Beau Desert

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Jersey houses:

Beau Desert, St Saviour


The tower in its original form in about 1954, when the property was purchased 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. It is likely that, in common with many Jersey country properties in earlier times, the house did not have a name but was known by its owners


Rue de la Retraite, St Saviour


  • The farm sold for £470,000 in 2003
  • On the market in 2018 for £3.5 million, and sold for £2,650,000 later that year

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

  • Falle: The 15th century owners; perhaps the original owners. The property passed, at the end of the 15th century, through Collette Falle, daughter of Philippe, to her husband, Jurat Clement Messervy (c1450-1504)
  • Messervy: This family owned the property throughout the 16th and three-quarters of the 17th centuries. This was one of three highly successful, early, Messervy branches, which produced many Jurats and public office-holders. Messervy owners of the property included Solicitor-General Clement Messervy (c.1508-1542), who was killed by a punch whilst presiding over the Noirmont seigneurial court and Jurat Aaron Messervy, another Solicitor-General, 1590-1605, who became Lieut.-Governor of Jersey. The last of their male line here appears to have been Philippe Messervy, a former Deputy-Viscount, who died in 1679
  • Corbet: The dated, engraved, initials IC ADC 1698, is believed to have represented Jacques James Corbet and Anne de Carteret, who married in 1679, and would indicate the start of a new ownership for the property. James Corbet, a member of an old Jersey family, now pronounced "Corbett", was Viscount and then a Jurat of the Royal Court. His wife became Dame de Rozel. Their son was also James, an Advocate, who lost his life aged 21 with the wreck of the frigate Hind in December 1721 [1] Jurat James Corbet then left the estate to his grand-daughter, Elizabeth Corbet, who sold it in 1754 to Nicolas Fiott
  • Fiott: The 1754 purchaser was Nicolas Fiott (1704-1786), a former master mariner, who became a merchant in 1743, and flourished in the Newfoundland trade. Of all the owners of this property, few were as colourful as Fiott. In 1755 he became a St Helier Centenier, but so many and frequent were his quarrels with the then ruling Lempriere faction in the States, that he was deprived of his office in 1764. Next year, determined to settle in England, he sold his Jersey property, including the future Beau Desert, to Philip de Gruchy, a London merchant and ally of his. The Court refused to register the sale as Fiott had outstanding fines to pay. In 1769 he was implicated in the revolt against Lempriere rule. He was, from a distance, one of the leaders. A pardon in 1771 led to his triumphal return to Jersey, a return to his captaincy in the militia, and the opportunity to become Seigneur of Meleches. In 1782 he became a Jurat, finally overcoming his numerous enemies. The property was left by him to his daughter, Anne Fiott, who sold it two years later to Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell
  • Le Vavasseur dit Durell: Of the purchaser in 1788, Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell, there is little evidence on Jerripedia, there not being a complete set of genealogies for this family
  • Neel: The datestone IN MLQ 1817 represents Jean Neel of Trinity who married in 1814 Marguerite Le Quesne of St Helier, who were evidently owners of the house and land by that date.
  • Nicolle: Jurat Philippe Nicolle lived here in the mid-19th century being, at that date, Jersey`s most successful Newfoundland merchant, who chose to live outside the town, but not too far off. The associated farm was let to the father of the future Jurat Clement Nicolle who, despite his surname, was not, it seems, related to Philippe. The Nicolle ownership ceased in 1868, as a result of losses to their firm, occasioned by the American Civil War. The sale notice below gives 104 vergées as the extent of the farm land at the time
  • Pallot: The 1868 purchaser was Charles Pallot, a shoe manufacturer, who had a substantial business, employing in 1861, 22 men and 2 boys, in Halkett Place. His three sons attended Victoria College, but all eventually left the Island, settling in Canada. Charles died in 1894, while his sons were still minors. The eldest son, Charles Giffard Pallot (1876-1948), inherited, and perhaps intended to remain in Jersey. Nevertheless, he had joined his brothers in Alberta by 1911. He finally sold Beau Desert, after having previously let it in 1920, by means of a power of attorney
  • Le Quesne: The Le Quesnes were the mid-20th century owners, having purchased the property in 1954. This was the home of, among others, retired diplomat Sir Martin Le Quesne, the son of the former C T Le Quesne (1885-1954) KC.

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


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 Joan Stevens, the author of the two-volume work on old Jersey houses, missed Beau Desert. It is suggested that it may be that she was simply unaware of the property, which at the time of her research was in the ownership of 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


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. [2]

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. [3]He left the house to his daughter Anne, who sold it in 1788 to Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell. [4]

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.

