with outbuildings and more than 8 ha, in a region known as Mayenne-Angevine
In the south of the French department of Mayenne, amidst undulating, bocage countryside, with its small irregular-shaped fields separated by hedges and ditches, near to a village and less than 10 minutes from a small town with all main shops and amenities. The town of Château-Gontier is less than 30 km away. The town of Laval, with TGV train links to Paris (ten or so daily return journeys, some taking a little over an hour), is about 30 minutes away by car as are slip roads on to the A81 motorway.
The stronghold house
Dating from the 14th and 15th centuries, this house blends the military character of its origins with Renaissance architecture, still steeped in the gothic style such as it spread throughout the province of Maine in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. A fortified abode, it is topped with a slate, gable roof and spans four levels, one of which is under the rafters. A vaulted passageway, topped with a trilobed, freestone alcove, goes through the ground floor from south to north. The house is flanked on its south-east corner by a tall watch-turret, with a candlesnuffer roof and, on the north-west corner by a square turret (the latrine tower), forming a very narrow pavilion. One of the loopholes on the north facade is shaped like an arrow-gun port. The south facade is adorned with a pentagonal tower, built outside of the carcass, which houses a stairway providing access to the three floors of rooms. Each of the main north and south facades feature a bay with mullioned windows vertically aligned below a pediment roof dormer. The stronghold house and its moat, now filled in, have French Historic Monument listing. This stronghold house has just undergone extremely meticulous restoration works mobilising all traditional know-how and respecting all of its original features, notably including the floors, with their recuperated or traditionally made tiles, conforming to the size and style of the era; the monumental fireplaces, with reconstitution of the frescoes and their decorative motives; the carved, oak wood doors, in keeping with the 16th century models that remain, with a pattern of notches along the jambs and of ladders on the crosspieces; the mullioned windows, the roof dormers and the loopholes, glazed with diagonal leaded lights; the vestiges of window stone decoration; the half-timbered partition walls, filled with cob and the numerous window seats.
The entrance hall provides access to a kitchen and opens on to a hall area leading to the tower, with its spiral, stone stairway composed of treads supported by a central newel and set in the walls, and to a dining room. The entrance hall and the kitchen are in the vaulted passageway going through the house. Adjoining the dining room and reached via a few steps is a lounge. The dining room also provides access to a hall area leading to a toilet. The entrance hall has a white stone floor, whilst the kitchen, dining room and lounge have terracotta floor tiles. The ceilings in the entrance hall and the kitchen are vaulted, those in the dining room and lounge feature exposed beams. A freestone fireplace and old “potager” (a secondary hearth where soups and other previously prepared dishes were cooked on embers) are to be found in the dining room where the coats-of-arms of the families that occupied these premises for the last 700 years have been reproduced. The kitchen, the dining room and the lounge all open on to the garden. In the entrance hall, access to the hall area was defended by a murder-hole.
The landing provides access to a bedroom, with its shower room, and a study. The latter gives access to a toilet and a bedroom, with its bathroom. This level has terracotta floor tiles throughout. Exposed ceiling beams in the first bedroom and the study. Exposed roofing framework in the second bedroom. A freestone fireplace in the first bedroom and in the study.
The landing leads to two bedrooms, one of which has its own shower room. Both bedrooms open directly on to a corridor providing access to a toilet. This level has terracotta floor tiles throughout. Exposed ceiling beams in both bedrooms, whilst only one has a monumental freestone fireplace.
This landing provides access to two bedrooms, one of which has its own shower room. Both bedrooms open directly on to a corridor providing access to a toilet. This level has terracotta floor tiles throughout. Panelled ceilings in both bedrooms, whilst only one has a freestone fireplace with moulded jambs.
Right next to the stronghold house stands a chapel that was most certainly constructed in the 16th century. This chapel has French Historic Monument listing. Transformed into a cowshed with a loft in contemporary times, it currently awaits restoration. It could have been used by protestant lords up until 1685, year of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. However, the presence of an alcove for housing a statue above the altar indicates that the edifice was designed for the Catholic faith.
The chapel is followed by a first outbuilding, resembling a traditional, long farmhouse, which is used for barn and storage purposes. Another outbuilding, on the south-east side of the courtyard, is also used for storage purposes.
The garden is composed of large lawns, bordered by hedges of shrubs on the south side and a meadow, planted with copses, on the west side. On the north side, a garden regularly set out with four squares of lawn, edged with pathways, leads to a lake. A river delimits the garden on the north and west sides.
These soberly elegant premises are marked by history, including that of the One Hundred Years’ War and that of the Wars of Religion. History, in which the families that lived here for more than seven hundred years were heavily involved. History, written in the stone and that the exceptional restoration works carried out over recent years have perfectly respected and, consequently, history that is still alive today. Furthermore, a happy compromise has been found, combining both the historic authenticity of the architecture and its techniques and the modern way of living. The house is extremely comfortable and meets all current day requirements. Less than two hours from Paris, surrounded by superb countryside, residents are projected into another time, another world.
|Land registry surface area||8 ha 31 a 46 ca|
|Number of bedrooms||6|
|Main building surface area||320 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||140 m2|
Sylvain James +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.