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.References:
Varberg Fortress was built in 1287-1300 by count Jacob Nielsen as protection against his Danish king, who had declared him an outlaw after the murder of King Eric V of Denmark. Jacob had close connections with king Eric II of Norway and as a result got substantial Norwegian assistance with the construction. The fortress, as well as half the county, became Norwegian in 1305.
King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.
The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.
It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.