Château de la Madeleine was originally built in 1129 by St. Adjutor (the patron saint of the river sailors, who died in 1131) and it was dedicated to Mary Magdalene. There is only one wall left to the west of the property. In 1407 a monk named Jean le Vigneron probably built a new castle and priory to the same site. The priory called 'priory of La Madeleine' remained church property until 1789, when it was confiscated. The property was purchased by an officer of the Empire, General de Bremont, married to a Pomeranian princess.
Casimir de la Vigne, a great 19th century century poet and playwright, then becomes the owner of the house. In 1849, the wealthy Baron Thenard, inventor of hydrogen peroxide, purchased the property, but died three years later, without having had time to start the renovations. His widow and daughter, having traveled throughout Europe, launched out into considerable works to give the castle its present appearance, combining baroque and rococo elements.
The Thénard family retained ownership until the early twentieth century. In 1924, the furnishings of the Castle were put up for auction and the castle was sold to M. Gianotti, architect of the Maginot Line. The latter added his personal touch to the Madeleine by building the far right wing of the castle, rightfully called 'the bunker', and his wife obtained the listing of the park with its 120 rare essences.
During World War II, the property was used as a school, a summer camp, but also as a resting place for the German Kriegsmarine. In 1945, when the Allied troops crossed the Seine at Vernon, the castle park was the scene of heavy fighting, in which seven Englishmen were killed.
After the war, the property was bought up by M. Lebrejal who restored the chapel. In 1960, the Lebrejals resold it to the Drouot firm who wanted to make a nursing home and a housing development in the woods. But as the site is classified, this housing estate project was banned, and la Madeleine was left in neglect.
In 1980 the Clermont couple fell in love with the place and acquired it. On her death in 1989, Claude-Marie was buried in the park and her husband Jean-Pierre continued the adventure. In March 2000, the castle became the property of his sons Paul Stephane and Olivier who have been restoring it since then.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.