The de Carteret family, of Normandy stock, have been around in Jersey for nearly 1,000 years. For most of that time they have owned St Ouen’s Manor in the north-west of the Island.
In 1467 the Seigneur, Sir Philippe de Carteret was peacefully fishing in St Ouen’s Pond, then part of the manorial land. It was during the years of the little-known French Occupation. French soldiers crept up on Sir Philippe, whereupon he mounted his horse and rode for his life.
It is over a mile, and up a steep escarpment, from the pond to the Manor. His horse tiring, Sir Philippe reached the deep, narrow valley named Les Charrières, just south of the Manor. He would only escape the French if the horse could leap across the chasm. He urged the horse on and just made the other side. The French could not follow and Sir Philippe was safe.
But, exhausted by its efforts the horse dropped dead at the entrance to the Manor. Sir Philippe ordered that a portrait be made of the horse and that it be buried in the Manor grounds.
In 1904, bones were unearthed at the Manor. They were sent to the British Museum who concluded that they belonged to a horse which had died over 400 years previously.
Today, if you are lucky enough to gain admittance to the Great Hall, you can see both the portrait and a bone of the hero horse.