Fernhill

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Jersey houses


Fernhill, St Helier


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This property on Grande Route de Mont à l'Abbé, variously known as Fernhill and Fern Hill, is a listed building dating back to the 16th century, with additions in the late 17th century, early 18th century and mid-19th century

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Property name

Fernhill

Other names

  • Fernhill Farm
  • Fern Hill
  • L'Ancienne Maison Le Geyt
  • Le Geyt Block
  • Laurens House

Location

Grande Route de Mont a l'Abbe, St Helier

Type of property

House with 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th century features

Families associated with the property

The first family associated with the property was that of Le Geyt dit Rauvet. It was the home of Philippe Le Geyt, the noted authority on Jersey law, successively Greffier, Jurat, Lieut-Bailiff, and Juge Délegué. Born in 1635, he was the son of Philippe Le Geyt and Jeanne Seale. He never married, and died in 1716.

In 1693 the childless Philippe Le Geyt sold the property to Jean Laurens, who extended the house by adding four bays to the south. When Philippe Laurens also died childless at the end of the 18th century, the property was inherited by his sister Esther - wife of Clement Le Gallais. Their son, also Clement Le Gallais, inherited Fernhill in 1804. The property has been owned by the Le Quesne family since the late 19th century.

The property was eventually inherited by Magdeleine Laurens (1774- ) daughter of George and Magdeleine, nee de Ste Croix. She married Jean Le Gallais in 1794, and the house was eventually inherited by Ann Susan Le Gallais, who married Charles John Le Quesne. It passed to their son Charles Clement Le Quesne, and then his son Charles Vibert Le Quesne, who was living there during the Occupation with his wife Dorothy Maud, nee Le Brun. Charles died in 1984. The property remains in his family.

Datestones

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Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

16th century with added late 17th century, early 18th century and mid-19th century buildings. Associated with the Fief ès Poingdestres. Fern Hill (previously know as L'Ancienne Maison Le Geyt) is an example of a house that ranks as a manor [1] by association with a fief some distance away in another parish, as ownership of this house runs with the tenure of the little Fief ès Poingdestres in St John.

Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795.

The oldest part of the present complex - now known as the Le Geyt Block - was built before 1584. This building is two-storey, four-bay with granite rubble walls and stone dressings. There is a chamfered stone doorway and window openings. The house originally had living accommodation on the first floor and external stone staircases on the east and west elevations lead to the upper chambers. The stone steps on the east elevation were added in 1649 and partially obscure an earlier chamfered stone door archway at the north end.

The stone staircase to the west front is 17th century or earlier. A corbelled stone fireplace from around 1600 replaced an earlier one in the first floor chamber - its clay hood projecting into the roof space.

Also from this period are the remains of a double arched entrance in the roadside wall at the south-east corner of the garden - the stone uprights being chamfered and double roll-moulded.

The late 17th century four-bay House is two-storey, built with granite rubble walls and stone dressings. There are new softwood painted casement windows. There is a kitchen fire and bread oven (added at later date) at the south end of the ground floor, and a living chamber above, which is approached by an original external stone staircase to the west front.

The first floor contains a late 17th century corbelled stone fireplace. In 1718 a new five-bay house, known as Laurens house, was built at a right angle - north east of the original block. Of note is a 17th century chamfered stone archway, which is reset from the original front behind. The internal detailing is consistent with the early 18th century age of the house and includes a timber fireplace surround on the first floor, and some original ledged and braced timber doors.

During the 19th century, a two-bay extension was added to the south of the four-bay house. It is constructed of rubble granite and originally included a through carriageway that lined up with the roadside entrance gates. This throughway was bricked up in the 19th century and converted to residential use.

Various other smaller outbuildings were also added, and the corner block linking the Laurens house with the Le Geyt block was altered - now having rendered walls. An archway linking that corner building with the outbuildings to the west was demolished before 1987. A detached stable block that was added to the west of the property in the late 19th century.

Old Jersey Houses

This was the home of Philippe Le Geyt, the famous commentator on local law, Greffier, Jurat, Lieut-Bailiff and Juge Delegue. He was the son of Philippe Le Geyt, Jurat, and Jeanne Seale. He was born in 1635 and died in 1711, unmarried.

The east-facing wing has a straight stone stairway leading to upper rooms, which confirms the theory that living rooms were often on the first floor, above farm premises, such as a press house. The room on the left is believed to be where Le Geyt wrote some of his many books, and it retains its noble fireplace.

The doors, although not perhaps quite as old as to have been there in his time, are of considerable age and great interest.

The volieres a pigeons indicate a house of some standing, and indeed this is the house which has for a very long period been associated with the Fief es Poingdestres, though the fief itself is far away in St John's parish.

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Notes and references

  1. While it may have been called a manor house, it should strictly only be given that description if it lies within the fief after which it is named. It is actually on the Fief de Bellozanne. This is a problem frequently encountered with the names of Jersey properties. A seigneur living in a fief but owning a house in a separate fief (in this case in another parish) cannot nominate that as a manor house. Often the description is not given at the time of the property's ownership by a seigneur, but after it has changed hands
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