This property is undoubtedly very old, the colombier, Jersey's largest, having been rebuilt in 1573 on the site of an earlier one which is mentioned in 1409. The manor house which stood near it at the time has long since disappeared, apparently rebuilt on at least two occasions.
The history of the fief, of which this is the manor house, can be traced back to the 14th century, when it was owned by the de Barentin family.
Given the importance of this property and its fief, it receives strangely cursory coverage in Volume One of Old Jersey Houses by Joan Stevens, the classic work on Jersey's oldest houses. There is a further article in the second volume of the work, somewhat disconnected from the first, and contradictory in parts, so we have undertaken a significant amount of research to piece together this history of one of Trinity, and Jersey's oldest and most important fiefs and properties.
Derivation of name
The origins of the name Diélament have preoccupied a number of Jersey's foremost historians over the years, and there is still a fundamental disagreement. Mrs Stevens comes down on the side of a derivation from the family name Hamon, supporting the view put forward earlier by the well respected historian and genealogist, the Rev J A Messervy in an article in the 1908 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise.
He wrote that the name, which has appeared in a number of variations, including Dillamen, Dylament, Diexlament and Dieu la Min, is a corruption of Gilles Hamon, explaining that Gi becomes Dji in Jèrriais and mon is pronounced men in the patois.
This conflicts with the view of Charles Stevens, husband of Joan, and his co-authors of Jersey place names: A corpus of Jersey toponymy, who were uncertain of any definite etymology for the name, but suggested that it might represent a development of the Roman legion name Decumana ‘Tenth'.
A third explanation, and one which we find the most compelling, particularly given the existence of such variations as Dieu la Min, was published in the 1991 ABSJ|Annual Bulletin. Richard Coates, a lecturer in linguistics and author of The Ancient Names of the Channel Islands, believed that the name had nothing to do with the Hamon family, nor the Romans, but came from the French for 'God'.
- "Dielament is really a purely French name meaning 'may God make it (more) fertile', Dieu l'amende as it were. In a document mentioned by the authors [Charles Stevens, etc], drawn up in 1582, we find the spelling le fieu de Diexlament. This is the main clue to the real origin of the name The x in this spelling is a well-known medieval device rendering 'us' in shorthand, and the Diex is thus ‘God’ with the then-obsolescent nominative singular case suffix -s.
- "Ament is a subjunctive form of the verb amender 'may (he) make fertile'. French verbs in -er originally took no ending -e in the third person singular of the present subjunctive, and voiced consonants such as dwere unvoiced to t at the end of words, so in this instance the form amend has been treated in spelling as if it contained the identical-sounding noun suffix -ment.
- "The name is paralleled by an Anglo-Norman name in England, Dieulacres, an abbey in Staffordshire, from Dieux l’acreisse ‘may God increase it’; and a similar form, Deulacresse is found as a 13th century field name in Clewer, Berkshire.
- "Some abbeys in France have analogous names (Dieu t'en soumenne, Dieulouard ‘God remember it',‘God look after it') The monastic connection is that the lands of Dielament were part of the endowment of Saint Helier Abbey, as the authors note. The name therefore has nothing whatever to do with the Roman period.
The property is variously called Diélament, Diélament Manor, or Diélament Manor Farm, in various references - Mrs Stevens switches from the first to the second name between volumes of her book, and also refers to 'farm buildings'. The Jersey Datestone Register, based on Mrs Stevens' listing of datestones in Vol 2 of her book, refers to the second and third of these titles, without really attempting to distinguish between different locations. We are confident that the house and outbuildings, such as have been present on the property over the centuries, is rightly the manor house of the fief de Diélament, and has also been a working farm. The correct description, is, therefore, Diélament Manor. Further research, however, suggests that today there are properties under separate ownership bearing each of the names.
Although both manor and fief have been in the ownership of the Lempriere family for most of the last 800 years, and the fief itself remains with the Lempriere-Robins of Rosel Manor to this day, they were not the original owners. And to further complicate matters, ownership of the manor and seigneurship of the fief were separated in the early 19th century.
