Archaeologists hope to find ancient Samarès buildings

A LOCAL lord of the manor, whose privileges date back to Norman times, is backing plans to dig up his front lawn in the hope of casting new light on his historic home.

The Seigneur of Samarès, Vincent Obbard, with dog Lily, on the grass area that will be dug up by the Société Jersiaise to search for ancient buildings. Picture: ROB CURRIE (21420217)
The Seigneur of Samarès, Vincent Obbard, with dog Lily, on the grass area that will be dug up by the Société Jersiaise to search for ancient buildings. Picture: ROB CURRIE (21420217)

The Seigneur of Samarès, Vincent Obbard, says that when he was approached by the Société Jersiaise, which wants to undertake archaeological investigations at Samarès Manor, he was only to too happy to oblige.

The group’s archaeological section are hoping to dig exploratory trenches in an extensive area of lawn that stretches south – from the manor house to the dove house – to look for the foundations of earlier buildings which appear on a map of the Island dated 1790.

However, as the manor and its grounds are among the most historic in Jersey, no turf can be cut or ground broken until planning approval has been granted.

‘Over the years, different people at different times have spent many funds redoing the place,’ Mr Obbard said. ‘Parts of the manor date back to the 12th century, but it has been massively altered over the years.

‘It is a very historic site but we know so little about it. While we know the names of the people who have built it we know very little about its buildings.’

If the proposal gets the go-ahead, Mr Obbard says the digs would take place in July as part of an Islandwide two-week Festival of Archaeology. And on Saturday 7 July the public will be invited to see the work and meet the Société’s archaeologists.

Mr Obbard says he has been told by an engineer that a cobbled road once led from the manor to St Clement’s coastline and he is keen to discover if this is true.

However, the work will concentrate on discovering the foundations of farm buildings believed to have been built in the 1830s, when the then owners, the Hammond family, carried out an extensive rebuilding programme.

‘Our forgotten history is our loss and there is a lot of the Island’s history that has been lost,’ Mr Obbard said.

‘If we do have an opportunity to find out about that forgotten history, then we should take it up.’

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