Château de la Motte

Joué-du-Plain, France

The history of Château de la Motte began as a Viking motte and bailey fortress and evolved into the 18th and 19th century Château seen today. The two most noted families who owned the site were the Gabriel Montgommerys and the Nicolas Angos, but its role as Resistance center in World War II may be its most notable episode.

Long established Norman châteaux, like Château de la Motte, usually originate from a motte and bailey castle constructed during the earliest Norman period in the 10th and 11th centuries. The bourgeois Ango family built much of Château de la Motte in the late 16 and early 1700s. They bought the original château from one of the most noted names in Normandy: the descendants of Gabriel de Montgomery I (Montgommery). In 1559, Montgomery had accidentally killed King Henry II of France in a joust.

Château de la Motte sits at the end of a long chestnut tree alley or avenue linking to the commune of Joué-du-Plain and the village of Écouché. The château's former farm, with an arched entry and coat-of-arms may have been the original château built in the 1660s. Today's château and a number of buildings have dates from the early 1820s, after restorations from the Deschamps family following the French Revolution.

In the Second World War, the château operated as a dairy and holiday home for Paris prostitutes. However, at the same time it functioned as headquarters for the Resistance. Escaping Allied pilots and an important arms depot were hidden here. The discovery of the depot by the Germans caused the assassination of the local mayor, and an unresolved crime, the subject of two criminal investigations and one book.

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Founded: c. 1700
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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