In the 14th century the fief, and undoubtedly the early manor house, belonged to the de Barentin family. They fled the island after the sons of Philippe de Barentin attacked Jehannet de St Martin, a relative of the then Bailiff, whom their mother had accused of calling her an adultress. They tore out their victim's tongue and then fled to France, where Philippe jnr was arrested and hanged, and Gilbert remained in exile in Rouen for the rest of his life.
Their parents left Jersey and Philippe left his many properties behind to be administered by Raoul Lempriere and Guillaume Payn. These included the fiefs and manors of Samares and Rosel, La Hougue Boete, Longueville, and Dielament. Eventually Lempriere and Payn bought the properties from Philippe de Barentin. A prolonged legal battle ensued involving other members of the de Barentin family. Eventually in 1382 the families divided their properties, Payn taking Dielament and Samares, and Lempriere's descendants taking Rosel.
In 1413 Guillemote Payn, who had inherited Dielament four years earlier, sold it to Jean Lempriere, Seigneur of Rosel, and Regnaud Le Loreur, Clement Le Hardy, Perrot Le Loreur and Jean Poingdestre through an ouie de paroisse, registered before Bailiff Thomas Danyel. The price was 1,000 crowns and two pipes of Gascogny wine.
Jean Lempriere bought out his partners and his family continued to live at Rosel Manor until they lost it in 1534, and then moved to Dielament. When they again acquired Rosel by marriage in the 18th century they rebuilt the manor and returned there. Dielament may well have been unoccupied thereafter, because John Stead, a prominent author at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries, remarked on the dilapidated state of the manor.
The Lemprieres came close to losing the manor during the Civil War. Philippe Lempriere, the then seigneur, sided with Parliament and in September 1651 he was imprisoned and his property seized for refusing to swear allegiance to the King. A month later Parliamentary forces took over the island and he was released, and all his property and rights returned.
Separation of manor and fief
In 1781 the fiefs of Dielament and Rosel were combined, for reasons which are not apparent. In 1811 Philippe Raoul Lempriere sought an Order in Council to be able to separate them again, and this was granted by the Privy Council in June of that year. This was presumably a direct result of the property being unoccupied and derelict, because he then retained the fief, but sold the manor to George Ingouville, son of Philippe, and Francois Godfray, son of Philippe, who disposed of his share later.
The house passed from the Ingouville family to Francois Philippe Pirouet in 1819, grandson of Francois Pirouet. The 1849 Godfray map shows the house occupied by F Pirouet. Mrs Stevens assumed that he was a tenant, not the owner, but she confused the ownership of the fief and the house. In 1904 the owner was Francis Philip Pirouet, and the house was still in the family in 1917.
The Société Jersiaise paid an official visit in 1904, and again in 1953, when the occupier, seemingly a tenant, was L M Binet.
Much more is known about the occupants and owners of Dielament Manor than the house itself, or rather the houses, because it has been rebuilt at least twice. Old Jersey Houses is somewhat vague about this. Volume One refers to the colombier and the gates, but the only reference to the house is that 'nothing of the old house remains', almost suggesting that there was no Dielament Manor in 1965.
There was, and in the second volume of the book, published in 1977, Mrs Stevens wrote:
- "The main house has been much altered over the years, and all but the north facade has been covered in stucco; it looks as if it was intended to cover it all, as there are handsome moulded pilasters at the corners, and the north face has brick shaping also intended to carry stucco, pilasters and a moulded cornice.
- "Conversions here have taken an unusual course, as there are three storeys at the back and two on the south, resulting in many steps and changes in level."
Datestones at the property add further confusion to its story. 17 MLP IC 49 on one of the farm outbuildings is fairly straightforward. That confirms ownership by Michel Lempriere (1695-1762) who married Jeanne Cabot in 1713. The stone presumably marks an addition or major alteration to the property, 32 years before the fief was combined with Rosel, and 62 years before they were again divided and the property sold out of Lempriere ownership.
Quite how the Renouf family fit into the picture is uncertain, but there are two further stones. That inscribed 18 CRN ELCN 42, described in the Jersey Datestone Register was being at Dielament Manor Farm, was carved for Charles Renouf, of Trinity, and Elizabeth Le Cornu, of St Saviour, who had been married 15 years earlier in 1827. A further carving on the south gate shows ELCN 1836, and CRN separately.
