Noble Fief Columbier - Dovecote
dovecot [COMMENTedText now]dʌvkɒt/
) is a structure intended to house pigeons or doves
 Dovecotes may be free-standing
structures in a variety of shapes, or built into the end of a house or barn. They generally contain pigeonholes
for the birds to nest.
 Pigeons and doves were an
important food source historically in the Middle East and Europe and were kept for their eggs and dung.
for the immense dovecotes or colombiers to be found inthe groundsof thenoblefiefonly. Adovecotecould not be erected without permission
from the King. A curious instance of this law having been disregraded is mentioned in the Assize Roll
of1309, whichstates that Ralph Lemprière had
erected adovecote(in the neighbourhood of what is now
Rouge Bouillon), and he was ordered by the Justices Itinerant to pull it down. At the next Assizes Ralph came
forward and offered a rent of one pound ofpepper perannum for ever so that his heirs
might enjoy thedovecote. The justices allowed it because it
was not to the É.". of the King, and the rent is still paid to the ing's Receiver. Theannéedesuccessionis one of the few seigneurial rights which
remains, and consists, briefly, of a claim on the part of the lord to hold for ayearand a day, for his own benefit, the lands
in hisfiefof a tenant dying without lineal heirs when
the property goes to a collateral branch of the family. If the land is on lease, the lord is entitled to the
rent reserved, but not o the possession of the land. The first manor house of importance is that of St.
Ouen." It stands in the parish of that name in a tiny valley calledLeValdelaMare.It existed in the first decades of the twelfth century
and has been added to and altered, but even now after much modernisation it presents a remarkable appearance.
It lies completely hidden from the road, the main entrance being under a rather pretentious archway of
comparatively recent date, and the winding avenue leads through two rows of fine old oak-trees.
Our colombier belonged to the earlier circular forn).
According to Mr. J. J. Carey's measurement (see Report
Archaeo. Sec. : Proceedings Guernsey Natural Science Soc.
1895) ; it is 58ft. in circumference, with Avails 2ft. lOin.
thick and a doorway 3ft. Sin. wide. At present the ruins are
from 12 to 14 feet in height. Its history can be traced for
356 LE eOLUMlJl lOK, T()UTE\'AL.
about six centuries. It stands on the fief Janin Bernard
which we learn from an old document of 1463 Avas originally
a part (with the fiefs of liobert de Vic, John du Gaillard,
Thomas Blondel, Cantereine, and Guillot Justice) of the
fief of " Sir Henry Le Canally Chevalier," one of the
most important in the island in the 13th century, its lands
extending over a considerable portion of the parishes of
Torteval, St. Peter's-in-the-Wood and St. Saviour's. This
fief derived its name from a very ancient family Avho
held it in the 13th century and probably earlier. In the
Norman Rolls of the 2nd John, in the year 1200, a William
Le Canelly pays the king 60 livres Angevin, that a suit
he had against Matilda de Langetot and her son Henry,
concerning lands at " Sumeresville," in Guernsey, might
be tried before the " Curia Regis."
A few years later, in 1227, we find the king ordering the Warden of the Isles,
William de St. John, to give Henry Le Canelly possession of
the lands in Guernsey formerly belonging to his father,
William Le Canelly, lately deceased. He was probably the
same man as Sir Henry Le Canelly, one of the Jurats at the
assizes held in Guernsey in 1254, who, according to the above
mentioned document of 1463, seems to have been the last of
his name to hold the entire manor.
He was succeeded by two
heiresses, probably his daughters, the elder of whom married
Thomas de Vic, and the younger named Guillemotte, Drouet
de St. Martin, Seigneur of Trinity, Jersey, who held the
manor in 1274. In 1309 their heirs, namely Avice de Vic, and
Henry de St. Martin and his brothers, the sons of Drouet,
were summoned at the assizes to show by what right they
claimed certain aids from their tenants in the parishes of St.
Peter's-in-the-Wood, Torteval and St. Saviour's, also the right
of court, and of chase, which belonged to the king. They
replied that the inheritance of Le Canelly was divided between
Avice and Henry, and that their ancestors had enjoyed these
privileges from time immemorial. Previous to 1320, the date
of the next assizes, the de St. Martin's portion of the manor
had passed by some family arrangement to Symon de St.
Martin, Henry's younger brother, who was called upon to
answer to a very similar inquiry to that above mentioned. It
is necessary to trace the pedigree of this family thus far as it
gives the clue to the following entry in the accounts of John
des Roches, Warden of the Isles, from 1328 to 1330, which is
the first evidence of the existence of our dove-cote.
" ii*arochia de Torteval "
" Item et tient Symon de Seynt Martin un coulumbier levey."