Beau Desert

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Jersey houses:

Beau Desert, St Saviour


U20BeauDesert-c1954.jpg

The tower in its original form in about 1954, when the property was repurchased by the Le Quesne family. Some time after the family firm, Charles Le Quesne Ltd, demolished the original pitched roof and the third floor and created a flat roof above the second floor. At the same time the older part of the house was re-roofed with red asbestos slates, which were removed when Roger Young had the roof raised in order to create living space in the loft


This substantial St Saviour property was divided between two owners in the early 20th century, brought back later under single ownership, and subsequently divided again at the beginning of the 21st century


Beau Desert main house, with its extraordinary 19th century tower, unlike any other building in Jersey

Property name

Beau Desert

Previous names

None known, but the name Beau Desert did not appear in a contract until 1868

Location

Rue de la Retraite, St Saviour

Valuation

On the market in 2018 for £3.5 million. It is not known what price was paid by the current owner

Type of property

An important farm group, substantially remodelled in 19th century but with origins dating back to the 15th century

Families associated with the property

Inside the tower today, where the current owner, author and former policeman Peter James, houses his private collection of police memorabilia

Datestones

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795. The beginnings of the farmstead go back at least to the late 16th century, although there is some evidence that the main house originated as a 14th/15th century medieval open hall construction.

The most westerly gable of the heifers' stable is thought to be all that remains of buildings of about 1600. Several other early reused stones and datestones can be seen around the farm, although some may be bogus.

The Nicolle family extended the main house, including the tower block, in the early 19th century. The tower is said to be built from grey stone from Les Minquiers.

The farm manager's house was built in 1830s, finished 1840. The two wings either side were originally part of the same continuous farm building dating from the 16th century, with 19th century house inserted.

The large triple arch at the entrance is dated 1744, but has earlier origins. It is thought not to be in its original position.

A wind pump was installed by Charles Le Quesne in the early 1900s to pump water.

In the early 20th century the property was divided into the main, two-storey house with three-storey tower, and a rectangular courtyard of farm buildings to the west fronted by the farm manager's house, which became Beau Desert Farm.

The converted former farm buildings are now separate dwellings known as Beau Desert Lodge (the east end of the range of buildings along the south side of the group); Les Pommiers (west part of north range); Le Pressoir (central part of north range); and La Laiterie (east part of north range).

Old Jersey Houses

It is inexplicable how the author of the two-volume work on old Jersey houses missed Beau Desert. It is though that it may be that she was simply unaware of the property, which at the time of her research was in the ownership of the distinguished diplomat Sir Martin Le Quesne, but was effectively a holiday home because his work took him all over the world.

A letter confirming the purchase of the house in 1954

Ownership

At the beginning of the 17th century the property was part of the Manoir de Longueville. It was inherited by Aaron Messervy from Thomas Bertram and then passed to Jean Le Febure, son of Germain. [1]

James Corbet

Ownership passed to James Corbet in 1692. A Royal Court contract shows that he acquired certain droits de chasse et de vivier and relinquished his rights to a colombier. He is the James who added the carved lintel in 1698.

Nicolas Fiott

His son James predeceased him and the property passed to his granddaughter Elizabeth. She sold it to Nicolas Fiott in 1754. [2]He left the house to his daughter Anne, who sold it in 1788 to Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell. [3]

Philippe Nicolle

The property was sold again in 1826, to Philippe Nicolle, whose family had interests in shipping and the cod trade. Philippe and his son, also Philippe, both died by 1835, when the property was inherited by Philippe Winter Nicolle, who is shown as owner on the 1849 Godfray map. The middle Philippe was a Jurat; merchant in the wool trade, and then in that of Newfoundland cod (1793). He was, by 1816, in partnership with his wife's relative, Philippe Winter, the Island`s leading shipowner.

It was during the ownership of the Nicolles that the main house was extended and the unusual grey tower block was constructed.

Philippe Winter Nicolle did not marry and died in 1863 leaving considerable debts. His heirs were his younger brother Joshua Mauger Nicolle, his sisters Elizabeth, Jeanne and Anne Charlotte, and Clément Auguste de Quetteville. They sold the properties for rentes which they used to pay off his debts.

