This residence, surrounded by approx. 7 ha of land with miscellaneous characteristics, has some superb views over an attractive valley, a little river and the neighbouring hills. The valley is the source of numerous springs, some of which are paved, vestiges of the Gallo-Roman period. A fish-filled river flows alongside the property. The house dominates the valley to the north of the village, some 600 m away on the other bank, from the top of its wonderful terrace with its well adjoining its old retaining wall. Standing on a site originally selected for its defensive assets, this property comprises living space on the south side, outbuildings on the north side and a dovecote on the north-east side. A little, nuisance-free country lane on a lower level, leading to a very limited number of families, provides access to a short path which crosses a terrace to the house. Set on the end of a plateau, the building is supported by a medieval retaining wall. Carriage gates on the east side form the entrance to the property, opening into a central courtyard with the house on the south side. A square, 17th century dovecote guards the entrance. A 20 m long barn, on the north side, closes the courtyard. The property is extended on the west side by a hill spanning 4 hectares of farmland which are bordered to the south by a strange little wood, predominantly composed of box trees, some of which are several hundreds of years old. This property also comprises several hectares that extend down into the valley as well as a plot on a steep hill where nature has run rife such that roe deer and squirrels have long been its only visitors.
The date of the initial construction is unknown, but is around the late 15th century. At this time, the property was protected by a tower on the west side, completing its defensive position on the rocky spur. At the time of the French Revolution, the south facade was rebuilt in the 18th century style and then supported by two large triangular buttresses, topped with hip roofs. They were apparently constructed using the stone from the ruins of the medieval tower. The design was carefully studied as they are invisible from the inside of the house.
At the top of a few steps on the south side is a superb door, flanked by pilasters and topped with a flat-moulded cornice dated 1791. Visitors enter via the flagstoned vestibule-corridor where brick and half-timbered partition walls are painted with trompe-l'oeil stone. The house still has numerous period doors, often made of walnut wood, with their original frames. On the left of the entrance hall is the first lounge. Its north wall comprises a built-in, 18th century dresser, typical of the Poitou region, with decor featuring green wallpaper. The Louis XVI style fireplace has been restored and is regularly used. The strip pattern parquet flooring is made of oak wood, the suspended ceiling is made of wide planks of poplar wood and superb curtains hang on wrought iron rails. Two doors on either side of the fireplace open into the lounge-library were the decoration dates from another era. A 15th century monumental fireplace, also renovated, takes up a large section of the west wall. The Charente stone tiles go with the wide strips of wood that form the ceiling as well as the book shelves, made of poplar wood. A stone “potager” (a secondary hearth where soups and other previously prepared dishes are cooked on embers) is a few steps higher on a landing, a room with a little window receiving the last rays of sun which reflect on the vault above, possible a vestige from the 13th century. A guest toilet is concealed between the bookshelves. This precedes a utility room, also vaulted, in use as a linen room, a pantry and a storage area. On the right-hand side of the entrance hall is the dining room, similar in size to the lounge. It is decorated with wainscoting on all four walls. The ceiling features a large central exposed beam and joists. The strip pattern parquet flooring is made of chestnut wood. The glazed door on the north side leads to a kitchen, practical courtesy of its clever layout despite its modest size. The east-facing windows let in copious amounts of the early morning light. It contrasts with the other sections because of its modernity but old features have been preserved and incorporated into the decor: terracotta floor tiles, a stone sink, paving stones in front of the door, etc. Next to this, on a half landing is a Douglas pinewood panelled larder. This landing, with its old flagstones, is an extension of the central corridor and includes several cupboards. It provides access to the courtyard on the north side, the kitchen on the east side and the stairway on the west side.
