Beautiful renovated propertyin Condom
A Part of Gascon History
In 1011 Hugues de Gascogne gifted an abbey to the town of Condom with the intention of ensuring the prosperity and security of the Benedictine monks whom he had recently settled there. Situated on the St Jacques de Compostelle pilgrim’s route the abbey grew rapidly prosperous.
Protective fortifications grew up around its walls and in the 12th century a fortified château named the “fort de la Crauste” was built adjoining the abbey. A tower, built in the previous century, was attached to the fort. Dominating the river Baïse the château enabled the surveillance of anyone going up and down the river. However, the fortress was rapidly abandoned by its occupants who found it to be lacking in comfort and thus the Château La Crauste quickly fell into ruin.
The tower resisted the test of time and in the 18th century a rich family from Condom built a wealthy bourgeois home around the tower. The building was built to buttress the ramparts and faced the river. Beneath its floor a vast wine cellar clearly indicates the social status of the family who resided there and who built their wealth trading Armagnac.
Time passed, and the building fell into ruin once more. In 1971 a young couple bought the ruin and over the following twenty years undertook the entire restauration of the building.
We arrive at the property to meet that young lady 47 years later, on a roasting hot summer’s day and catch our first glimpse of the tower at the end of an alleyway, beyond a private car park. The garden is in full bloom, the flower beds generously watered with water pumped from the old well. Waiting by the entrance to the tower, standing beneath the branches of a sweet-smelling wisteria, the owner of the property welcomes us warmly, and shares with us the history of the building.
The owner’s word
“When my husband and I first visited the property in 1971 we realised the folly of purchasing such a derelict and impressive sized building. But it was love at first sight. I had been given the key by the agent who didn’t want to accompany me, she was so certain I would not buy it. Some rooms were barely accessible. But the tower and the stone staircase were so magnificent there was no question of walking away without purchasing it.”
On the ground floor, to the left of the tower there is a separate outdoor space, perfect for anyone looking for an office space close to home: doctor, architect, etc. This separate building (once used as a doctor’s surgery) comprises four rooms, an entrance hall and a cloakroom. To the right of the tower, a 54m2 room harbors the boiler, laundry room, and the summer kitchen.
Entering the main property, we climb the steps of the tower, worn smooth with the tread of footsteps over the centuries, and come to the first-floor landing, where an old grandfather clock marks our entrance to the principle appartment suite of 157m2.
At first glance, it is easy to see that this space has been carefully preserved with the grace of days gone by. A large hallway, with a period parquet perfectly polished, cuts through the building to a terrace and offers a splendid view of the river Baïse and the valley beyond. There is a large reception room to the right, equipped with an ancient chimney in carved wood, and in perfect working order. Two large picture windows bathe the room with light. At the end of the salon, an opening in the thick stone wall of the tower, invites us through into the kitchen and dining room. A decorative French ceiling dominates this impressive 51m2 room, now a kitchen, but which was once a guard’s room in the middle ages.
The central hallway leads to two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a third bedroom smaller in size, and currently used as the family study.
We continue our ascent, on the shining stone steps to the top of the tower and the last floor, where, when the Armagnac flowed generously all the way from the Baïse river all the way to America, the household staff resided. Here, the internal walls have been removed to create a vast 100m2 loft appartment, with an open plan reception room, kitchen, and dining room, with a separate bedroom and a shower room. Beyond here, lies a door to the attic, which serves as a makeshift dressing room and second bedroom, and which might be developed more fully over time.
Our visit ends as we descend to the old wine cellars which is an impressive 103m2. This space has been fitted with shelving which provides amply storage space for just about anything you can think of! Two cars, and a vast array of other items, offer plenty of space for amateur hoarders! Outside a private carpark allows guests to park three further cars.
Here at Bliss
Here at Bliss we particularly loved the light in the upstairs first floor rooms and the wonderful tower with its old stone corkscrew staircase. We also appreciated the many possibilities this property offers; as a guest house, a spacious family home, a home with a private outdoor office. The upstairs loft is perfect for separate rental, or for a teenager seeking privacy, as is the old medical surgery in the garden. We love the privacy of the gardens, in such a central location, as coming out of the gates we are only a minute from the town centre.
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