence, and as Jurat, he was a member of the insular States of Jersey for little less than half a century, and had the honour of being deputed by that Assembly to defend the interests of the island, on several important occasions. He was for many years Colonel of the St Lawrence battalion of the Militia.
His son, Peter Marett, Lieutenant-Colonel RJM, is the present Seigneur of Avranche, and the representative of the eldest surviving branch of the family. Peter Daniel Marett, brother of Philip, entered the service of the Honourable East-India Company in 1709, and obtained an ensigncy in 1st Madras Native Infantry. He was stationed at Vellore in 1800, the scene of the first mutiny of the native troops, and narrowly escaped being put to death by the revolters on that occasion. He attained the rank of major in 1817, but from ill-health was compelled to retire shortly afterwards from the service. He returned to his native island, where he continued to reside until his death in 1838. His son, Robert Pipon Marett, who represents a junior section of this family, is Advocate-General of Jersey, and who during his period of office as Constable of St Helier has done very much to improve and beautify the chief town. He is also favourably known as the author of a life of Le Geyt, the insular legist.

Notes and references

  1. ‘All these (implements) must be long remembered and kept in store if the noble glory of the divine countryside is to remain yours.’
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