We have been incredibly humbled to be asked by many of our social media followers and subscribers about how people can support our château restoration project, which is why we have set up this page on behalf of Château de Bourneau.
We are Erin (@theintrepidchatelaine ) and Jean-Baptiste, an Anglo-Franco couple in our early 30s with a love and respect for old buildings and French heritage, many of which are sadly left to crumble. We believe that it is important to protect historical buildings and raise awareness of their cultural value and importance to ensure their future.
In 2018, we fell in love with Château de Bourneau and took a leap of faith, leaving behind our old lives in the UK and put everything we have into looking after this beautiful historic building. Our dream is to sensitively restore the Château de Bourneau and bring it back to its former glory for future generations to continue to appreciate and enjoy.
We do everything ourselves as a team of 2 and although we work long hours looking after all the maintenance and restoration of this 16 hectare Estate, it brings us a lot of pleasure to see the château coming back to life, little by little, towards our goal of being a hub for our local community, and sharing this journey and our mission via our social media (@theintrepidchatelaine and @chateaudebourneau )
The scale of the renovation is immense and in order to look after the château, its estate and to fund the restoration, we entirely rely on hosting weddings, events and holiday stays in our 4 holiday cottages. However, it’s true to say that during this challenging COVID time we, like many other small businesses, have lost a huge amount of income to inject directly into our planned restoration. Of note is currently the most crucial of our restoration projects - stabilising and fixing our precarious chimneys that are at significant risk.
Any donation, however small, will go directly towards the château restoration and will help us continue to safe-guard this magnificent French château.
History of Château de Bourneau:
There has been a château recorded on this site since 1464, when Jacquette de la Ramée, Dame de Bourneau, received royal permission from King Louis XI to build a fortified château at Bourneau. The château was abandoned during the French Revolution and fell into ruin. All that remains of this medieval château are the four turrets and walls that delimit the the moat, one hidden turret on the château island and the vaulted foundations that the current Château de Bourneau is built on. The beautiful château you see today was built in 1863 by celebrated architect Arsène Charier (1[téléphone supprimé]), financed by local gentleman Edmond Möller, who inherited the land at Bourneau through his mother’s family and built this château with his wife, Claire de Fontaines. Arsène Charier was heavily inspired by Royal châteaux of the Loire Valley, notably Azay-le-Rideau and hence why Château de Bourneau is a unique homage to the French Premier Renaissance and a rare architectural feat for this region of Vendée. The ground floor interiors are in the style of Napoleon III and showcase a breadth of 19th century features from locally made tiles, traditional boiserie, and both “Bâton Rompu” and “Versailles” parquet flooring. However, after the château left the original family in the 1950s, much of the original period detail in the upper floors were sadly removed (which we hope to restore and return) when it was transformed into the Foundation Marechal de Lattre de Tassigny military institute to welcome Algerian men and women who fought for France and had lost everything. In 1967, the out buildings (old stables, granges and boulangerie) were completely transformed to expand the Foundation’s activity in welcoming refugees from wars in South East Asia, notably Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, with the aim to repatriate these people into French Society. The Foundation closed in 1997 and in June 1998, the château was bought back into the original family. They began the enormous task of structurally renovating the château. In 2018, it was time for them to pass the baton to the next generation and so the château was sold to us and we continue to follow their lead to look after, restore and protect this building for the next generations to come.
Our priority projects:
~Our Emergency Chimney Project:
The Château de Bourneau has 5 grand chimney stacks that are in a critical state, presenting a significant safety risk to visitors and the château.
It was suggested to us that the most cost-effective way to “deal” with the issue was to remove the chimneys entirely, since they no longer function, which goes against our ethos of protecting the architectural vision and lines of this beautiful building. We accept that to save them will cost a significant amount more but we believe in their added architectural value and our mission to preserve all original features of the château. The first phase will be to structurally make the chimneys safe again and to re-point them.
This first phase will cost an estimated 20,000€.
~The Château Roof:
Many of the “Lucarnes” or dormer windows require replacement zinc flashing as they leak into the rooms below. On-going water ingress is destroying stone-work and impacting on the interiors, which prevents us being able to restore these rooms.
The Great Dome also requires replacement zinc, notably around the bell tower, as this damaged section is resulting in significant leaks that are compromising the structural wooden beams and the rotunda below.
Estimated cost: 10,000€
~The Medieval Moat Walls:
The original Château de Bourneau was built in 1464 and the moat walls originate from this era. They have suffered a lot of damage over the last 550 years and sections are in desperate need of being rebuilt or stabilising, notably 4 specific areas. Last winter, we sadly lost another section into the moat, which needs to be rebuilt as a priority to prevent a further landslide and damage to the remaining walls.
Estimated cost: 8000€
~The Ruined Orangery
Once used to grow exotic fruit, such as oranges, and flowers for the château, this beautiful red-brick 19th century folly was sadly ravaged by a devastating fire around 30 years ago that destroyed the roof and the 3 magnificent arched windows. A temporary roof has been installed to protect the remaining walls from weather damage but we still would like to restore this building back to its former glory by sensitively replacing the windows and adding back an appropriate roof. We hope that bringing this building back to life will open up opportunities to use this building for our local community projects to help re-dynamise our village.
Estimated cost for the large, bespoke windows: 22000€
Estimated cost for the roof: 30000€
~The Red Salon Parquet Floor
The Red Salon in the West Wing has an unusual, beautifully made Versailles oak and ebony-inlaid parquet floor, which is particularly unusual for this region and is held together by the 19th century structural “tongue-in-groove” technique. Due to rising damp concerns over the last few decades, many of the tongue segments have been destroyed and so the entire floor of 70 sqm is now structurally unsound and at risk of falling into the vault of the medieval foundations beneath.
Estimated cost to save the Parquet floor: 20000€
ANY donation, however small, will go directly towards the château restoration and will help us continue to safe-guard this magnificent French château for years to come. If you do wish to donate, do leave us your name so we can write your name somewhere inside the château to thank you for being part of the Château de Bourneau’s story.
For anyone who donates 100€ or more, as an extra gesture of thanks, I would be delighted to add you to my private instagram “friends and family” list for exclusive story-content, tours and to update you on the château progress. Do please leave your instagram handle/name with your donation if you would like to be added to this list.
If you would like to follow us “behind the scenes” at the Château de Bourneau and see some of the restoration so far, you can follow us on instagram @theintrepidchatelaine and @chateaudebourneau
Thank you for being a friend of Château de Bourneau and helping us secure its future.
Erin & Jean-Baptiste
- Margaret Hewitson
- Sally Allbrook
- Margaret Holden
- Imogen Richards
- Gene Kerns
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