Built in 1590 on the remains of the old fortified castle destroyed during the Battle of Arques, the Miromesnil castle is the testimony of four centuries of architectural history. The simple lines of the Henry IV style south façade contrast with the decorative profusion of the Louis XIII monumental north facade.
Despite the succession of numerous landlords, the castle has kept its decorative elements from the past centuries: wooden panels from the XVII and XVIII century. The furniture (sofas, chest of drawers, wardrobes) relates life in the castle in the XVIII century. On the ground floor of one of the tower, a small lounge has been reorganised in a XIX century style, to recall the presence of the Maupassant family between 1849 and 1853.
The chapel Saint Anthony in the castle park was built between the XV and XVI century. The door is mounted with an arch, only decorative element of quite a sober general aspect. Its austere outside contrasts widely with the richness of the inside. Four XVI century statues in painted stone stare at the visitor when they enter the sanctuary. The stain glasses, from the same period, represent a Blamed Christ in the centre, and the landlords atthe time on the sides. Three contemporary stain glasses, made in 1964 by Guy De Vogüé offer an abstract representation of the Christ Passion. Finally, the chapel is entirely decorated with wooden panels and stucco ornaments. You can find an altar in oak and a fence made by a local blacksmith (Le Chien) from the XVII century. It was used by the monks from the Fécamps abbey until the revolution.
Today Château de Miromesnil is a hotel with beautiful gardens.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).