In 2013 the Society leased the derelict pressoir at Le Manoir. It is probably the oldest building in Sark. We discovered its many historical uses and restored it from ruin. It is now our Archaeology Room, housing a growing collection of pre-historic pottery, and hosting events. It was built as a house by Sark’s first Seigneur Helier De Carteret in the 1560s, on the site of older church buildings and cemetery, where graves have been dated to the 12th century. Around 1620 Helier’s grandson adapted it for cider making, installing a press and a horse-drawn crusher, when it became fashionable in Jersey to move your apple mill indoors. The fireplace was adapted for use as a forge. The building then served as an armoury and arsenal till Napoleonic times, before being restored for cider making, with a compact iron crusher replacing the bulky granite trough. Other Victorian alterations included a hay loft and a hatch in the east gable for bringing in hay. Until the 1980s there were stalls for half-a-dozen cows. The beautiful original cobbled floor was only discovered by removing over 30cm of cow manure, broken slate and oyster shells. Our rebuilding included a mezzanine for storing archaeological finds. At the west end we reopened the upper chimney and installed a log-burning stove, which is regularly lit for evenings round the fire with songs, mulled cider and knitting - a revival of the old Sark tradition of veillies. The Barn is also used for exhibitions, meeting, weaving workshops and Christmas craft markets.
A sketch of Le Manoir made by Guernsey Greffier Joshua Gosselin in 1785 shows the barn thatched. The Militiamen are guarding Sark’s Arsenal.