Rydzyna Castle was built in the early 15th century by Komes Jan of Czernina. Eighteenth-century architecture and town planning were such as to have made it a classic example of a baroque urban configuration joined to a manor house.
Rafał Leszczyński, then owner of Leszno, purchased the property in late 17th century. He oversaw construction work in 1690-1694 to convert the medieval castle into a baroque manor with four four-storey wings arranged around an internal courtyard, with four alcove towers in the corners. The conversion was led by the Royal Architect Giuseppe Józef Szymon Belotti. The interior arrangement, with its economical basement, first floor private apartments, and lavishly decorated second floor with its elegant interiors, are his work as well. The architect Pompeo Ferrari was commissioned to complete the work c. 1700. He redesigned the western wing of the castle with a two-storey ballroom over an elliptical vestibule. To the west, a garden was built over the former castle moats.
Rafał’s son, Stanisław Leszczyński, became King of Poland in 1704. The castle was burnt down during the Saxon Wars and Rydzyna was placed under Saxon administration from 1709. Stanisław Leszczyński left for France.
Aleksander Józef Sułkowski, a minister of Augustus II the Strong, purchased the Leszczyński property in 1738. Sometime around 1740, he hired Silesian architect Karol Marcin Frantz and set about reconstructing the manor. The monumental, elegant stairway added to the north wing is his work. The stairway is connected to each floor via a stately vestibule. The west wing ballroom was rearranged and stucco decoration added by Jan Chrystian Grünewald from Legnica. The polychrome ceiling features Apoteoza Rodu Sułkowskich (The Apotheosis of the Sułkowski Family) by Silesian painter Georg Neunhertz. He probably painted the polychrome on the internal courtyard walls as well (their remains were uncovered during work carried out in the 1970s and 1980s.
The castle island was also extended and new moats were dug. A semi-circular courtyard was installed in front of the northern elevation of the castle. This was enclosed by annexes, a stable, a coach house and a dressage arena connected via galleries. August Sułkowski inherited the property in 1762. He aligned the manor and the city along a composition axis. In 1776, Ignacy Graff placed a semi-circular closed pool in the garden, surrounded it with stone sculptures by Jan Rimpler, and designed several park pavilions, including an orangery in which plays were staged. Graff is also credited with rebuilding the ballroom and having monumental marble columns installed inside it. The city also experienced a boom during the time of August Sułkowski, who created Rydzyna as an entailed estate in 1775.
The German government purchased the estate and turned the castle into a collegiate school when the last male heir in primogeniture died in 1909. When the country regained independence in 1918, the Rydzyna property was acquired by the Ministry of Education and converted into a boys’ high school with a dormitory. The castle was seized by Germany during WWII and was almost completely burnt down in 1945. Renovation, restoration and conservation work was carried out in the 1970s and 1980s.References:
The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.
Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.