A 12th century church and its rustic house for an inspired artist,
an anteroom to heaven in the Perche-Gouët region
Droué, LOIR-ET-CHER center-val-de-loire 41270 FR

Location

To the north of the centre of France, where the regions of Perche-Gouët and Haut-Vendômois meet, 25 minutes from Châteaudun train station, with its direct links to Austerlitz, 30 minutes from Vendôme TGV train station and 2 hours from the centre of Paris, Boisseleau, as its name indicates, is a wooded, well-watered area. In fact, the river Egvonne is not far away. A clear little stream flows on the other side of the lane. The hamlet, on the outskirts of the picturesque village of Droué, has always had a farming population courtesy of the fields stretching out in front of it.
Just a few kilometres away, the large Fréteval forest is an invitation to contemplate and take endless walks along forest paths. Nearby is a curious feature dubbed the “Pierre Cochée”. This listed, wide, flat stone is France’s biggest polissoir, used since Neolithic times through to the Iron Age for sharpening weapons and tools. The site also includes other large megalithic stones bearing witness to a spiritual tradition several thousands of years old in this particular spot.
Just as the Celts reappropriated the clearly visible, sacred megalithic sites in this hamlet, the Benedictine religious community settled in the old places used for worship by the Druids.
Food shops, medical services and local amenities are just a 10-minute walk along a little pastoral lane.

Description

A lane, on the outskirts of the village bordered by a few old, revamped houses, goes up to the old gateway opening into the garden of Notre-Dame-de-Boisseleau church. On the right-hand side a large, squared stone cross, furrowed by bad weather and gilded by the sun, stands facing plum and fig trees that abound with fruit every summer. The cross indicates the sacralisation of the area explored by visitors.
The Romanesque style, religious edifice, transformed into an art studio in the 1970’s, is the main building on this property. Featuring a basilic layout with a semi-circular apse, it spans approx. 250 m², covered with a local tile roof. The entire edifice is in a good overall state of repair.
An 18th century house, standing in the midst of flower-filled, wooded grounds, makes it possible to live next to this eminently inspiring place.

The church

Notre-Dame-de-Boisseleau church, together with its Benedictine priory, originally belonged to the abbesses from Saint-Avit abbey, near to Châteaudun. These well-educated ladies corresponded notably with the famous Hildegarde-von-Bingen. Formerly attached to the Rule of Saint Benedict, the hermitage is steeped in aesthetics.
Just after the Viking and Hungarian devastations that ruined France, piety was expressed in these difficult times through the budding Romanesque architecture. Despite the poor living conditions, Western Europe was enthusiastically adorning itself with religious monuments. The monk Raoul-Glabert wrote the following in a column dated around 1048: “It could be said that the world was shaking off its rags so as to be clothed in a white robe of churches”.
The team of constructors could probably not refer to a plan or the ideas brought from Italy by the Lombardy masons who moved around in accordance with the aristocratic and ecclesiastical networks appreciative of the new Romanesque models. And yet, the church reflects all the characteristics of the budding and immaculate Romanesque architecture in a region that is not in one of the great creative centres.
The edifice is part of the first Romanesque era. It features a robust roofing framework, has a series of semi-circular vaults and a wooden barrel vault ceiling over the nave, thus creating an effect of immensity on its stone floor tiles, laid in a chessboard pattern. The apse, with its oven-shaped vault, is illuminated by three windows with plain embrasures. The western doorway quite naturally provides entrance.
Three archaic archivolts, formed from square blocks of soft limestone from the Loire, top the western doorway still lacking a tympanum. It is flanked by squat pillars: columns were to appear later. The facade is united: the only decor is ordered by the entrance arch moulding topped with a large oculus, flanked by two windows. The statuary is still absent. The austerity which could, in principle, through the economy of vocabulary, impregnate the construction, gives way to the adjusted stone which shows through the rendering, to the modesty of the size of the openings, to the angular character of the protruding arch moulding, being superposed with angular thickness on squared quarry stone block jambs. The buttresses protruding from the facade wall on either side of the left-hand doorway, are embryonic.
On the east side, the unique apse is illuminated by plain arched windows. The conical roof is lower on this side until the first third of the gothic window of the later section.


