on the edge of a village renowned for its quality of life in the Green Périgord area
This part of the French department of Dordogne, in the midst of a Regional Nature Park, is renowned for its unspoilt flora and fauna, where farming, grazing and market gardening have been harmoniously developed in the countryside. This did not escape the attention of Buddhist monks who settled near to the “Maison du Parc” (literally Park House) nor the Montessori School which takes pride of place in the village. The quality of the way of life, the choice of organic farming and ecology made it possible to check depopulation. Equidistant from Limoges and Périgueux, its population is even increasing. The nearby town of La-Coquille has an SNCF train station and all amenities.
A vaulted porch way between the two pavilions constituting the actual house communicates with a vast, inner, paved courtyard, partially enclosed by the ruins of high walls which once formed a closed group of four square pavilions connected by wings. Numerous features are still visible amongst the ruins such as fireplaces on the various floors, alcoves and passageways through the thick masonry. The castle chapel still has its four walls, a stone stairway and two doors, outstandingly flanked by limestone lining the shale stone wall. They are adorned with sculpted pilasters, a pediment, a pietà in an alcove and two hammered cherubs.
A tower named after Saint-James flanked the wing on the left-hand side of the main door. It was destroyed by fire in the 17th century. The property was protected by masonry, water-filled moats as well as a fortified perimeter wall, flanked by five round towers, one of which is still in existence.
The main door was reached via two drawbridges; gaps visible in the facade still reveal the site of the mechanism for the carriage and pedestrian gates.
In the courtyard, near to a well that provides water all year round, is a hole which, according to tradition, led to underground rooms where treasure could still be found.
This castle, constructed from local shale stone, is composed of two tall, square pavilions, the flat tile, hip roof of which is laid on a wall-walk and machicolation. Four weather vanes, one of which features fleur-de-lis with a Marquis’ crown, top the ends of the ridge. Eight chimneys join to form a single stack above the north pavilion. The windows are framed with granite and those on the first floor are topped with a shale relieving arch.
The construction of the central wing, set back in relation to the pavilions, made it possible to create numerous firing stations in the corners of each level in order to protect the drawbridge and the main doors. These are now adorned with white limestone rusticated masonry moulding representing pilasters topped with cornices, pediments and finials.
The north pavilion is entered via a large lounge, with walnut wood parquet flooring, laid in a ladder pattern with strips of varying widths. A ceiling featuring exposed joists looks down on to a medieval monumental fireplace which can be sealed. The walls are rendered and comprise built-in, Louis XIV style furniture and cupboards, one of which conceals the door to the kitchen. The latter is fitted with a closed-hearth fire, a lava stone work surface which is impervious to hot and cold alike as well as terracotta floor tiles. An adjoining extension houses a storeroom, a linen room and a toilet. A lobby, in use as a cloakroom, leads to the inner courtyard.
In the central wing, between the large lounge and the carriage gate, is a small lounge, with panelling, in the old Saint-James' tower. The area on the other side of the porch way houses an old stairway, made of stone and then wood, which leads to the entire south pavilion, apart from the vaulted cellars and the dungeon which have their own entrance via the courtyard.
This level can be reached from the large lounge, either via a wooden stairway or via an original, little, spiral, stone stairway, concealed in the masonry, which goes up to the attic space. In the north pavilion and the central wing, the floors feature old parquet flooring, laid in a ladder pattern. A corridor leads to two bedrooms, the view from which stretches over the parklands, and a shower room, with a toilet and a view over the neighbouring lake, prior to reaching a shower room, with a toilet, via a mezzanine passageway above the kitchen, in the extension.
Saint-James' tower houses a through library, with a granite fireplace and exposed ceiling joists. A few steps lead to a large, through bedroom above the porch way. It has a view taking in the ruins and the parklands that will ever appeal to residents. A studded door at the end opens on to the main stairway and, on the other side of the landing, a large room undergoing restoration with a ceiling featuring masonry filler, a rebuilt granite fireplace, shale stone walls, firing stations with relieving arches in the north corner as well as four windows laid out on the south, east and west sides. Its dimensions are those of the south pavilion and therefore have great conversion potential.
The little spiral stairway goes up to an anteroom, with a fireplace and a French ceiling, which leads to a shower room, with a toilet, and a bedroom, with a dressing room, followed by a bathroom with a shower and toilet. Saint-James’ tower comprises another bedroom, featuring a cross-shaped roofing framework. Contrary to the first floor, there is no passageway between this room and the south pavilion. The main stairway must, therefore, be used to reach the room awaiting conversion, laid out above the porch way as well as a large room similar to that on the floor below, also undergoing restauration.
The historic attic space is laid out above the north pavilion and the central wing. Insulated and very clean, it is also extremely bright and could easily be converted as the trusses of the roofing framework are laid on a wall at a good height. It provides access to a wall-walk on machicolation, covered by the eaves and dotted with miscellaneous defence holes. The reinforced roofing framework is above several levels that can be accessed via a ladder system. The Saint Andrew’s cross has been stabilised, the battens and the projecting roofs are recent, the tiles having been changed as and when necessary. In the north pavilion, only the joists of a future attic exist under a new roofing framework.
Although on the outskirts of the village, this property appears to be completely isolated once inside the gates. The many architectural features on the facade and the outstanding romantic ruins, surrounding the paved courtyard, captivate visitors, caught up in the great history of France, between defence and splendour, between daydreaming and reality. It would be ideal for numerous projects: breathing new life back into the ruins, the moats and the outbuildings, exploring the passageways and the underground rooms enhanced with fireplaces below the courtyard or, simply, converting the south pavilion in order to increase the accommodation capacity. The house, comparable to that of a large family home, would lend itself to a bed & breakfast activity. The additional purchase of an adjoining plot of land would mean that the original entrance could be restored.
|Land registry surface area||12215 m2|
|Main building surface area||450 m2|
|Number of bedrooms||4|
Jonathan Barbot +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.