1866 advert in the Chroniques de Jersey offering Beau Desert for sale by perpetual lease

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.


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.


This timeline was produced by property owner Richard Le Quesne. It is intended to present an overview of the known history of the property.


  • 1602 - It is believed that the property formed part of the Manoir de Longueville and was passed from Aaron Messery (who had inherited from Thomas Bertram) to Jean Le Febure, son of Germain.
  • 1692 - RP 27/184: Contract passed by which James Corbet acquires certain “droits de chasse et de vivier” and relinquished his rights to a colombier. This contract mentions the contract of 1602.
  • 1698 - A lintel, now installed opposite the pigsties, was carved 1698 IC ADC for James Corbet and Anne de Carteret
  • 1754 - RP 45/36: Elizabeth Corbet, who had inherited the property from her grandfather, James Corbet (her father, also James, being dead), sold the property to Nicholas Fiott.
  • 1788 - RP 72/80: Anne Fiott, who had inherited from her father, Nicholas Fiott, sold the property to Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell. This contract mentions the lead pump and the Grande saloire de Pierre.
  • 1826 - RP 142/170: On 2 December 1826 the property was sold by Philippe Le Vavasseur dit Durell to Philippe Nicolle
  • 1835 - Philippe Nicolle and son, also Philippe, both died. The property was inherited by Philippe Winter Nicolle
  • 1849 - The Godfray map shows Philippe Winter Nicolle as owner of Beau Desert
  • 1861 - The census shows Beau Desert occupied by Philippe Winter Nicolle, 60, unmarried, described as 'Magistrate and shipowner' together with his sister and three nieces
  • 1863 - P W Nicolle's business, Nicolle and Co, failed, probably because of changes in the patterns of international trade. RP 229/215: All of P W Nicolle's property was acquired by his younger brother, Josué Mauger Nicolle, Clément Auguste de Quetteville, Miss Elizabeth Nicolle, Miss Jeanne Nicolle and Miss Anne Charlotte Nicolle. They sold the properties for rentes which they used to pay off his debts
  • 1868 - RP 241/5: On 11 January 1868 the property was sold by Joshue Mauger Nicolle and others to Charles Pallot, son of Charles. The property was described as 'Beau Desert' for the first time. It was noted that there were tenant farmers in occupation. Note: A contract dated 10 April 1897 by which Charles Giffard Pallot, then still a minor, sold a field to the Parish of St Saviour states that Charles Pallot inherited from Joshue Mauger Nicolle.
  • 1894 - Charles Pallot died on 9 September 1894. His gravestone, in St Saviour's churchyard, describes him as 'of Beau Desert'. His wife, Mary Annie Giffard, did not die until 1926. The property was inherited by his son, Charles Giffard Pallot, who later emigrated to Canada.
  • 1897 - Charles Giffard Pallot sold a field called Les Petit Plat Champs to the Parish of St Saviour. The parish school now stands there.
  • 1919 - RP 377/47: Colin Gordon, son of William Francis, buys Beau Desert house and gardens and the 'Cod Store', which is described as formerly a coal store and now a stable, from the procureur of Charles Giffard Pallot for £2,000. The contract stipulates that William Whitaker Maitland can continue to rent the house until 24 June 1920 and that John Batho can ' jouir de l'un desdits jardins...' until 25 December 1921. Charles Giffard Pallot's mother was present to renounce her dower rights. Most of the land was retained by Charles Giffard Pallot together with rights for farm buildings to adjoin the main house.
  • 1920 - C J Le Quesne buys Beau Desert farm and 88 vergees. of land from Charles Giffard Pallot.
  • 1920 - C J Le Quesne buys the adjoining farm, La Retraite, from Alfred Philip Nicolle. His daughter Winifred, who had inherited the farm, sold it to Hedley Gibaut Le Quesne, a distant cousin, on 20 December 1958.
  • 1925 - C J Le Quesne dies
  • 1927 - C T L Quesne and his siblings, as legatees of C J Le Quesne, sell a field known as La Grande Chenaie, now known as Field S633, to Inverness John Bathe but retain ownership of the strip/verge between the north side of the field and the south side of Rue de La Retraite.
  • 1933 - A Partage des Heritages is passed before the Royal Court to divide the remaining properties of C J Le Quesne. C T Le Quesne inherits Beau Desert Farm.
  • 1951 - Colin Gordon, owner of Beau Desert, dies in England
  • 1953 - The Royal Court annuls a codicil to his will by which he left his estate to the RNLI and the Jersey Blind Society. This resulted in his son, Valentine, inheriting Beau Desert
  • 1954 - C T Le Quesne buys Beau Desert house and gardens from Valentine Gordon for £3,750. The house and the farm are again under single ownership
  • 1954 - C M Le Quesne and his siblings inherit the combined property from their father
  • 1955 - C M Le Quesne buys the interest of his brother, A L Le Quesne
  • 1960 - C M Le Quesne buys the interests of J G Le Quesne and S M Le Quesne
  • 1979 - C M Le Quesne and L P Le Quesne sell field 611 (25 vergees, 12 perches and 3 feet) , to Nicholas Hedley Le Quesne for £35,420
  • 1979 - C M Le Quesne buys the interest of his brother, L P Le Quesne
  • 1989 - C M Le Quesne sells Field 634 (6 vergees, 27 perches, 11 feet) to Francis Le Quesne for £26,700
  • 2001 - C M Le Quesne sells Beau Desert, together with its gardens (but not the 'Cod Store'), and the eastern end of the farmhouse to Rodger Young
  • 2003 - The complex of farm buildings - but not the farmhouse - sold by C M Le Quesne to GJM Developments for redevelopment as housing
  • 2003 - C M Le Quesne gives the farmhouse, its garden, the adjoining garden and the adjoining heifer stable to C R Le Quesne
  • 2007 - The Le Quesne brothers sell Le Jardin Potager (the walled garden to the north of the farm building) to the owners of the the three houses created when the farm buildings were redeveloped
  • 2016 - David and Andrew Le Quesne sell their interests in the remaining property to their elder brother Charles Richard. He now owns the farmhouse, an adjoining barn and the land