Charles Pallot

Beau Desert was sold in 1868 to shoe manufacturer Charles Pallot. This was the first time that the name of the property appeared in the contract. The 1861 census shows that Charles had a substantial business in Halkett Place, employing 22 men and two boys.

The 1891 census shows him as a farmer at Beau Desert, living there with his wife Mary Ann, daughters Cecile Louise and Ethel Lucie, and sons Charles Giffard, Herbert John and Harold. They had two servants.

Charles died in 1894, when Charles Giffard Pallot was still a minor. In 1897 he sold a field called Les Petits Plats Champs to the Parish of St Saviour, for the building of the parish school.

Census

In 1901 the census showed widow Sophia Julia Bennett (1855- ) living at Beau Desert with her sons Agilire (1886- ) and Alexander (1888- ), both born in India, John Edgar (1891- ), born in Germany, and daughter Gwendoline, born in Jersey in 1894. They had three servants.

Frenchman Pierre Sangan (1862- ) was running the farm, living there with his French wife, Marie Louise, nee Belliel (1856- ). They both came from Ploeuc-sur-Lie in Brittany, but married in Jersey. With them at the farm were Elsie May (1894- ), their daughter, and John Philip Chapron (1880- ) and Amelie Blampied, nee Chapron (1878- ), Marie's children by her first marriage, and Amelie's husband John, a carpenter, and their son John Peter (1900- )

Property divided

In 1919 Beau Desert was divided. The house and its gardens were sold to Doctor Colin Gordon, Charles Pallot retaining the farm and its buildings. But the following year he sold the farm and 88 vergees of land to Charles John Le Quesne. After his death a partage des heritages resulted in the division of his properties and his son Charles Thomas Le Quesne inherited Beau Desert Farm.

Charles Le Quesne

In 1951 Dr Gordon committed suicide in England. He left his estate to the RNLI and the Jersey Blind Society, but this was over-ruled by the Royal Court and his son Valentine inherited Beau Desert house in 1953. A few months later he sold it to Charles Thomas Le Quesne for £3,750, reuniting the whole property.

Mr Le Quesne died in 1954, leaving the combined property to his diplomat son Charles Martin (later Sir Martin) and his siblings. He bought the share of one brother in 1955 and another brother and sister in 1960. He became sole owner in 1979 when he bought the share of his third brother.

An indication of changing property values is that the two brothers had sold a 25-vergee field to Nicholas Hedley Le Quesne for £35,420.

The property was again divided in 2001 when the house and gardens were sold to Roger Young, together with the eastern end of the farmhouse block, known as The Pipe's Place. The farm buildings, but not the farmhouse, were sold for a housing development in 2003 and Sir Martin's son Richard was gifted the farmhouse and garden. After their father's death in 2004, Richard and his two brothers inherited the remaining land, and he bought their shares in 2016, becoming sole owner of the farmhouse, an adjoining barn and land.

Notes and references

  1. It has not been possible to place these individuals in Jerripedia trees with any degree of certainty. It is possible that Thomas Bertram was born in 1587, the son of Collas. Aaron Messervy may have been the Jurat and Lieut-Governor who died in 1631, and perhaps the same who was part owner of the fief of Longueville at the end of the 16th century. There were many Jean Le Febures at this time but we have not been able to find a record for any who was the son of Germain
  2. This was probably the Nicolas Fiott who was a prominent merchant and became involved in a legal dispute with the Bailiff and Attorney-General of the day - Descendants of John Fiott
  3. We have not so far been able to place this Philippe in any of the Durell family trees in Jerripedia
The old wooden gates in place in the entrance arch in 1973. They have been restored and were due to be replaced in 2021. Triple arches are almost unknown in Jersey because arches were functional, not decorative, and there would have been no reason to create a second pedestrian entrance. The arch has been made up from two arches from other places (centre and right) with the left arch made, from the same blue-grey stone as the tower, to match the right hand arch. Each arch is of a different stone; the key stone of the right arch has had initials removed from above the date; the cap stones along the top have sockets for railings - such as are still seen in front of many 19th century properties
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