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    Close to Aubigny-sur-Nère, an Enchanted Stuart Castle : ‘Le Château de la Verrerie’

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    Sologne Pine Forest and Heather Carpet at Nançay Berry France

    Sologne pine forest and heather carpet at Nançay, Berry, France © 2010 Scotiana

    If you love Scotland, you will certainly also love this part of France, in Berry, where, a long long time ago the Scots came to our rescue to save our country before settling there… many inhabitants can claim Scottish roots in the area and they seem to be very happy about that…

    Aubigny-sur-Nère,The City of the Stuarts, Berry, France

    Aubigny-sur-Nère, The City of the Stuarts, Berry, France © 2010 Scotiana

    After visiting Aubigny-sur Nère, the very picturesque French ‘City of the Stuarts’, and having learned a lot of things about the Auld Alliance we were quite eager to discover some of the other Scottish landmarks which abound in the neighbourhood.

    Camping des Etangs, Aubigny-sur-Nère, Berry, France

    Aubigny-sur-Nère - Camping des Etangs © 2010 Scotiana

    We had planted our tent in the  ‘Camping des Etangs’ and the very welcoming and friendly manager gave us a detailed map of the area on which he had underlined every single place that could interest us. One of them was the ‘Château de la Verrerie’. His enthusiasm about it was such that we immediately bought tickets to visit it the following day. He also suggested us to visit the ‘Musée de la Sorcellerie’, at Concressault, which had also been a Scottish Seigneury, but we’ll come back to that in another post.

    Camping des Etangs, Aubigny-sur-Nère, Berry, France

    Camping des Etangs, Aubigny-sur-Nère © 2010 Scotiana

    We didn’t regret our choice of the ‘Camping des Etangs’. It is well-equipped, quiet and situated in a most beautiful environment quite typical of Sologne, with romantic pools reflecting the colours of the four seasons and a dense forest which sometimes resembles our Landes, in Aquitaine. Here, we are not far from la Chapelle d’Angillon, the native town of Alain Fournier who wrote his unforgettable novel Le Grand Meaulnes ( The Lost Estate). It is said that he drew his inspiration from the Château de la Verrerie.

    The ‘Camping des Etangs’ is certainly the ideal place to stay if you want to see the Aubigny Scottish Highland Games. They take place next to the campsite, in mid-July, a good opportunity to share in our celebration of the 14 juillet, the Bastille Day 😉

    We had chosen to plant our tent in an isolated corner of the campsite, under big old trees and, the first night, we were surprised and quite happy to discover that one of them was inhabited by an owl…

    France -Berry -Sologne -Château de la Verrerie -pancarte

    Direction Château de la Verrerie © 2010 Scotiana

    So, it is with joy and much anticipation that the following day, our map of Berry unfolded before us in the car, we drove out of the campsite to take the direction of Le Château de la Verrerie. It is only several miles from Aubigny and quite easy to find.

    A big old tree in a forest path near the 'Château de la Verrerie'  near Aubigny-sur-Nère Berry France

    A big old tree in a forest path near the 'Château de la Verrerie' © 2010 Scotiana

    Through the woods, where some big old trees could tell us much about local past history, and along a quiet little lake where the castle reflects its elegant turrets, the pastel shades of its brick and stone walls and the grey colour of its slate roofs, the narrow forest road makes you feel at once the romantic atmosphere which surrounds the ‘Château de la Verrerie’.

    Château de la Verrerie étang France Berry Sologne

    Château de la Verrerie, étang © 2010 Scotiana

    C’est une maison perdue au milieu des bois.

    Il y a des tourelles, des toits pointus, un clocher perché, une galerie rose qui se reflètent dans un étang.

    La nuit, on voit briller les murs de la chapelle éclairée par les lampes de l’autel.

