The History and Architecture of Manoir Le Hot

There have been several architectural reports made about Manoir Le Hot over the years, and here are a couple of them, that we were given when we bought it in 2006.

The entrance arch with a blocked-up pedestrian arch and decapitated turret

From Vikland. La Revue de Cotentin No.20 Spring 1981

……………….We continue through Saint Sauveur-de-Pierrepont. There is extensive countryside apparently almost deserted, but which contains, widely-dispersed, a great number of large agricultural houses or, more often, tiny little ones.

Directly to the East towards a point in the marsh is Ingrehou, a huge ancient farm with beautiful very picturesque ruins. But, further again, an ancient rock causeway leads to the site of an extremely ancient castle which only exists as vague contours on the ground. This was obviously a motte-and-bailey castle abandoned centuries ago. A totally ruined village preceded this castle.

At Duvees, there are some very modest interesting houses and cowsheds belonging to agricultural labourers and workers.

Le Manoir du Hot is the major set of buildings in the district. It is an enormous manor-house….You enter it along a narrow driveway with the traditional double gateway-opening in an enormous windowless wall. To the right of the entrance, the base of the wall is in the water of a large pond which is the remains of a moat; there is a half-attached cylindrical tower covering the surrounds of the gun emplacements.

Passing through the entrance, we find ourselves in an immense square almost-closed courtyard. To the right, the south-west wing is an extremely long dwelling with 17th Century mullioned windows. The central door is quite cramped, but it is surmounted by an ornamented pediment of the 16th Century, and neighbours a splendid window of the same epoch.

The back of the building has a high cylindrical tower and, at the angle, a very beautiful watchtower turret.

The southern corner of the farm square is reinforced by a round tower now sadly reduced to a single base section.

To the left of the entrance, the north-west side is a long multi-purpose building with a cowshed, pigsties and barns on the ground floor, and rooms on the first floor that you reach via vast stone steps. Some very beautifully-sculptured dormer windows ornament the roof.

The two other sides of the courtyard square are only farm buildings.

From Societe D’Archaelogie et D’Histoire de La Manche. Section de Valognes. August 1998 ‘Between the Mountains and Swampland’

Turn right at the crossroads of La Croix Blondel – a very simple cross whose shaft of granite allows us to to date it as being from the medieval period.

From there we go down towards Le Hot. As soon as one passes through the carriage-gate, well-defended in times past by a little de-capped tower, one enters an immense, almost entirely-closed courtyard.

To the left there is an enormous building adorned with 5 superb sculptured dormer windows; this building must have been used for habitation.

The dwelling-house to the right has openings from several periods – Flamboyant Gothic (end of the 15th Century- first part of the 16th C., Louis XIII (ruled 1610-1643), and the 18th Century. The back of the house is just as eccentric.

Societe D’Archaelogie de La Manche – Melange, Treizieme Serie. 1984 Bibliography: Histoire de Pierrepont, par Marc Levoyer, Instituteur, Multigraphie, 1983 IllustrĂ¢tes.Epuise Some manor-houses of St.Sauveur de Pierrepont

Manoir Le Hot

The toponymy ‘Le Hoc’ might come from German and means ‘hook’ (spiked stick) or ‘projecting rock’. Since there is nothing at the manor-house to suggest this, one must consider the name more closely. It is true that in Jersey, ‘Le Hot’ has the same sense as ‘Le Hoc’. (Vikland, La Revue du Cotentin No.20, 1981 says that ‘Le Hot’ is a bastardisation of the phrase ‘Le Haut’, from the old Anglo-Saxon ‘hot’ meaning ‘height’ i.e. ‘The High Manor’ as opposed to ‘Le Bas Manoir’, ‘The Lower Manor’.)

Le Hot has never officially been a noble estate. By coincidence, Jean Desmaires, c.1501-91) bought Le Hot (before 1577), and they also bought the estate of Auvers-en-Pierrepont, but without its manor-house. So, in the event, though not in title, Le Hot found itself the headquarters of the whole estate. During the course of the 18th Century, notary deeds said as much, speaking of the ‘seigneurial manor-house of St. Sauveur-de-Pierrepont.’

While the older branch of the Desmaires family took pride of place at St.Sauveur -le- Vicomte and there built a sumptuous manor-house in the 16th Century (of which there exists now only the entrance), the younger branch, installed at Le Hot, attempted to follow in their footsteps several dozen years later.

The last Desmaires of this branch, Marie-Suzanne (1672-1746), widow of Antoine Plessard, split her time between St.Sauveur-le-Vicomte and Le Hot. Her son, Guillaume-Antoine Plessard kept the estate of Auvers, but (during the reign of Louis XVI) he separated himself from Le Hot, transferring it to Charles-Joseph-Francois Tuffin, a knight, overlord and owner of Villiers-le-Pre and La Croix-en-Avranchin. He had a stormy relationship with his farmers, the Grossin family (information from Chartier de Mesnil, at Brehal, article 235).

