La Fontaine, St My

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Jersey houses


La Fontaine, St Mary


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The bell which still stands above the roof of La Fontaine


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Property name

La Fontaine

Location

Route de Ste Marie, with present-day access from Rue es Viberts

Type of property

Mid 18th century farm group

Valuations

No recent transactions

Families associated with the property

  • Binet: The property would appear to have been in the Binet family from at least the mid-18th century until the 20th. Although it would seem logical that Herbert Le Maistre Binet (see datestones below) was a descendant of Jean Binet and Elizabeth Arthur, we have been unable to make that connection. Although there are some 500 Binet baptisms across the whole island in our database, only 59 of them were in St Mary, and they are divided between only eight family groups, all of which seem to be related to each other, but with no obvious connection to Binets in other parishes.

Jean, whose parents we have not been able to identify, and Elizabeth Arthur had seven children between 1751 and1767. We can trace Herbert Le Maistre Binet's ancestry back three generations to Jean Binet and Judith de Caen, who married in St Mary in 1800 and were both apparently born in the parish. We suspect that this Jean was a grandson of Jean and Elizabeth Arthur, but have not been able to prove this. We created a new skeleton tree for the St Mary Binets in 2021, with generational links which have yet to be proved.

The inscriptions on the arch, pictured right, are a mystery. What we read as MABN on the right would appear to be for Mary Ann Binet. Herbert Le Maistre Binet's father, who died young, had a sister Mary Ann, but she married Joshua John Le Masurier, which would not fit with the initials on the left of the arch. It is also strange that if Herbert inherited the property, his aunt's initials would be shown there, particularly as she was the youngest child of John and Elizabeth Binet. The bell in the picture certainly seems to match that which shows on the property today (pictured in the box at the top of the page) and there is no other historic La Fontaine property in St Mary. The frontage of the property on Route de Ste Marie is very long, and the other side, where the arch is/was situated, is hidden from public view along a private drive.

John, who was married to Elizabeth, died aged only 48 in 1855, when Mary Ann was only six. His widow Elizabeth, nee Le Montais brought up her four children (the fifth died in infancy) at the property which was referred to in early censuses as 'near the Church' and was later called La Fontaine. She was head of household in 1861 but ten years later she had left La Fontaine and was living in St Lawrence with daughters Elizabeth, Ann and Mary Ann. Their brother Jean had married in 1870 and we have not been able to find him in the 1871 census. In 1881 he had returned to La Fontaine, living there with his wife Mary Ann, nee Le Maistre and their only son Herbert.

His sister Mary Ann did not marry Joshua John Le Masurier until later in the 1871 census year. All of this compounds the mystery of the initials and 1869 date on the La Fontaine arch. It is just possible that the initials on the right side are MALM, which would match Mary Ann Le Maistre, but we don't think so. And we cannot read the left side engraving as IBN or JBN, which would be needed to signifiy Jean Binet. And if the arch was erected for this couple, why does it bear the date 1869, the year before their marriage, and seemingly some years before they lived at La Fontaine?

Datestones

The 1757 datestone. An early example with entwined hearts
The engraved stones shown in this picture are something of a mystery. The picture is from the photographic library of La Société Jersiaise and described as an Evening Post photograph of La Fontaine, St Mary, taken to show the bell. The picture is not dated. There seems little doubt that it is the La Fontaine featured on this page, but the satellite view on the left does not appear to show the arch.


  • IBN ♥♥ EAT 1757 - For Jean Binet and Elizabeth Arthur
  • H LE M BINET 1897 on two barn lintels - For Herbert Le Maistre Binet
  • 1869 Dates keystone on main entrance arch
  • HL ♥♥ MABN - either side of arch, HL uncertain





The 2020 satellite view shows how extensive a property this is. The road at the top of the picture is Route de Ste Marie. Two long barns back on to this main road - the one with the bell, part of which is shown at the top of the page, and the dressed granite section shown in the photograph below. The original entrance to the property was on Route de Ste Marie in the top right of the picture. The main house with its circular apple crusher, pictured at the top of this page, can be seen in the top centre. Behind it is the courtyard surrounded by substantial outbuildings. The arch would have stood at the back corner of the main house, but this view suggests that it has been taken away, or perhaps relocated elsewhere on the property.

Historic Environment Record entry

Listed building

A high quality example of an historic farm group. The mid-18th century, five-bay house has fine ashlar stonework, and the extensive outbuildings are substantial structures retaining their historic features and character. As a whole it is a cohesive group, the north boundary defining the roadside and forming an important feature at the western entrance to the village.

The house emulates the polite architecture of Georgian fashion but with a continuing local character – including an early example of the double heart motif on the datestone. 19th century combination farm buildings with glazed upper windows are unique to Jersey and the Channel Islands.

Methodist services were held in the building on the roadside before Bethlehem Methodist Hall was built. Shown on the Richmond Map of 1795.

Old Jersey Houses

The south-facing wing may be older than the main house, and it has one chamfered lintel over a door. The stable buildings, very good examples, are dated 1897 and have an attractive weather cock.







Notes and references

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