And that even seems to be the case for the current resident, Philip Malet de Carteret. He has invited Temps Passé into the house he shares with his wife, Adele, to look at one specific document relating to one of his forebears, but so much of his family’s and the Island’s history can be told through the house, and the items contained within it, that it is extremely hard to stay with one topic.
The primary reason for the visit to the manor was to follow up an article written about Mr Malet de Carteret’s ancestor, Sir George Carteret.
Along the way, however, we spoke about a wine bottle from 1714 marked with the name Phile Carteret and a stained glass panel bearing Dumaresq and de Carteret coats of arms. Imagine having wine bottles with your own name stamped on to them. The bottle is not, in fact, the oldest to have been reported on these pages, but it is not of a bad age.
Anyway, back to the reason for the visit and first of all, the original article by the JEP’s Rob Shipley detailing Sir George’s exploits and successful campaign against the Sallee or Barbary pirates who were terrorising the high seas.
George’s campaign was so successful that his efforts were handsomely rewarded by the monarch, Charles I. It is this reward for which Mr Malet de Carteret has the proof, in the shape of a cartouched Latin document which also bears the Royal Seal and is dated 1642.
The document grants three manors in Jersey to Sir George. These were the manors of ‘Melêche, Gremvill and Noirmont’. Mr Malet de Carteret explained that Melêche, in particular, would have been a lucrative manor, covering, as it did, the majority of St Helier. He said that at that time, Seigneurs could collect money from parishioners on each property transaction, so the person with their pocket being supplemented by St Helier would do very nicely indeed.
It was not only his ‘services against the Turks’ which had made Sir George a royal favourite. He was a staunch Royalist and held Jersey as a stronghold and refuge for exiles until he was forced to surrender to government forces in 1651.
Under Charles II, he was among the eight who were granted the Carolinas in 1663. In 1664, James, Duke of York, granted him further territory in America, which was called New Jersey in his honour.
In 1987, Mr Malet de Carteret saw the cartouched document granting Sir George the manors in a catalogue magazine for a Sotheby’s auction and, as he has done with many other artifacts pertaining to the family or the manor, he set about obtaining it and bringing it back.
Once bought, he admits that he forgot about the document for some 13 years. His son Robert was responsible for unearthing it from a pile of other things, and the document – unharmed by its years languishing in a Sotheby’s plastic bag – has now been framed and hung.
The document demonstrates not only the high regard in which Sir George was held, but also just how great his sway was here in Jersey.
Mr Malet de Carteret said that the house has been emptied by various residents, invaders among them, on numerous occasions, and so the process of repatriating items which belonged with the house or with Jersey was a long one, but one which he and his wife enjoy. Slowly, over the years, that collection has been growing.