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:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.