Château de Beaumesnil

Beaumesnil, France

Château de Beaumesnil was designed and built by John Gallard during the reign of Louis XIII between 1633 and 1640. It is constructed of stone and brick walls with a slate roof on the ruins of the motte-and-bailey castle that had stood on the site since medieval times. The east and west facades are richly decorated with carvings. The north and south pavilions were added to the building during the 18th cenbury. The donjon (keep) that was built on a mound to the south of the site was converted into an icehouse. The mound is now covered with a boxwood maze. The château and forecourt were built on the bailey with the forecourt. A footbrige provides access to the château from the east and a vehicular bridge provides access to the forecourt and château from the west. Another footbridge connects the forecourt with the motte.

The eastern side of the château overlooks a parterre laid to lawn with woodland on either side. In the 18th century, wings were added to both the northern and southern ends of the château. The 'state' rooms - the library, the drawing room, the dining room, the mistress' apartment are on the first floor and are accessed using the grand staircase.

The château, which is nicknamed 'Norman Versailles', is located in a 60 heactare estate landscaped by La Quintinie, a student of André Le Nôtre, though little is left of la Quintinie's original gardens. Much of the estate to the east of the château is wooded with a parterre laid to lawn, almost a kilometre in length, providing an impressive perpectives from the château's state rooms. The parterre is broken by a large pond, approximately one hectare in area, that has many features of a formal pond such as regular edging with specific geometric shapes.

Two formal flower beds were laid out in the 18th century to the east of the château, the smaller Jardin des quatre saisons (Four Seasons garden) on the northern side of the forecourt and the larger semi-circular Jardins demi-lune (Halfmoon garden) on the northern bank of the moat. As part of a conservation plan, a kitchen garden with over 500 varieties of ancient vegetables, including unusual varieties like devil's ear lettuce and rainbow corn has been cultivated.

The château's library and 16th century bookbinding museum were built up by the German-Jewish financier Hans Fürstenberg (1890 - 1982) who had fled Nazi Germany in 1937. He bought the château in 1938 and moved is collection of 16,000 books there, many of which dated from the 17th or 18th century. As the invasion of France drew near, valuable archives of the Bibliothèque nationale, the private archives of the King of the Belgians, the archives of Rouen and the Archives de France were moved to the château's library for safekeeping. Part of the collection was sent to Vichy France for safekeeping and the rest confiscated by the Nazi invaders. Fürstenberg's own collection ended up at the Schloss Tanzenberg in Kärnten, Austria. During the war, part of Fürstenberg's collection was lost, but the rest was returned to the château. After the war Fürstenberg rebuilt his collection, but in his later years sold parts of it to various institutes. Shortly after Fürstenberg's death, the library was further depleted when a number of items were sold to fund the Fondation Fürstenberg-Beaumesnil.

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Details

Founded: 1633-1640
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Jean Reinard (13 months ago)
Super. A great place.
Ilona Sokolowska (15 months ago)
EXCEPTIONAL! A true hidden gem! Unique and genuine castel that really takes us back in time. The tour is done on your own in tranquility. The rooms are filled with interesting objects and there’s lost of fun, interactive games for the kids! An open farm where you can enter and see and touch all the animals :) Real treat! Definitely worth visiting!
Trevor Hammond (15 months ago)
Lovely place to go and visit, the staff speak excellent English and offer English information folders. The gardens, maze and house are all seperate prices but not too expensive. An afternoon or evening would be enough for this one.
Richard Trip (16 months ago)
Very nice Castle with lots of antique furniture and books. Ticket price is ok for all the things you can see and do.
Armand Bernard (16 months ago)
Fantastic Chateau with a large garden, fudge creation demonstration and 3 floors to explore! During our visit (Thursday afternoon) it was fairly quiet.
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