Accessed from a private road, La Maison de la Falaise (The House on the Cliff) is picture-perfect from the front, yet barely hints at what lies beyond. Golden Somerset Hamstone and Norfolk reed thatch suggest an ultra-traditional rural idyll. But moving through the house and then looking back from its sea-view decks reveals the true scope of the project.
Curving around the cliff itself, the rear elevation is a sweeping masterpiece of glass, Hamstone and larch. From one level, three frameless glass pods project from the stonework, hanging over the cliff. At the upper floor level, another glass pod emerges from the larch cladding under the curved reed thatch. The views are magnificent.
“As soon as we saw the location, we knew it was something special,” says James Messenger, owner and creator. “We’ve lived in the Channel Islands for 30 years, in various properties, and this is the culmination of everything we’ve learned as developers.
“It took five years to complete, including landscaping, and a lot of time working with the architect to make sure we did justice to this extraordinary site. We didn’t want to put a big, grey box in front of one of the best views on the island. We wanted it to be warm and welcoming.” Mission accomplished.
Despite its proud position, the house feels sheltered, almost emerging from the ground. “We excavated soil and bedrock to embed the home in its surroundings,” says Messenger. “Now, it’s completely protected from the prevailing wind, so it’s like being in the Mediterranean.”
Thanks to the curved plan, the interior volume expands to almost 12,000 sq ft of beautifully detailed living space. The main staircase is a three-storey thin concrete ribbon, walnut doors are detailed with pewter and glass inserts, and rooms feature bespoke, intimate finishes.
Outside, a boardwalk curves round to the independent guesthouse, and, from there, steps lead down to a cliff path with a private gate. The garden’s main feature is a spectacular cascade, with stone terraces and pools of water encircling the house. Bridges and pathways lead through a kitchen garden and over terraces, to the summerhouse and wildflower meadow, offering fantastic views of the islands. Everything is irrigated from a computer-controlled borehole.
“We built this house to be magical, and that’s exactly what it is,” says Messenger. “But having family on the other side of the world has convinced us to relocate after many happy years.
“Standing here, you can see the islands of Herm and Sark, and in between them the coast of France. I’ve stood here so many times, and I really will miss it. In the evenings, you can light the fire in the drawing room, turn out all the lights and watch the moon dance on the water.”