Château de Ferrières was built between 1855 and 1859 by Baron James de Rothschild. Rothschild ownership of the Château de Ferrières was passed down through the male line according to the rule of primogeniture. It is considered the largest and most luxurious 19th-century château in France.
The château was designed by the British architect Joseph Paxton. The inspiration for the design of Ferrières was Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, England, the house Paxton built for Baron James's cousin Mayer Amschel de Rothschild.
Built in the Neo-Renaissance style inspired by architecture of the Italian Renaissance, with square towers at each corner, the house sits on a formal terrace that gives way to 1.25 km² of gardens in a parkland that was part of a surrounding 30 km² forest contained in the estate. The showpiece central hall is 37 m long and 18 m high, its roof a full glass skylight. The sculpting of the interior atlas columns and caryatids was by Charles Henri Joseph Cordier and the decorative painting supervised by Eugène Lami. The massive library held more than 8,000 volumes. Because lavish entertaining was important, in addition to the private Rothschild apartments, the Château de Ferrières was built with eighty guest suites. Ferrières was inaugurated 16 December 1862 with a gala attended by Napoleon III.
Baron James acquired a vast collection of works of art, and statues adorned a number of the château's rooms. Several of the many sculptures were by Alexandre Falguière and the 18th-century Italian, Antonio Corradini and the Baron's son later added works by René de Saint-Marceaux.
During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Château de Ferrières was seized by the Germans and was the site of negotiations between Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the North German Confederation, and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jules Favre. The Germans again seized the château during the occupation of France in World War II and this time, looted its vast art collections.
The château remained empty until 1959 when Guy de Rothschild and his new wife, Marie-Hélène de Zuylen van Nyeve set about refurbishing it.
From 1959, they hosted regular parties at the Château, the theme of which would be personally designed by artists or designers such as Yves Saint Laurent. Their parties would mainly consist of aristocracy, but they always included many of her friends from a wider society such as Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
In 1975, Guy de Rothschild and his wife donated the château to the chancellery of the University of Paris, and it is now open to the public for guided tours and special events.References:
La Hougue Bie is a Neolithic ritual site which was in use around 3500 BC. Hougue is a Jèrriais/Norman language word meaning a \'mound\' and comes from the Old Norse word haugr. The site consists of 18.6m long passage chamber covered by a 12.2m high mound. The site was first excavated in 1925 by the Société Jersiaise. Fragments of twenty vase supports were found along with the scattered remains of at least eight individuals. Gravegoods, mostly pottery, were also present. At some time in the past, the site had evidently been entered and ransacked.
In Western Europe, it is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves and the most impressive and best preserved monument of Armorican Passage Grave group. Although they are termed \'passage graves\', they were ceremonial sites, whose function was more similar to churches or cathedrals, where burials were incidental.