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An affinity with

buildings and affection

for architecture is

shared by many people,

unsurprisingly, as

buildings make a powerful

impact on our daily lives,

and none more so than

our own houses.

From earliest times architects and builders

have striven to improve upon form and

function; to be innovative in designing living

spaces that are ultimately fashioned by

contemporary patterns reflecting the society

of its day.

In a 1943 speech to the House of Commons,

Winston Churchill said “We shape our

buildings, and afterwards, our buildings

shape us” typifying the bond between

houses and people. In his new book Trevor

Cooper explores Guernsey’s architectural

and social heritage to illustrate the kinship

each has on the other with descriptions of

the society and conventions that influenced

the shape of Guernsey’s architectural


Pierre Henry of La Haye du Puits, for

example, extended his considerable wealth

and his Castel estate during Guernsey’s

prolific knitting industry of the 16th century,

and James de Beauvoir’s 17th century

redevelopment of Les Granges du Beauvoir

Manor made it the only three-storey house

outside of town for more than one hundred


Architect Andrew Dyke’s foreword to the

book explains how Guernsey’s unique and

strategic location contributed to merchants

accruing vast fortunes as a result of the

Napoleonic wars, leading to remodelling

of late medieval farmhouses and extensive

building of Georgian terraces and fine

Regency villas. John Allaire purchased The

Mount in 1815 (what is now Government

House) having amassed a personal fortune

of £1,000,000.

Inheritance safeguarded family wealth.

John Andros inherited Normanville from his

father and Sausmarez Manor from his uncle,

having married his cousin Elizabeth who had

inherited Les Annevilles Manor.

Jean Guille’s family owned St George

for nearly 300 years and he was diligent

in keeping accounts that record the

unsurpassed profitability of the St George

estate and provide an insight into early-18th

century rural life. In stark contrast, Thomas

Gosselin’s household accounts at Springfield

show the wages of domestic staff during the

19th century.

Wealth and economy form only part of the

stories that each of the 52 featured houses

reveal in colourful lives, loves, loss and

sacrifice. But house design is the book’s

priority, the finished product with which

people associate most, and with more than

100 photographs readers are encouraged

to look closely at familiar houses and gaze

possibly for the first time upon others less

familiar, often hidden from public view. The

timeline spans across fortified medieval

buildings and expansive farming estates

to the elegance and exuberance of the

Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods.

There is also a glossary clarifying relative

phrases and expressions, much of it steeped

in local tradition, and the People & Places

section will inspire anyone wishing to

explore further what interests them most

in what is being acclaimed to be a most

comprehensible and well researched book.

Mansion, Manor & Merchant Houses is

published by Blue Ormer Publishing www.

and also available at local

retail outlets at £30.00, the net sale proceeds

being donated to local charities and

principally the Guernsey Cheshire Home.

Trevor Cooper - author of a new local book, Mansion, Manor & Merchant Houses.