Château de Méréville

Méréville, France

Château de Méréville is known of its landscape gardens made in the late eighteenth century. The château was first built as a medieval fortress, and then rebuilt on the medieval buildings' remains in 1768 for Jean Delpech. The 1768 phase was provided with modest formal gardens.

The château and its park in the French gardening style were bought in 1784 as the last of his country houses by the financier Jean-Joseph de Laborde, one of the richest financiers of the Ancien Régime, after his neighbours gave him the chance to do so. On this marshy land he decided to rebuild the château and create a large landscape park to his own taste. To this end he commissioned major artists such as Bélanger (famous in this decade for having constructed Bagatelle in only two months for the comte d'Artois), the famous cabinetmaker Leleu, the sculptor Augustin Pajou and the painter Claude Joseph Vernet.

In 1786 Bélanger's plans were threatening to prove too expensive even for the marquis (he habitually spent without keeping count of spending, which as a sensible administrator the marquis could not accept). Bélanger was thus sacked as chief architect in May that year and replaced by Hubert Robert, though Bélanger remained onsite for the construction of the circular temple of filial piety (built in honour of the marquis' daughter Natalie, containing a marble bust of her by Augustin Pajou).

The following year, 1787, in some of the most exceptional hydrographic work of the period, the re-routing of the Juine took a long time to achieve. Next, an entirely new type of structure was built on a small island in the centre of the main lake - a rostral column, in honour of the marquis' two young sons Edouard (1762–1786) and Ange Auguste (1766–1786), news of whose disappearance had arrived in France earlier that year. They had died young at sea in Lituya Bay during the La Pérouse expedition.

The park is in the marquis' own image, showing his admiration for navigation and discovery (not only the rostral column, but also the cenotaph in honour of the Englishman Captain Cook, are the most obvious indicators of this), his love of nature and beautiful plants (linked to exploration in this era of botany and classification - the park is stuffed with rare imported species, acclimatised to their new habitat by the rich soil of the Méréville valley), and his memory of his youth in the Basque and the mountainous Pyrénées (a rocky waterfall, spiral staircases down into grottoes, and dénivellés). It also shows off his riches, with bridges 'aux boules d'or' (with gold spheres), grottoes adorned with thousands of pieces of gold leaf or precious and semi-precious stones, and above all a pebble-paved road which gives the park such a great cachet.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 1768
Category: Castles and fortifications in France

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

User Reviews

Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Roman Walls of Lugo

Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.

Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.

The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.

Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.

Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.

The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.