Ground floor
A great transformation took place through the development of the north side, like an extension of the transept, probably around 1537, year found on the abacus of 2 capitals near to the choir and near to the side door. The addition comprises three bays able to accommodate three small chapels. Their high exterior triangular features on three gable walls, in a style surprisingly outdated for the Renaissance era, support scrolled acroteria eroded by storms, gargoyles, still appearing ferocious for the time, and three tall mullioned windows. The latter, geminated with crossbars and triangular arches, were once filled with stained glass which damaged by time, has been replaced with glass panes.
First floor
At the end of the 16th century, the church lost its position as parish church which was passed to the chapel of the Seigneur-de-Bourguérin in the village of Droué. The edifice was deconsecrated in 1908. It was then bought, restored and reused for worship in 1912 by Droué’s lord of the manor, who installed a marble plaque saying that his mother, with the maiden name of Masséna, was daughter of the Prince of Essling, Duke of Rivoli. It was at this time that the building regained its Romanesque appearance by losing the partition wall forming the altarpiece in the choir. Nowadays, the walls still reflect traces of revolutionary times which saw the building become a store for the gunpowder used for firearms. The religious artifacts were returned to the diocese when the edifice was deconsecrated the last time it was purchased in 1972. Since then, a mezzanine spanning approx. 60 m² conceals, at the end of the building on two levels above the nave, storage areas for the works of art and a workshop for a stringed-instrument maker.
Outbuilding
The house, spanning approx. 90 m², was a priory outbuilding, probably constructed in the 18th century. It was fully converted by the father of the current owner at the time of purchase. Each level spans approx. 45 m², the kitchen taking up an additional surface area.
A modest side entrance makes it possible for residents to hang their coats next to a guest toilet prior to entering via a door concealed in the panelled wall of the living room. The latter is laid out in an L-shape around a fireplace housing a closed-hearth fire. Spanning approx. 40 m², it is illuminated via two large, double-glazed windows, installed at the end of the last century. Both windows look out over a little terrace, bordered with bamboo fencing and topped with an arbour, covered with a black grape vine, beyond which extends the vegetable garden by the church apse. The room gives access at the end to a bright, functional kitchen, adjoining a wooden veranda that houses the woodstore and the garden well. Robust, irregular ceiling beams bear witness to the age of the premises. Vast cupboards line the end wall.
A concealed, modern wooden stairway goes upstairs where an L-shaped landing, spanning approx. 6 m², features a corner laid out as a child’s bedroom. Next to it, the adult bedrooms open off the landing and span surface areas of approx. 15 m². The toilet is separate and the bright, 5 m² bathroom is illuminated via a window above the bath.
The heating for the house is efficiently and economically run by a closed-hearth fire housed in the living room fireplace. It requires eight cubic metres of wood per year to heat the whole house to a temperature of 21 to 23°C courtesy of columns hewn in the wall and covered with ceramic tiles.

Garden
Spanning approx. 1,800 m², this garden harmoniously surrounds the church and the house, delimiting living areas: the entrance near the church, a large level area in front of the house, the vegetable garden in the background and a home for numerous birds, with a little terrace shaded by an arbour covered with a black grape vine. The church and the house flank the garden in an L-shape. Flowers abound: roses, peonies, dahlias, daffodils, tulips, hydrangeas, primroses, cornflowers as well as two lilac bushes and an old lavender bush, all glorifying the fertility of the land protected by the church. Two wisterias, one of which has white flowers at the kitchen entrance, enhance the veranda and attach their heavy petals to the walls. Numerous fruit trees comprise a rich orchard with cherry, walnut, peach, pear, apple and plum trees as well as a wooded area with a dog rose, a quince, a medlar and a strawberry tree, with two sweet chestnut and two hazelnut trees, not to mention poplar, Scotch pine, a maple and large central oak tree planted near to a buddleia or butterfly bush and many white and red raspberry canes that provide fruit until November. A garden shed stands in the vegetable garden out of sight of onlookers by the church apse.

Our opinion

Time has gone by in Boisseleau and yet it appears to have stopped. The thousand years known as the Middle-Ages have instilled a spiritual atmosphere steeped in humanity within these walls. The lane that leads to the old gateway to the church already exudes an initiatory air. There is something hesitant and moving within these robust walls of impressive, irregularly-laid stone, metaphors of the ways of life of the generations of inhabitants that have succeeded one another here. These premises are intended for deep, peaceful residents, in search of the world’s beauty.
Filtered daylight, in the north end of the church, favoured the owner’s creativity up until the spring of 2022. His art studio, installed with long tables between curtains in the medieval fashion, was protected from the cold by heat from a wood-burning stove. An undefinable and particularly tranquil poetry is exuded from the unpredictable shade bordering the fences and the lanes.

Exclusive sale

440 000 €
Fees at the Vendor’s expense


See the fee rates

Reference 130686

Land registry surface area 2180 m2
Main building surface area 250 m2
Number of bedrooms 2
Outbuilding surface area 90 m2
including refurbished area90 m2

French Energy Performance Diagnosis

Consultant


Sixtine de Naurois +33 1 42 84 80 85

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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.

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