La Fontaine

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Jersey houses


La Fontaine, Grouville


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Property name

La Fontaine

Location

Route des Cotils, Grouville

Type of property

Farm group with 17th century origins

Families associated with the property

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Datestones

  • TLB EBT 1767 - on a flight of external stone steps in the outbuildings
  • TLB EBT 1769 - on a gatepost at the entrance to the farmyard, for Thomas Labey (1710-1785) who married Elizabeth Bertram. Thomas inherited La Fontaine in 1744 from his father, Philippe (see history below).

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

This extensive farm group retains its integrity in plan and in construction features. The exterior of all the buildings still display fine architectural proportions appropriate to the original function.

The massing of the group is significant within itself and contributes to its setting by defining the roadside.

Internally the fireplaces are of significant historical and architectural quality, as is the later early 19th century interior stair and joinery.

Thought to be built around 1697 - date appears on the roadside gable. Gatepost at entrance and external steps both have date of 1769 on them. Windows no later than 1830, similar date to simple banisters and newels on the stairs.

Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795.

Main two-storey, five-bay house, with two-storey, three-bay wing to the east with further lean-to to east gable. Parallel to the north are T-shaped outbuildings with throughway to detached coach house to north.

Old Jersey Houses and Grouville millennium book

This property is featured in Voume Two and Grouville, the History of a Country Parish, the parish's millennium book. OJH refers to the datestones, the front door, the 'pleasing' windows and the 'simple' staircase.

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One entry in the Grouville book repeats these observations, but a second gives a much more detailed history:

Taking its name from a nearby spring, this property appears to have been owned by Jean Renaut in the 17th century. His heir Richard subsequently sold the house and farm to Thomas Labey by a deed passed in November 1692.
The property may have been rebuilt by Thomas around 1697. A comment made in an old notabook concerning waste land in the parish would tend to bear this out. Compiled by the Rev Jean Lempriere, Rector of Grouville from 1693 to 1733, it contains a reference to La Maison de Jean Regnauld c'est ou Th: Labey a basti. [1] This would also explain why the stone bearing the date 1697 was retained by later Labey owners.
Eventually the house passed to Thomas Labey's second son, Philippe (1683-1743), who lived in Longueville, St Saviour. After his death La Fontaine was chosen by his second son, Thomas (1712-1785) as his share of his father's estate. He certainly left his mark on the property and, it could be said, on the parish as well. Twice Constable (1764-69 and 1773-76) and a Lieutenant in the Jersey Militia, his name can also be found on the bell at Groujville CHurch, installed in 1768 during his first term of office as Constable.
His son Thomas (1749-1803) was also Constable from 1783-85 and 1798-1802. A privateer captain during the American Revolution, he was also a Captain in the Third Regiment of the Militia. His son, also Thomas (1784-1853) followed him as Constable, from 1820-23. He was also a Captain in the Militia from 1816-25. After his death the Labeys of La Fontaine elected to play a more muted role in Parish life.
The next Thomas (1820-1891) served as Procureur du Bien Public from 1846-55, as did his eldest son Thomas Philippe (1852-1927) in 1881-84 and 1907-13, sharing the post with his distant cousin, John William Labey, of Home Farm in the last year of his second term. His younger brother Julius may have owned the nearby Chapelle de Sainte Marguerite and then Homestead.
La Fontaine remains in the Labey family into the 21st century.

Notes and references

  1. The house of Jean Regnauld is where Thomas Labey has built
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