Château de Pontchartrain

Jouars-Pontchartrain, France

The estate of current Château de Pontchartrain was mentioned first time around 1325. The original manor was abandoned in the 16th century. Paul Phélypeaux was the king's counselor in 1610 and the founder of the Pontchartrain branch of the Phélypeaux family, who kept the chateau for two centuries. His son Louis I Phélypeaux had the main building built between 1633 and 1662.

Louis II Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain, Jean's brother, assumed the name of the property, where he assigned brother François Romain and André Le Nôtre to raise the chateau and in 1693 to design a magnificent park. After his wife died he was grief-stricken and resigned all his offices, which contemporaries thought he had never seen according to his friend Saint Simon. He retired to Ponchartrain, where he died.

After the chaos of French Revolution in 1801 the Duchess of Brissac sold Pontchartrain to the industrialist and speculator Claude Caroillon Destillières, a leader of the 'Black Band' syndicate of businessmen enriched by the Directory who specialized in the purchase and liquidation of the great aristocratic estates. He had the gardens transformed from the French style to that of an English park by the fashionable landscaper Louis-Martin Berthault. When Claude Destillières died in 1814 his huge fortune and land holdings passed to his daughter, Aimée Caroillon des Tillières.

In 1817 Aimée married the Count and then Marquis (1838) Rainulphe Eustache d'Osmond, aide to the Duke of Angoulême, whose older sister Adèle d'Osmond, Countess of Boigne, spoke of the library at Ponchartrain in her memoirs. The painter Jean-Baptiste Isabey, who taught Aimée d'Osmond drawing and was her friend, had his room in the chateau, where in 1815 he produced views of the interior.

In 1857 d'Osmond's son sold the estate to Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck for his mistress Esther or Thérèse Lachmann, called La Païva after her marriage in 1851 to the rich Marquis Aranjo de Paiva, a cousin of the Minister of Portugal in Paris. This rich young Prussian aristocrat, a cousin of Bismarck, had the house restored by the architect Pierre Manguin. His mistress had it redecorated and renovated the park where she created vistas and planted rare species. The local peasants were scandalized to see her galloping in the park dressed as a man.

The chateau was bought by the financier, industrialist and collector Auguste Dreyfus (1827–1897). In 1932 Drefus's heirs sold the estate to the Lagasse family, who in 1940 had the central pavilion pierced with an archway leading to wide steps connecting the courtyard to the gardens. The castle is now owned by a private company.

The castle was built around the middle of the 17th century following the traditional U-shaped French plan, featuring a central building behind the courtyard, which was enclosed with two wings, and surrounded by a moat. The main building includes a gallery, probably built between 1598 and 1609, providing communication between the two wings, an unusual arrangement - where the central body serves as a link - reminiscent of the Château d'Écouen, and is probably the result of successive stages of construction. This central body was rebuilt in 1738 and remodeled in the late 19th century by Boeswillwald, who has doubled in depth the garden side. The axial pavilion was pierced in 1940 by a vaulted passage, somewhat anachronistic.

The wings are composed of three pavilions connected by an elongated body. They are built of brick and stone, brick being used as a material following an approach that is also found in Château de Grosbois and the Château des Mesnuls. It is possible that the main apartments were in the left wing and the servants or commons in the right wing. In front of the central pavilion of the right wing, a bridge spanned the gap to provide access to the backyard. The stables and important outbuildings were built in the early 18th century, probably by brother Romain. The chapel was in the left wing, accessible by a gallery on the ground floor in the alignment of the main building. In 1703 it was replaced by an octagonal room, probably by brother Romain, but the Dreyfuses used another chapel according to Pringué. The gallery that leads to the chapel dates to 1653. This gallery-salon arrangement was repeated symmetrically in the right wing by Boeswillwald.

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Founded: 1633-1662
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

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