For a very long time, there have been farmers at Le Hot, certainly ever since Rene Desmaires, overlord and owner of Auvers-en-Pierrepont, signed a financial agreement on September 28 1696 with Mme. Marie-Magdalene La Neel, widow of M. Laurens Fossey, master of La Martiniere, tenant farmer of Le Hot (for which the lease cost 1,400 livres a year).

The entrance is very picturesque, with carriage and pedestrian gates and a circular tower whose foot is bathed in a pool in the centre of which is a spring.

The buildings enclose an enormous courtyard whose outline has scarcely changed since the 16th Century.

The dwelling-house includes elements from three periods:

  • At the extreme left, on the ground floor, there is an elegant lattice-work window in Flamboyant Gothic (15thC.) style. Inside there is a 16thC. fireplace with projecting corbels and a lintel with a beautiful surround on a blocked-up door.
  • The major part of the facade is Louis XIII (1610-43), with 2 entrance doors, side by side, one surmounted by a triangular pediment, the other with a considerable transom, single and double little windows on the ground floor. On the first floor, there are 3 Louis XIII lattice-work windows, and a half-latticed one. Under the line of the roof, there are remnants of the bases of dormer windows which were above the windows on the first floor, and which must have resembled the sumptuous dormer windows of Chiffrevast or of Crosville.
  • On the ground floor, to the right of one of the two doors, there is a window with with a lowered arch from the 18thC.

On the back facade, there is again a mixture, this time of two styles:

  • Flamboyant Gothic – a turret with a staircase topped with a watchtower, a bevelled double little window, and a watchtower at the corner of the building.
  • Louis XIII – lattice-work windows, half-latticed windows, and traces of destroyed dormer windows.

To the left of the entrance-gate, a long building presents meagre openings towards the exterior and interior of the courtyard. The first floor is accessible using two exterior staircases, one at the gable end, the other along the side. The latter staircase leads into two twin doors which have a surrounding lintel, sporting 2 windows with bevelled mullions. Five Louis XIII dormer windows, with fully-arched panes, platforms for statues and semi-circular pediments punctuate this facade. The 3rd. and 5th. windows are, in addition, decorated with fluting.

Le Hot is the most spectacular civil building of the 2 districts due to the scope of its buildings, to their quality, to their picturesque nature and to their state of preservation. In addition, one finds there a gathering of a number of elements, some rare, some less so, which one usually finds in isolation :

  1. The mixture of styles, corresponding to two main periods of construction – one, the end of the 15th C. or, more likely, the beginning of the 16thC., and the other, the period under rather reign of Louis XIII (early 17thC.) These two periods of construction are particularly well-represented at St. Nicholas and at St. Sauveur, at those times when the owners were resident.
  2. The presence of two dwelling-houses in the midst of the same complex – one in the building to the right of the entrance-gate, the other at the left at the top of a staircase. One is able to note that these two dwelling-houses, built in the 16thC. were both modernised under Louis XIII (early 17thC.). This presence of two houses is a relatively rare occurrence and one which deserves to be examined……It is difficult to explain the reason for having two houses, because there is no way of finding out the conditions of tenancy there.
  3. The presence of a dwelling-house on the first floor – a rare occurrence (another example is Le Houget at Reville. It also perhaps occurs more in the south of the Departement.
  4. The presence of two twin doors leading to two different rooms – also a rare thing.

Extract from a leaflet about the Church in Saint-Sauveur-de-Pierrepont

…..Pierrepont (by which the commune of St.-Sauveur-de-Pierrepont was known) seems to have been an important place even before the Norman invasion. Several Roman roads borrowed this famous bridge coming from Valognes (Alauna) Coutances (Cosedia), Portbail (Grannorum) and St.Come de Mont – Carentan (Crociatonum).

A hamlet situated a little distance from the church called itself the town. A number of springs were discovered in a field named La Dallerie, and traces of tiles have been found near La Martellerie (‘Brickworks’).

There are also a number of manor-farms in the area of the 16thC. and 17thC., of which the most important is that of Le Hot, which may have been, in origin a royal Merovingian house (c.550-752 AD.)

There you will find:

Arched chariot and pedestrian gateways

A circular tower surrounded by a pool and springs

An immense courtyard surrounded by buildings of which the dwelling-house on the right has mullioned windows (15thC. and 16thC., Gothic Flamboyant) and a front facade of Louis XIII (1610-43)

On the back facade, there is a circular turret, and a bartizan (small overhanging turret on the wall)

To the left of the gateway is a long building with two exterior staircases, another dwelling-house on the first floor, and Louis XIII dormer-windows.

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