The Château de Bénouville was designed in 1769 by architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux and built in 1770-74 and 1776-80 at the request of Hyppolite-François Sanguin, marquis of Livry (1715–1789) and his marquise Thérèse Bonne Gillain de Bénouville, heiress of the property. Bénouville is one of the best preserved works of Ledoux, making it a major monument of neoclassical architecture at the end of the eighteenth century. Its monumental staircase and exterior architecture were very modern for the time.
The interior was under construction from 1778 to 1780 under the direction of Jean-François-Étienne Gilet, the architect of Caen. In 1792, it was purchased from the widowed marquise by a fermier général (tax collector) who was killed in guillotine in 1794. His daughter inherited the property which remained in that family until 1927. It then became the property of the general council of Calvados which turned it into a maternity hospital (singer Gérard Lenorman was born there). In 1980, it was rehabilitated and restored, opening its doors to the public in 1990.
The château is located on the west side of the Canal de Caen a la Mer, just southwest of the Pegasus Bridge, made memorable on D-Day, 1944. During the World War II the château/maternity hospital was run since 1935 by Madame Lea Vion, director who also led a resistance group. The maternity hospital became a hearth of resistance for the region: fugitive allied pilots and French youngsters unwilling to work for the Germans found a safe haven here. Weapons and a maquis-wireless transmitter were hidden here.
On D-Day morning soldier Wally Parr, a sharpshooter from the Ox and Bucks, fired some grenades from a German anti tank-gun towards and over the château, because he erroneously thought German snipers to be present upon the roof of the building, until Major Howard made him stop this activity. Howard told Parr there were women in labour inside the chateau. At this very same moment, however, German Lieutenant Hans Hoeller was standing on top of the château together with a sergeant and soldier in order to observe the canal bridge. Earlier Hans Hoeller had frustratingly found that his anti-tank troop could not pass through Bénouville, because of too heavy resistance from British parachutists belonging to A Company, 7th Para Battalion under command of Nigel Taylor. He sought a suitable place to set up his batteries. Madame Vion had tried in vain to stop Lt. Hoeller from entering the 'chateau'. Hoeller and his colleagues were subsequently forced by Wally Parr's grenades to retreat downstairs immediately before opening their own fire on the Ox and Bucks defending the canal bridge nearby.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.