XVIth century castle in Peyrecave
950 000 €
PROPERTY REF: BLISS-169
Agency Fees included (4.5%) FEES PAYABLE BY VENDOR.
Two tall gates and a stone wall mark the entrance. The inner courtyard, the surrounding parkland of four hectares, and the driveway ensure a sense of privacy, though the village is only a stone’s throw away. The Château and village are linked by the invisible thread of centuries of shared history.
Through the gates the front courtyard is laid to gravel where a grand old magnolia grande flora laden with waxy leaves sits in a central position. Plane trees promise welcome shade for the warm summer months.
The Château sits opposite the guardian’s cottage (once a wine cellar) and faces its stables, and atelier.
The entrance is flanked by giant topiary bushes, carefully clipped. One of which, we will later discover, has been cleverly shaped to form a life-sized elephant bringing a note of humour to the garden so reflective of the warm and welcoming personality of the owner.
The Château is crowned by the branches of a magnificent cedar which soar high above its rooftops, scratching the pale-blue spring skies with dark emerald shoots.
The façade of the Château is hewn from the stone so familiar to the North of the Gers, and catches the light at all times, so that it appears golden and light even on the dullest of days.
There are traces along the walls of medieval windows, decorative stone cuttings (one of which is said to have come from the Cathedral of Condom), ancient stone sinks, and the traditional triple “genoise”, a line of decorative stone trimming that runs below the line of the roof and was symbolic of the properties wealth. (The more layers of stone, the wealthier the family).
The doorway is an elegant arch, trimmed with cut stone; an old metal bell hanging above the door on a long chain, signaling our arrival.
As Madame La Chatelaine opens the main door we are greeted by the architectural magic of the property, as our line of vision follows the long Gascon central hallway to the arch of the rear-door; a perfect mirror-image of the first, open onto the gardens beyond.
Sunshine floods the hallway; bisected at its midpoint by an internal hallway that runs the width of the property.
The sunny aspect is heightened by the warm buttercup tones of the walls. The ceilings are high and elegant, allowing for the display of large portraits in oil.
From the front door we turn into the kitchen. A large square room, with tall windows to the front courtyard, it is graced by a grand stone fireplace on which a huge tree-trunk (“fallen in the last storms”) crackles on the grate. Decorated in two shades of green, a large oak table is laid for lunch. (“The table will be a gift to the future owner! An incredibly talented craftsman carved it from the old wine vats that were stored in the old chai. The table is as much a part of the property as the trees or walls! The kitchen cupboards were crafted from the same wood.”)
The kitchen is simple in style, its timelessness reinforced by the stone fireplace (its mantelpiece reaching head height), its ancient wood units and simple porcelain sink.
Across from the kitchen there is a pleasant library-room with a feature ceramic wood-burning stove. The library opens directly onto a large drawing-room, which is also accessible from the rear internal hallway.
The bedrooms, many with en-suite bathrooms, are accessed along the two internal hallways. All are spacious, with tall picture-windows or French doors to the gardens. 3 bedrooms have private “ensuite” bathrooms.
To the rear of the property, and adjacent to it, there is a beautiful stone building or orangerie which is used as a large summer reception room. The current owner tells me that the room was a great favourite of the celebrated British author and politician Roy Jenkins, who came out to the house in the summer to write, and particularly enjoyed working in this lovely sunny room.
The rear gardens are raised on high, and walled, overlooking the full expanse of the parkland below with its line of trees and sweeping lawns down to the river.
At a discreet distance from the property and out of view, there is a swimming pool.
This incredibly warm and welcoming home has none of the austerity one might expect of a French Château. It is reminiscent of a large country manor house, a spacious family home and a place for children to grow up in.
The current owners have been in possession of the Château for over thirty years and it is very much a part of their lives now.
“When we first saw the property, “the owner tells us, “it was covered in brambles. The front courtyard was impassable. Yet my husband and I stood there and fell instantly in love. We knew it would be a life’s work to restore it, but the building left us with no choice. We were smitten. It will be a great wrench to sell, after so many years, but it is vital to our family that we can pass the Château on into good hands, to someone who will love it as much as we have. We have placed a little of our souls under every stone. We were present when local stone masons joyously uncovered ancient window frames that we brought back to life. We have repaired every inch of roof and wall and cleared the parkland so that it can be enjoyed as was intended by those by planted it. We will leave a great part of ourselves behind when we sell, but we hope a new generation will love it as much as we have.”
With its roots in medieval French history, the château dominates the small village of Peyrecave to the West of Lectoure and in the canton of Miradoux.
The name of the town is formed from the words Petra meaning stone and “curva” meaning valley.
As is the case with many feudal castles the château is a built on a dominant position overlooking the small valley through which the river Arratz weaves.
This position the Château occupied ensured that for over several hundred years, the castle was fought over as a key look-out post.
Battles were fought between 1208 and 1229 when the village and its Château were burnt to the ground in the Crusades of Albigeois.
During the Hundred Year War (1337 to 1453) the Black Prince descended upon the region and as the Château was part of the riches of Toulouse, who did not recognize his sovereignty the castle was once again greatly damaged.
The Brétigny truce signed in 1360 enabled the English to consolidate their positions, and to acquire as their own: La Guyenne, L’Armagnac, and the Languedoc. During this period the Château was restored, and another one built ten kilometres away in Flamarens.
English taxes were, however, very steep and caused much unrest. Jean l took up the cause, and appealed to King Charles V, considered at that time to be the supreme overlord. After some hesitation the King decided to back the cause and strengthened by his support, the people of the South West were gradually able to chase the English from the South West.
In 1413 the Count of Armagnac who had remained a loyal supporter of the Dauphin Charles Vll and found himself confronted in battle with bands of highway men, mercenaries and looters working for the Duke of Bourgogne, Charles le Téméraire- Charles the Bold.
If Peyrecave had just about managed to survive the Hundred Year war, it struggled this time to survive, leaving only a few vestiges of the original feudal Château. The outbuildings and the chapel were burnt and the bridge over the Arratz dismantled.
The banks of the castle had been turned into one large cemetery.
Bones and armor were discovered during the plantation of the park in 1869.
The Château as it is known today was rebuilt in the XVl century.
In the XVll century there were some perturbations during the French wars of Religion between the Catholics and the Protestants, although the village was not directly affected, though the neighboring village of Miradoux was held under siege.
The period of the French Revolution when it came, was a period of relative calm for the village.
Throughout the XlX century peace and prosperity reigned in the village, though the population continued to decline in the coming century.
Oil central heating
WHAT WE THINK
Miradoux: 7 km
Toulouse airport: 70 km
Agen Train station: 36 km
PROPERTY REF: BLISS-169
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Tel : 05 62 28 59 32
Mobile: 06 16 85 86 13
Opening Hours of our Lectoure Office
Tuesday to Friday: 9.00 am – 1.00 pm
and 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm
By appointment only on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Viewings by prior appointment only.
Reg. Office: 54 Rue Nationale,
License No. CPI 3201 2017 000 018 266
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All Rights Reserved.
Whilst every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information and dimensions listed, any information given, is only an approximation and no responsibility is taken for any error, omission or misrepresentation. These details are for guidance only. No guarantee is given on the surface area of the property here quoted as this has not been measured in accordance with La Loi Carrez. All details should be verified prior to purchase with both a legally qualified surveyor and French registered notaire.