Vendeuvre was built between 1750 and 1752 from the plans of architect Jacques-François Blondel and is a great example of a country house (maison de campagne) of the 18th century. Its owner, Alexandre Le Forestier, coming from a Cotentin family that claimed descent from the Counts of Flanders, wanted a modern summer retreat built in the style of the day. The old manor-house was demolished, as it was damp (it was closer to the Dives river-banks than the present building) and built partially into the hillside slope.
During the French Revolution, Alexander of Vendeuvre and his family lived at Rouen, their house at Caen having been burned down. As the family didn’t emigrate during the Revolution, the chateau was saved from destruction, thus preserving the original décor and most of the furnishings.
The château is famous for its 18th century interiors. Blondel paid particular attention to the highly sophisticated interior circulation and decoration. After the château was damaged during the Second World War, the present Count of Vendeuvre, a direct descendant of Alexander of Vendeuvre, set about the complete internal and exterior renovation of the chateau. The slate roof was re-laid in 1945. Following the completion of the interior renovation, the park’s restoration followed in 1970, using the original 1813 plans as a basis for the garden’s classic French style. In 1983 the Orangery was restored to its former state, having also been badly damaged as a result of action during the war.
In the presentation of the château, each room presents a theme of 18th century daily life. Automatons (mannekins with recordings) point out the salient features of each room, for example the dining room demonstrates the art of receiving and entertaining guests and the Grand Salon shows the pleasures of indoor games.
The chateau’s plan shows that it is twice as wide as it is deep, with a suite of state rooms distributed around a central hall supported by Ionic columns. The layout of the suites (each leads to the next) and the rounding of all the corners, help to spread the natural light throughout each room. The quality of the wood panelling in the main room is remarkable. The furniture is a comprehensive list of 18th century craftsmanship.
The formal gardens that have been created by the present Count of Vendeuvre, have a strictly symmetrical classical lay-out of closely clipped scrolling designs set against gravel reserves, and borders and box hedges set in lawns, with a formal water beyond, flanked by pollarded lime trees (lindens), against a background of mature woodlands. Beyond the sloping fields of the valley of the river Dives, the hills of the Pays d'Auge can be seen in the far distance.
Restored according to plans, of 1813, these French geometric gardens perfectly complement the equally symmetrical garden front of the château.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.