he actual date of construction of the Château de Guernon-Ranville is not known. However, taking into account the architectural style of the château and notably the harmony of its façade, the château was built in the 18th century. Its name comes from the family who acquired the fief of Ranville in 1751 and who then added Ranville to their patronymic name, the result of which is Guernon-Ranville . The origin of this family, which is one of the oldest to be found among Norman nobility, derives from the Rollon (considered to be the first Duke of Normandy in the 8th century) and Robert de Guernon (companion of William the Conqueror the 11th century).
In 1818, Count Martial de Guernon-Ranville inherited the property of Ranville. Martial began a career in the magistracy which led him to become Minister secretary of the State for the department of Ecclesiastic Affairs and Public Instruction from 1829-1830.
During his retirement, Martial reunited the two principal wings of the château, adding to one of the said wings an imposing gallery. This modern addition rendered independent rooms until then opening one upon the other, a system of circulation through houses and other buildings still prevalent in the 18th century. The Count arranged for moldings and parquet flooring in different fine woods in the left wing which was reserved for the master of the house, family and guests.
Located in the right wing of the château was found those rooms necessary to house servants, kitchens and stables mews. One room served for the storage of fruits on large flat wooden shelves, built on an incline. In the kitchen area was a vast chimney as well as a larder for the preservation of perishable food items. The cavities located in the uppermost part of this wing were most certainly a pigeonry.
The outbuildings of the château consist of a barn for grain storage, a cellar, a workshop for the blacksmith as well as a wine press and a farmyard.
In this same era, there was a walled road which led from the château to the private crypt of the Guernons which is found alongside the church of Ranville in the center of the village. In this enclosure, which belongs nowadays to the village, one can see sculpted family vaults of the Count and his wife.
During the Second World War, the château was requisitioned by the German Army in order to house members of the Organisation Todt. During the night of the 5th to the 6th of June 1944, three officers who were part of this organization, apparently asleep in their rooms, were made prisoners by the allied troops. The château and its outbuildings were immediately transformed into a field hospital. This medical intervention unit, composed of ten officers and somewhere around 100 men was under the 5th brigade of the 6th Airborne Division. It was operated under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Harvey who had amongst others, already formed a medical outpost at the Café Gondrée located next to the Pegasus Bridge.
On the roof of the château, a large cloth was spread, bearing the emblem of the Red Cross to indicate the presence of medical services. This effort, however, stopped neither mortar fire nor enemy bombing, the result damaging most notably a part of the outbuildings serving as a canteen to the unit.
Today Chateau de Guernon-Ranville is a guesthouse.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.