In Upper Normandy, in the French department of Eure, 70 km from Paris, 22 km from Andelys and Giverny. On the Normandy Vexin region’s slightly undulating plains, on the edge of a plateau dominating the Epte Valley and controlling a crossing point between Ile-de-France and the Duchy of Normandy where the vestiges of an old Roman road, locally known as the "Chaussée Jules César" (Jules Caesar’s road), are to be found.
The first in a series of fortified castles built on feudal mottes by William II of England along the border of the Epte.
The imposing remains of the keep and of a portion of its facing act as a backdrop to a farm, the magnificent entrance gates of which are none other than the former entrance to the castle. In the centre of the courtyard, a large circular dovecote. The layout of the building is the classic one of a fortified motte with its perimeter wall dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The main tower, placed astride the outside perimeter wall, defends the weakest portion of the fortifications. A secondary perimeter wall protects the main courtyard, the intermediary space between the outer bailey and the main tower. The outer bailey actually comprises recent buildings used for farming purposes, a house and a dovecote. It is closed by the outside perimeter wall and can be accessed via two gates in the tower.
The main courtyard, now cleared, can be accessed via the outer bailey or from the top of the motte. Only the northern half of the main tower, a major element of the castle, is still standing, the other portion having been destroyed in 1647. 18 m tall, this round tower has a diameter of 11.5 metres. It is essentially built of limestone and flint quarry blocks. The tower gates in the outer bailey, which break the line of the outside perimeter wall, are built to the same design. U-shaped like those of Gisors, they open into the outer bailey via a triangular arched passageway. They were defended either by a device combining a murder hole and door leafs or by a portcullis and a murder hole. The outside perimeter wall, oval in shape, crowns the top of the scarp of the moat. It encloses an outer bailey of approx. 1 ha, in which are several buildings. To the north, farm buildings break the curtain wall, which can only be seen for 7 metres.
Beyond, the dry moat makes access to the outer bailey difficult. The annexes are farm buildings and two houses in ruins located along the northern, outside perimeter wall, dating back to the 17th or 18th century. In the centre of the outer bailey is a recently restored dovecote, the origins of which could date back to the 15th and even the 13th century. The main courtyard is located in the southern portion of the outer bailey, at the foot of the motte. Protected by a tower door separating it from the outer bailey, it is surrounded by a trapezoidal perimeter wall and is currently free of any constructions. An early 20th century dwelling, facing the outer bailey, backs on to the northern curtain wall. The south tower, the final defence before the main tower, has a square U-shaped layout and spans 3 floors. Two openings for a construction in two portions: the first triangular and the second basket handle. They would have been closed by door leafs. They were probably connected to the top of the motte via a covered passageway.
The main dwelling
Recently constructed but requiring full restoration works, it is possible to live there on a temporary basis.
The dining room has a fireplace with a closed hearth fire. Another room awaiting conversion that could become a lounge also has a fireplace.
4 bedrooms including 2 with fireplaces and shelves. A bathroom awaits restoration, a toilet and a small room.
Running the full floor surface area of the ground floor. A vaulted cellar takes up half of the area.
These constitute 1 dovecote, 4 outbuildings, a former dwelling that awaits full restoration and a main, original tower spanning a diameter of 11.5 m and a height of 18 m.
With a floor surface area of 200 m²
With a floor surface area of 430 m²
A former 18th century dwelling with a monumental fireplace awaiting full restoration.
Although the work of William the Red, son of William the Conqueror, has not left historians with a moving souvenir, the ruins of what was one of his first castles are nevertheless a reminder of an unforgettable presence. In terms of restoration, enlightened enthusiasts will find more than enough to assuage their passion especially as the proximity to Paris and the possibility of renovating the most recent house relatively quickly will enable them to live on site. Grants and tax deductions linked to the historic monument classification should make it possible to revive these admirable walls, stood in a magnificent, peaceful setting.
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.