Chateau de Guernon-Ranville

Ranville, France

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:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 18th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

Rating

4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Gerard Camps (11 months ago)
Marie-Christine de HARO (11 months ago)
Mary Therese Pakhi Burns (2 years ago)
An amazingly beautiful place, full of history and a wonderfully peaceful place to be in the gardens. I left a piece of my heart here and I would be very happy to return a thousand times. Wonderfully kept, "bravissimi" to all who have done an excellent job in upkeep.
Nicolas Theillaud (2 years ago)
Exceptionnel et chaleureux... un havre de paix dans un domaine enchanteur !
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Steinvikholm Castle

Steinvikholm Castle is an island fortress built between 1525 to 1532 by Norway's last Catholic archbishop, Olav Engelbrektsson. Steinvikholm castle became the most powerful fortification by the time it was built, and it is the largest construction raised in the Norwegian Middle Ages.

The castle occupies about half of the land on the rocky island. The absence of a spring meant that fresh water had to be brought from the mainland. A wooden bridge served as the only way to the island other than boat. Although the castle design was common across Europe in 1525, its medieval design was becoming obsolete because of the improved siege firepower offered by gunpowder and cannons.

The castle was constructed after Olav Engelbrektsson returned from a meeting with the Pope in Rome, presumably in anticipation of impending military-religious conflict. As Archbishop Engelbrektsson's resistance to the encroachment of Danish rule escalated, first with Frederick I of Denmark and his successor Christian III of Denmark, Steinvikholm Castle and Nidarholm Abbey became the Catholic Church's military strongholds in Norway. In April 1537, the Danish-Norwegian Reformation succeeded in driving the archbishop from the castle into exile in Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), where he died on 7 February 1538. At the castle the archbishop left behind St. Olav's shrine and other treasures from Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim). The original coffin containing St. Olav's body remained at Steinvikholm until it was returned to Nidaros Cathedral in 1564. Since 1568 St. Olav's grave in Nidaros has been unknown.

From the 17th to 19th century, the island was used as a quarry and some of its masonry was sold and removed from the site. This activity was condoned by the Danish-Norwegian authorities as a way of eliminating a monument to the opposition of the Danish–Norwegian Union.

Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The island has been the site of the midnight opera which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.