an Anglo-Norman villa, with self-sufficient heating, keeping watch over an astonishing flourmill
Paris is 260 km away via the A13 motorway and can be reached in 2 hours via Caen train station, 22 km away. Bayeux, 11 km away, has sixth form colleges, large shops and all useful infrastructures. Local shops can be found in a village 3 km away.
A little road in an unspoilt village goes down amidst chateaux, priories and character residences towards the river. A no-through road, it leads to the industrial part of the village, with its workers cottages. The Anglo-Norman villa looks down from the heights over the river and the greenbelt meadows.
Set at right angles to the villa, the building houses a Francis turbine, a Ruston & Hornsby engine and, on four levels, the machinery. Following on, the buildings house silos and warehouses. At right angles, a large transit room is laid out above rooms used for workshop and garage purposes. A self-contained dwelling, a stable and garages, as well as very wide, wrought iron gates, enclose the courtyard. The outbuildings, spanning a surface area of almost 600 m², are predominantly composed of large rooms.
The Anglo-Norman villa
This villa has two aspects: industrial on the courtyard side and refined on the garden side.
The facade facing the courtyard and featuring openings is uniform. The first level is composed of rooms used in the operating of the flourmill. A spiral, iron stairway, in a corner of the courtyard, provides access to the ground floor of the house.
The garden facade is obviously more cheerful. The half-timbering, exposed on the first level and painted blue, is supported on a rendered quarry stone block wall. The ground floor openings feature basket-handle arches. A terrace, extending alongside a bow-window, the entrance door and a French window, is reached via stone steps. Three of the five openings on the second level are French windows, preceded by wooden balconies. The three-sloped roof, covered with flat tiles, features shed dormers and three hanging dormers, topped with gable roofs, also covered with tiles.
The restoration of the villa, conducted by a former student of the Boulle School, was carried out in accordance with good trade practices. All the original features have been preserved, including the radiators and their sculpted decoration.
The four rooms on this level can only be reached via the courtyard and were originally used in the operating of the flourmill. An office, illuminated by a wide, horizontal opening remains frozen in time. The decoration, with its cement floor tiles and decorative wall tiles, is unchanged. The safes, including a mural, are still present as well as the shelving supporting the flourmill’s archives.
It is followed by a room, fitted with a means of heating and mains water.
The boiler and the electricity circuit for the Francis turbine are in an adjoining room.
The last room is used as a workshop.
Steps lead up from the garden to a terrace. Double French windows open into a hall, with its wooden stairway. Straight on, a door gives access to a little private room. Two doors in the hall open into two lounges. Walls are lined with wainscoting and floors are covered with herringbone pattern parquet flooring. Mouldings decorate the ceilings. One wall in the main lounge is decorated with a stone fireplace, featuring a brick hearth. It is widely illuminated via a bow window on the garden side and two large windows overlooking the courtyard. A pantry separates this lounge from the kitchen, paved with contemporary floor tiles. Big enough to take a large, central table, it is illuminated via two large windows and two French windows providing access, on the one hand, to a spiral, iron stairway going down to the courtyard and, on the other hand, to the garden. A matching room opposite the pantry is used as storage space.
The stairway goes up to a landing, illuminated via two large windows. This landing provides access to two bedrooms and their fully fitted bathroom, on the one hand, and a corridor leading to a third bedroom, on the other. Strip pattern parquet flooring is laid throughout this level and ceilings are decorated with moulding. Each bedroom is notably illuminated via double French windows which open on to a wooden balcony looking down on to the garden.
Although this level has slightly sloping ceilings, it is laid out in a similar manner to the first floor. Floors are covered with strip pattern parquet flooring. The landing leads, on one side, to a bedroom illuminated via a window and a double French window which opens on to a small wooden balcony. On the other side, the corridor leads to two bedrooms, with dormers looking out over the garden, a bathroom and a separate toilet. The corridor is illuminated via dormers looking out over the courtyard.
The millrace runs alongside this rectangular-shaped garden which looks widely out over the neighbouring grasslands. Two large yew trees take pride of place in the middle of the lawns. It is planted with fruit trees and flowering shrubs. A little wooden bridge crosses the millrace, providing access to the bank on the other side.
The Francis turbine
Installed in 1929 by the Société-Hydromécanique-de-Toulouse (the Toulouse hydro-mechanics company), this 60 hp turbine has been restored to good working order. Operated by hydraulic power, it guarantees production of 12 kWh and gives the Anglo-Norman villa self-sufficiency in terms of heating.
The Ruston & Hornsby engine
10 iron-clad tonnes, with 100 horsepower ready to be let loose, this engine is the heart of the flourmill. It waits patiently, giving a false impression of being at ease, in its tiled setting, illuminated via light passing through a glazed, semi-circular, atrium window which looks down on to the millrace.
This engine, manufactured in England, was installed in 1936. It ran until the flourmill was shut down in 1975.
Restored, greased and pampered, it was restarted in 2016.
The origin of this mill dates back to the times of William the Conqueror. Purchased by a family of millers at the beginning of the 19th century, buildings were added and modern equipment installed. In the 20th century, the Francis turbine was installed, just before the powerful Ruston engine.
Automatism then took pride of place. Over four levels, drive belts went through walls and floors, made steps tremble and drove the machines. Grain was cleaned, separated and moistened. Grinders, converters and sizing rolls came into play. The flour passed from screws to elevators and from chutes to bins. Sieved, put in sacks and weighed, its journey came to a halt in the large storage rooms.
This 750 m long millrace, hewn by hand and lined with stone, extends on either side of the flourmill. Upstream, the work of diverting the water is controlled via an automatic sluicegate opening and closing system, operated from a smartphone. The headrace reaches a hydraulic rake, a descent chute and sluicegates as well as a fishway (notably river trout). This is where the Francis turbine works its magic. The millrace is continued via a tailrace and an outlet arm.
The industrial section of the flourmill is extended on the ground floor by an old, 3-roomed dwelling (spanning a surface area of approx. 60 m²), with a fireplace, flagstones as well as terracotta floor tiles and openings overlooking the millrace and the courtyard.
The buildings opposite the Anglo-Norman villa are composed of garages and workshops, spanning a surface area of approx. 240 m² on the ground floor. They feature wide industrial style windows and carriage doors opening on to a carpark outside the flourmill.
The second level is bordered by a balcony corridor, reached via a wooden stairway. It provides access to a large room, spanning a floor surface area of approx. 112 m², with a 7 m high ridge as well as two adjoining rooms, spanning a floor surface area of approx. 72 m², which are laid out in the building set at right angles, closing the courtyard.
A large 84 m² garage as well as three other rooms used for garage and workshop purposes (approx. 35 m²) take up the ground floor of this last building.
These premises are steeped in magic whether it be that of words, mechanisms, the maze of machinery or the authenticity of the house. Not forgetting that of its rooms, intertwining with one another and overlooking the millrace, the courtyard, the garden and the countryside, whether they are tiny, huge, concealed or exposed. It would be easy to imagine an elf carefully introducing a few grains of wheat on one side, before darting through a maze of obstacles and extending a hand to catch a dusting of flour.
And then there is the villa, exuding a serenity which comes not only from the elegance of the successful restoration works but also the meticulous attention paid to the smallest of details.
Listed as part of Calvados’ industrial heritage, this flourmill deserves to have its restoration works continued. And the last but not least of its assets, the Anglo-Norman villa’s self-sufficiency as regards electricity bestows this property with unique environmental value.
|Land registry surface area||4040 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||6|
|Main building surface area||300 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||600 m2|
Brune Boivieux +33 1 42 84 80 85
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.