The datestone register notes that Le Cornu family members in the district say that these stones were for Edmund Le Cornu, but this seems unlikely. Why would his initials have followed that of his wife, 'CRN' on the 1842 stone? But further, there is no record of an Edmund Le Cornu born or married at this time. 'ELCN' must be Elizabeth.
One of the most striking elements of the property are the gates on the south boundary. Originally the gates opened on to a long driveway to the house, described by Stead in 1809 as 'a magnificent avenue of lofty beeches. Today the gates are derelict, as they have been for some considerable time, and they lead nowhere, with just a field behind them, and no longer any sign of beeches. The gates are not even part of the present-day property. Since 1986, and possibly much longer, the land on which they stand has been owned by Le Don Baudains.
21st century sale
In 2005 the manor was put on the market for £3.75 million by the English family which had owned it for 20 years. It was described thus:
- "The manor house stands at the end of a quarter-mile tree-lined drive, surrounded by 24 acres of grassland, woodland and lawned gardens with a tennis court, and a swimming pool. Remodelled in rendered granite round a much older building, the house has been impeccably maintained. It has four reception rooms, six bedrooms, and five bathrooms, plus a number of traditional outbuildings, including a colombier to further underline its manorial status.
A search in the Public Registry on behalf of Jerripedia has revealed that the property is presently owned by Charles John George Mullins, who acquired it on 1 September 2006 from Carolyn East nee Overland for £3.1 million (a substantial discount on the advertised price the year before). The property was owned in 1964 by James Lewis Stansfield Huelin, who sold it to William Openshaw Street on 12 November 1964. He bought 'Le Manoir de Diélament', including the colombier and a large tract of farmland, from Robert Key Jeffrey on 15 October 1955. We can be sure it is the correct property as it included the “colombier”. Mr Key had acquired it from brothers Wilfred George Le Ruez, Edward John Le Ruez and Philip Corbel Le Ruez by three separate contracts dated 16 January 1943. The Le Ruez’s inherited the property by virtue of the registration of the will of realty of their late father Philippe Le Ruez registered on 07 November 1942 and a partage entered into between them on 19 November 1942. Philippe Le Ruez acquired the property in two parcels from William Francois Pirouet; firstly by contract dated 03 November 1923 and secondly by contract dated 19 November 1927 from William Francois Pirouet in his capacity as heir to the collateral succession of his late brother Walter Clement Pirouet.
William Francois (or Francis) Pirouet had right to the manor by virtue of the partage of realty of his late father Francois Philippe Pirouet on 23 December 1905. F P Pirouet in turn acquired it from his father, also Francois Philippe Pirouet, by a partage on 09 November 1878. Diélament (including the colombier) was sold by Philippe Raoul Lempriere, Seigneur of Diélament, to George Ingouville and Francois Godfray jointly on 17 September 1811. Ingouville and Godfray entered into a partage to split up Diélament on 27 February 1819. They appear to have been business partners of some sort and transacted several hundred times between them. Godfray took the main house (including Le Jardin du Colombier) and Ingouville a property called La Forge. A property called La Vielle Forge, Diélament Farm, Trinity mentioned in a contract passed in 2011, is very likely the same one as it is described as being immediately to the west of Diélament Manor.
The manor and colombier were sold by Francois Godfray to Francois Philippe Pirouet on 13 March 1819, who had it until his death in 1877.
Diélament Farm is now a completely separate (although nearby) property and was last conveyed in 2009. The contract shows that its western avenue was originally part of the greater Diélament Manor property and was carved out from its ownership in 1985, but the remainder of the property came from a completely different root of title. No property with the name “Diélament Manor Farm” is recorded as having been conveyed since 1980.
The Great Escape connection
The crash of a Spitfire piloted by a Frenchman in the grounds of the manor during World War Two has links to the film The Great Escape
- Lemprieres, Seigneurs of Diélament
- Diélament colombier
- The story of the sale of the manor to the Lempriere family
- A family tree of the Lemprieres who owned the fief and eventually sold the manor