A history of Longueville Manor
From The Islander, published 1939 - this article was based on, and copies sections of, a much more detailed history in the journal of the Rev Christian Bateman, one of the manor's owners.
Longueville Manor, among the oldest and most interesting of Jersey's manor houses, is perhaps the best known to the public by virtue of its proximity to the main road, but like many of the Island's Seignorial homes the building today is the result of restoration carried out from time to time by different Seigneurs.
It is not known when Longueville Manor was first built, but tracing back through the years we find it was a manor in 1367 when William de Barrentin sold the fief to Raoul Lempriere and Guiles Payne, joint Seigneurs.
Tradition has it that prior to that date it was a nunnery — of which slight indications remain in the Nun's Walk and in the dining room or Great Hall where, it is said, the refectory table, a fine piece of antique furniture which is still there, was used by the nuns.
This last point is of course, unconfirmed, but if it was not used by nuns, there is every reason for assuming it might have been used by the priests living with the early Siegneurs. In those feudal times not only did the Seigneur have his tradesmen living around him in the manor building, but there was also room for priests as these little communities had their own chapels.
Little seems to have been done to restore the original buildings, which formed a double square, prior to 1863 when the manor was bought by the Rev W B Bateman, an Irishman. Finding the whole estate in a bad state of dilapidation and decay he set about a general restoration.
On examining the manor house today with a journalist's eye, not a historian's, we find the structure appointments in a good condition yet still retaining its historical atmosphere. Focal point of interest to a visitor to the manor today is the dining room, or what was termed the Great Hall, at the back of the house, with its walls panelled with oak carving. It is due to Rev Bateman's restoration that this panelling is in the condition it is today, for in his journal he describes the extensive alterations he made to it.
From this we learn that the oak panelling at the bottom of the room, opposite the fireplace, is the original panelling repaired and replaced, but for the walls about forty carved oak chests were broken up and used for lining.
A door opens from this room directly into the base of the tower which also came in for attention during the rest oration when it was elevated to its present height — about one third taller than it was originally, with the result that it now dominates the manor buildings.
More beautiful carving is found over and surrounding the fireplace of a small room to the right of the entrance hall used these days as a study or "snuggery". Elizabethan figures in a series of panels form the motif here, all surmounted by the arms of Nichol (or Nicholle) which family held the fief as Seigneurs from 1470 until 1595.
Mention of this family reminds us of a ghostly legend. For four centuries Hoste Nicolle, seigneur from 1546 to 1564 and Bailiff of Jersey, was held up as a bogey to refractory children. This tale from which he gained this reputation tells of the cruel manner in which he sent a butcher named antoine to his death. Antoine lived in one of the manor buildings and had a nearby field on an advantageous lease from Hote Nichol’s father with a right of way through the courtyard. Hoste sought to break this lease and privilege but Antoine refused to surrender. So the Seigneur, aided by a servant, killed two of his own sheep and smuggled the carcases into Antoine's cellar. The result was that Antoine was sentenced to death by a court which sat in the Great Hall of the manor. As the butcher was led out, he called upon the Seigneur to "appear with me before a righteous judge and answer to Him for my death, in three weeks from today".
Strangely enough the Seigneur met his death three weeks later. One legend ascribes it to the Devil who appeared at the Manor with a spare horse, invited Nichol to go for a ride, which he did, and was never seen again. More feasible is the story that Nichol committed suicide in his bedroom on the very day on which Antoine would call him to judgment. This last explanation is borne out by the parochial records which state that he was in the cross roads like a dog."
Today Longueville Manor is a beautiful yet simple home with its warm woodwork and 23 acres of land, much of which is occupied by trees, shrubs and lawns. It has passed through many hands and while Mrs Doris Obbard (whose father, the late Mr Wyndham Henry Williams, bought the manor in 1920) who now lives im America, is the present holder of the fief, as Dame of Longueville, the manor has been occupied for the last three years by F H Hewson, who finds it a peaceful anchorage after years of worldwide travel.
Mr Hewson is a lover of trees and paintings with the result that while the grounds are rich in their variey of arborial specimens, the house boasts many beautiful and valuable paintings.