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:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.