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:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.