Occupants of the house

  • 1841 - The census shows Beau Desert occupied by Richard Hancock, 45, born in Ireland, his wife, Jane, 38 and son, Richard, 10. The census shows Beau Desert Farm occupied by Philip Nicolle, 50, Ann, 50 (his wife), Mary, 18, Ann, 15, Sophia, 13, Elizabeth, 10, John, 8, Jane, 5, and Elias, 3
  • 1851 - The census shows Beau Desert occupied Anne Nicolle, 54, widow, born in St Mary, together with Mary, 30 (daughter-in-law), Sophia, 22 (daughter), Elizabeth, 20 (daughter), John, 10 (son), Jane, 16 (daughter) and Elie (named Elias in 1841 census), 14 son
  • 1861 - The census shows Beau Desert occupied by Philip Winter Nicolle, 60, unmarried, described as 'Magistrate and shipowner' together with his sister and three nieces. This census also shows Beau Desert Farmhouse occupied by John Mollet, 48, farmer, his wife and two sons. He was probably a tenant farmer renting from P W Nicolle.
  • 1871 - The census shows Beau Desert Farm occupied by John Pallot, 32, described as 'landowner, farmer of 42 acres', Jane Pallot, 62, his mother, and Rachel Pallot, 39, his sister
  • 1881 - The census shows Beau Desert occupied Charles Pallot, 48, who is described as 'Farmer of 65 acres employing 9 men and 2 boys, his wife Mary and children Adeline, Cecile and Charles.
  • 1891 - The census shows Beau Desert occupied by Charles Pallot, 58, farmer, born in Trinity, his wife, Mary Ann, 40, and five children, including Charles Giffard Pallot who was then 14.
  • 1901 - The census shows the house was occupied by Sophia Julia Bennett (widow) aged 46 together with her four children and servants. It appears, from the birth places of the children, that her husband had been a military man.
  • 1911 - The census shows the house occupied by W Maitland (who was absent from the island on census day) together with two children, John Whitaker, 8, and Roselle, 3, and servants

Farm tenants

The farm has been worked by tenants, rather than owner-occupiers, for much of its recent history. It is believed that the current farmhouse was built, in the mid-1800s, because the old house was being gentrified by the Nicolle family for their own use and was thus no longer available for use by the farmer

  • 1901 The census shows the farm occupied by Pierre Sangan, born in France, aged 37, his wife Marie Louise (née Belloeil), born in France, 43, and children and step-children
  • 1911 The census shows the farm still occupied by Pierre Sangan
  • 1930 Francis Renouf Billot took over the farm, as tenant, and moved into the farmhouse
  • 1953/4 The Billot family left and the farm was taken over by Hedley Gibaut Le Quesne - who was already renting La Retraite from Winifred Le Quesne - to be farmed as one with La Retraite. As he was already living at La Retraite, he lodged his foreman, William Stephan, in the farmhouse.

Notes and references

  1. ABSJ, IX, 159 and VI, 143
  2. It has been difficult 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 was 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
  3. 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
  4. 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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