Sausmarez Manor

Guernsey, United Kingdom

The first mention of the de Sausmarez family in Guernsey is at the consecration of the Vale church in 1115 followed by a letter dated 1254 in which Prince Edward, Lord of the Isles, afterwards King Edward I, ordered an enquiry into the rights of the Abbot and Monks of St. Michel to 'wreck' in the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey. Of this oldest manor house only a fragment remains. Its rough but remarkably solid stonework forms the basis of an outhouse on the north-east side of the main buildings and surrounds an arched doorway which was later blocked in with quite a different form of stone. This is one of the most ancient fragments of unrepaired Norman masonry in the island and can be fairly confidently dated as mid-13th century work.

John Andros built the second house around 1557, running down the slope of the shallow valley towards the fish pond, at right angles to the original one. In a party-wall on the ground floor of this building there is carved, on a lintel over a door leading from the mainhall to a smaller room, the initials I.A. and the date 1585. The lower end of the house is now used as a craft metal workshop, and the upper, which was restored and altered, once in 1759 and again exactly two hundred years later, is still inhabited.

Sir Edmund (1637-1714) rebuilt the manor for himself. The beauty and style of the building was influenced of New England. Matthew de Sausmarez was a Seigneur from 1774 to 1820. His main contribution to the estate was the building of the walls which enclose the potager, (vegetable garden) the orchard and the tennis court and the restoration of the old barn facing the Tudor house and to the south-west of it.

General George de Sausmarez pulled down most of his father's house in 1873. He replaced it on the first floor with a large dining-room and still larger drawing-room. Despite the unfortunate appearance which their windows and general design present from outside, in strong contrast to the Queen Anne facade, the interiors of these rooms have a peculiar charm. The same startling mixture of happy and unhappy touches of inspiration characterise the large entrance-hall which the General built on the north-east side of the Queen Anne house to link it with the Tudor one. The main feature of this hall and gallery is a riotous medley of wood-carving, some of it Burmese, some of it copies of the same by a local craftsman and some of it consisting of Old Testament figures and scenes, believed to have been acquired from Breton churches where they had been put up for sale. The whole presents an effect which, one feels, would meet with the approval of John Betjeman with his sympathetic eye for such Victorian fantasy.

After the General's death his widow lived on at the Manor, as Dame, with her sister and brother until her death in 1915. She was succeeded in the Seigneurie by her nephew, Sir Havilland de Sausmarez who, after a distinguished judicial career in the service of the Foreign Office, including serving as Chief Judge of the British Supreme Court for China for 16 years became the second member of his family to hold the office of Bailiff of Guernsey. He died during the German occupation of the Island. His persistent refusal to install electric light saved the manor from being requisitioned by the occupying power. His nephew, the late Seigneur, Cecil de Sausmarez, after a distinguished career in the Diplomatic Service and whilst a successful people deputy carried out an extensive programme of restoration and modernisation of the property.

Today Sausmarez Manor is open to the public and includes a beautiful garden and statue park.

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Founded: 1873
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in United Kingdom

Rating

4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

James M (2 years ago)
It all felt a bit run down with various paths around the grounds closed. Nothing encouraged us to go in the house so we didn't. There were some lovely sculptures in the ground and a lovely little duck pond near a little cafe.
Cath Fielding (2 years ago)
Beautiful gardens, well worth visiting whilst in Guernsey. One of the RHS partner gardens and available on the Gardeners World 2 for 1 card. A lot of work has gone into making the trail through the semi tropical garden with a sculpture trail along the way. Outdoor play area for kids, shops and a tea room also a little train running on certain days. Didn’t go in the Manor House.
Richard and Paul (2 years ago)
An interesting place to visit, very sweet garden with interesting sculptures. The house outside is charming. The notice board at the entrance looked as though it could do with a clean and an update...maybe streamlined so the information is clearer. We didn't visit the main garden as it was cash only and we felt the price was a little steep. Parking facility was good but generally the whole place looked as though it needed a good tidy up. However it does have its charm and we would certainly visit again.
Dawn Froom (2 years ago)
We were privileged to to shown around this beautiful Manor house by the Lord himself. What a wonderful man and what better way could you get the story of the Manor and his amazing family. The gardens were full full rhododendrons. Well worth a visit.
Kate Morgan (2 years ago)
Beautiful house, we just missed the tour so didn't see inside but next time we'll definitely time our visit more carefully! The grounds are gorgeous, and we also paid to go around the sculpture trail which was interesting enough to keep my six year old entertained as well as being through some stunning sub-tropical gardens with some very interesting plants. We also visited the tea rooms and enjoyed a delicious cream tea. They also have a pitch and putt course which looks lovely (according to my husband!) and a gift shop which also sells some locally roasted coffee and herbal tea blends. In the summer, there's also a mini train that runs through the grounds. Well worth a visit.
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