Stone stairways go up to the bedrooms. The atmosphere on the first floor is authentic courtesy of the abundance of old, preserved or reinstalled features. The landing is illuminated via a window with a stone transom and stained glass. In the bedrooms and corridors, poplar wood partition walls and cupboards and studded, wide strip, oak wood flooring accompany doors with glazed fanlights, alcoves and fireplaces. A small bedroom opening on to the landing has a shower room with a toilet and a separate toilet. The second, bigger bedroom in the south-east corner of the house comprises similar fixtures and fittings as well as a fireplace. A 15th century transomed window, discovered during renovation works and restored, receives the morning sunshine through its stained glass. There is a superb view out through two windows. The owners have set up a study in a small, old, child’s bedroom next to this bedroom. With its little alcove for the bed, it could be turned back into a bedroom without any works. The third bedroom, in the middle of the house, is without doubt the most beautiful. Reached via a cupboard-lined corridor, it includes a wonderful fireplace. The pinned oak wood parquet flooring adds a sophisticated touch. The alcove for the bed, an innovation in the 18th century means that the bedrooms were said to be “recessed”, said area forming a space to install a bed sideways. A 15th century door, on the west side, opens into an attractive study, a storage room and a shower room with a toilet. The shower room, with its wooden partition walls and flooring, features a modern, practical touch. It can also be reached via a few steps from another bedroom on the second floor.
This level is taken up by a single bedroom, laid out on the west side. In addition to a superb view over the hillside, it includes several steps leading down to a shower room on the floor below.
The stairway continues up to the attic which spans 130 m², that is most of the floor surface area of the house. It is divided into two sections and, on the far west side, comprises two maid’s bedrooms. These could become a wonderful study connected, if so required, to a room on the first floor via a spiral stairway. The entire floor surface area of the attic and the maid’s bedrooms is clean and insulated with ecological Pavatex panels, covered with sheets of OSB (oriented strand board). This area can be easily accessed.
The central courtyard, spanning almost 200 m², communicates with the house on the south side and with the miscellaneous outbuildings on the west and north sides. The outbuildings are not in a poor state of repair but they are in need of restoration. Opposite the house is a lovely, old, vaulted, stone cellar. An awning, open on to the courtyard on the west side, makes a wonderful covered outdoor eating area in the summer. An adjoining 40 m² room could be converted into guest lodgings. Electric wiring and plumbing are already installed. Passing by the woodshed, a few steps on the north side provide access to the barn. Closed by doors at each end, it is used for storing a tractor and tools. And lastly, the dovecote, standing on the north-east side of the courtyard, appears to watch over all the other buildings. This quadrangular-shaped building adjoins the other buildings. Its walls house 1,344 dove-holes intended for carrier pigeons, which indicates that the master of the estate once owned as many acres of farmland and could provide fertiliser for near on 650 hectares!
The plots of land alongside the little river are naturally damp and have, therefore, been planted with poplar trees which are now a pleasure to behold. In contrast, the land on the hillside is composed of limestone, gravel deposits and pebbles, mixed with sand and clay, a mixture that drains easily. Before the appearance of phylloxera, this land was planted with Bon-Bois (Cognac) appellation vines. Said four hectares were analysed and found to be perfectly suited to the growing of truffles. Three years ago, the owners planted a hectare of land with some 250 small pubescent oak trees, an excellent species for truffle beds which likes dry regions. These trees are now well established and 10% of them are more than 2 metres in height. The first harvest is expected in 4 years’ time. The easy upkeep consists of keeping the grass cut and summer pruning in season. It would be more than possible to expand this activity over the other plots especially as the river is just a hundred metres away: a watering system could be installed in order to greatly increase production. And lastly, an orchard comprising thirty or so trees stands near to the buildings. It is planted with peach, pear, cherry, plum, fig and kaki trees.
This little sleepy residence, much neglected over a long period of time, has been enthusiastically revamped by its current owners. Its meticulous renovation works have reinforced the authenticity of this building, robustly standing on its plateau, looking down on the valley. Although small in size, this property exudes great potential for conversion which would not demand endless funds. Now comfortable, its decoration is plain but elegant and it is worthy of note that new owners can move in straightaway without having to carry out any works. The plots of land surrounding it provide an opportunity to profitably start a farming project even if it is only for the fun of it. There is no urgency but the conversion of a guest house would be a worthwhile project, as would the restoration of the dovecote, thus completing these monumental works in a masterly fashion.