Few words about the domain
This is a rare example of civil architecture from the 13th century. The castle was built by the Templars (members of a military order) around 1214. It is surrounded by numerous other buildings spread around the court yard- (a deep well and a medieval styled garden). Behind the main building is a Chapel called Saint-Gorgon, which was a famous pilgrimage until the middle of the 20th century.
The templars were founded in Jerusalem in 1118. The order of the Temple has a protective purpose and was a medieval Christian chivalry. It protected the pilgrims who participated in the pilgrimage of the Holy Land, and also the tomb of Christ (the Holy Sepulchre) against attacks from Muslim warriors. The Templars are both soldiers and monks.
The Templars had a considerable fortune which enabled them to finance their military and religious activity in the middle east. The capital came from multiple donations as well as the Templars having been bankers to all of Europe. They lent money to sovereigns engaged in the Crusades.
Having become very rich, they built estates to protect the roads and to accommodate travellers, crusaders and pilgrims.
The Knights Templar was built in 1173 as a camaraderie on a domain offered by Henry II, the king of England and Duke of Normandy: the domain of St. Vaubourg.
At the end of the 11th century, the Knights Templar cleared lands to the Roumare forest to increase camaraderie, and created the “Genetey” in which they built a farm in 1214 to manage this new agricultural territory.
The dissolution of the Order at the Council of Vienna and the death of Grand Master Jacques de Molay, burned at the stake in 1314, led to the disappearance of the Order of the Temple. All the properties of the Knights templar were then distributed.
In the 15th century, land was cleared forthe Saint Georges Abbey, in Saint-Martin-de-Boscherville. This Benedictine abbey was founded in 1112 with the help of the very powerful family from Tancarville.
The Benedictine monks then made this the residence of their chaplain and then installed 1500 farmers while creating an inn, to host monks. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Gorgon, a Roman martyr.
During the French Revolution, the property was confiscated from the monks and then taken over by private individuals who made it a farm.
In the 1970’s, the land was progressively sold, and the farm was slowly demolished. This property was then bought by Mr and Mrs Ratier who prevented the further destruction of the building, and the land was listed as a Historical Monument. Now the new owners, Erwan and Sophie-Isabelle de Saint-Seine, have begun many years of restoration work…
-The main house
Two magnificent gables fifteen meters high characterise this Gothic mansion. It is built of Caumont stones, from quarries, from Gallo-Roman times. The manor consists of two large dwellings. The farmer’s dwelling is on the ground floor. A noble room reserved for monks was on the first floor which features beautiful barred windows of the 12th century. These windows are visible on the ground floor and on the first floor. The entrance door was built later, around 1500. Before the sixteenth century, access was very secure. Some traces of a strong house remain.
The porch next to the entrance door was built at the same time to allow external access to the Romanesque cellar located under the building. At the back of the house, a tower housing a spiral staircase was built in the seventeenth century to facilitate the ascent to the noble floor for the monks. This tower is crowned with rows of stone supporting a gallery which was recently glazed, and which formerly had a defensive role. Following searches carried out around the house, coloured tiles were found. So, when the roof was redone in the 1980s, it was covered with glazed tiles in the same tones as the vintage cover.
– Saint Gorgon Chapel
The foundations of the old oratory were redone during archaeological excavations which is now the current site of the chapel.
When the monks arrived in 1500, a chapel dedicated to Saint-Gorgon was built on the ruins of this oratory.
Gorgon was an officer of the entourage of the Emperor Diocletian. He converted to Christianity, and refused, just like his companion Dorothee of Nicomedia to renounce his faith. They both died as martyrs in 1302.
From the Middle Ages until 1950, hundreds of hundreds of pilgrims were found on the 9th of September in the chapel. Young people found their souls, and the elderly asked for a cure for their rheumatism.
This chapel is built with timber from the 13 centuries. Inside, the chapel retains a renaissance ornament composed of a painted decoration representing the twelve Sibyl Apostles. The Sibyls were women who predicted the future of the ancient past around the Mediterranean Basin.
– The medieval garden
In the 1970s, the original garden had returned to the wild. The owners wanted to give it back its medieval appearance, so did so by using plants grown at the time – a garden which corresponded to gardens of the Middle Ages.
A large part of the vegetable species known in medieval times still exist here and have some of the same properties of Charlemagne in the year 800. Such as beans, crambe, parsnips.
Medicinal and aromatic herbs which are used for the preparation of remedies, ointments and herbal teas, such as poppy, plantain, mint, thyme, rue, aconite.
Fruits – raspberries, currants, rhubarb …
Flowers – nasturtium, iris, rose, carnation, …
– and one of the most precious spices of the time: saffron, which was reported from the Crusades by the pilgrims.
Apple, quince and pear tree trees form a circular orchard around the chapel. A maze (10) can also be seen west of the park.
More than 300 varieties of flowers, plants and trees were planted in the medieval garden and in the property’s park.
The other buildings:
– The bakery
Built in 1600, there is a trace of a bread oven inside.
– The cart house
It was originally used as a garage for the cart, then more recently housed glass ovens.
– The kennel
Built around 1600 in Caumont stone. Like the manor house and the well, it is distinguished from the other agricultural buildings on the property and has been a shelter for several centuries.
– The maze
– The well
The well, created at the same time as the house, had the reputation of being 300 feet deep (100 meters). But its true depth was only found after substantial cleaning work was done as it had been blocked during the second world war. It was built with beautiful white stones, like those of the home from the quarries of Caumont.