    Le bruissement des grillons, la clochette du crapaud, le chant des grenouilles,

    le cri des chouettes, l’appel lointain des pâtres,

    animent le silence et le transforment en une harmonie discrète

    (Marquise de Vogüé, La Maison Enchantée)

    You may wonder why this castle has been called the ‘Château de la Verrerie’. Well, it is simply because it has been built on the site of an old glassworks. However, I’ve learned that the ‘Château de la Verrerie’ had not always been called like that. Its Scottish builder, Berault Stuart of Darnley, called it ‘Le château de la forêt’ , and I like very much  the nickname of ‘La maison  enchantée’ which was given to it by Louise de Vogüé, one of its most loved and remembered owners, the lady who liked to take her tea under the shade of the lime trees, in front of the little lake…

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie castel d'entrée et boutique

    Château de la Verrerie, castel d'entrée et boutique © 2010 Scotiana

    The building of the ‘Château de la Verrerie’ began in the last years of the 15 th century, at the time of Bérault Stuart, the 4th Seigneur d’Aubigny. The Hundred Years War, which had opposed France and England for so long a time, had at last ended and France’s Scottish allies, who had settled in Berry since the time of Charles VII, were probably beginning to dream of a more cheerful abode than the old Aubigny fortress which, indeed, would be restored later…

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie map

    Château de la Verrerie, map © 2010 Scotiana

    It was probably between 1485 and 1490 that, in the middle of the woods of his vast estate and not far from an old glass factory, Berault Stuart discovered a glade which could be a perfect site to build the residence of his dreams,  on the banks of a little lake and the River Nère.

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie La Nère et l'étang

    Château de la Verrerie, La Nère et l'étang © 2010 Scotiana

    Hardly more than a hunting lodge at the beginnings, the ‘Château de la forêt’ was to become with time, and thanks to the contribution of Robert Stuart Lennox who succeeded Berault Stuart as the 5th Seigneur d’Aubigny, a beautiful Renaissance castle. But its architecture and decoration owe as much to the rich local art of Berry as to the influential Italian art. The beautiful city of Bourges was not far…

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie  Berault Stuart's stone coat of arms above the door of the hexagonale turret

    Château de la Verrerie, Berault Stuart's stone coat of arms above the door of the hexagonale turret © 2010 Scotiana

    First, the ‘Château de la forêt’ was limited to a two-level ‘corps de logis’ with a spiral staircase rising up a hexagonale turret.  If you examine carefully the stone lintel above the door of the turret you will recognize the coat-of-arms of Berault Stuart and the Scottish and French symbols of thistle and fleur de lys.

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie Chapelle

    Château de la Verrerie, la Chapelle © 2010 Scotiana

    The  beautiful chapel with its slightly leaning steeple dates back to Berault Stuart though its splendid interiors owe much to Robert Stuart and also to the Vogüé family. For ‘la petite histoire’ there are two versions explaining the steeple’s  ‘petit air penché’… some people say it is due to the strong winds blowing in the neighbourhood… some other say it is because the wood used for the building of the roof structure was still green.

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie The chapel painted vault

    Château de la Verrerie, The chapel painted vault © 2010 Scotiana

    You will also be told, when visiting the chapel, the touching story of a little girl, named Margaret, to whom we owe the discovery, at the beginning of the 20th century, of the beautiful paintings ornating the walls and dating back to the time of the Stuarts. Poor little Margaret was getting so bored during the long religious office she was attending that she began to scrape off the wallpaper of the chapel to keep her hands busy…  as she did so, the original paintings we can admire today suddenly re-appeared. You can be sure that the little girl was not scolded for what she had done! Soon, it would be the turn of the magnificent painted vault,with its beautiful Stuart medallions, to be rediscovered and restored.

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie Renaissance Galerie

    Château de la Verrerie, The Renaissance Gallery © 2010 Scotiana

    Robert Stuart of Lennox, Berault’s nephew and son-in-law, succeeded his uncle as the 5th Seigneur of Aubigny. The ‘Maréchal d’Aubigny’ as he came to be called, soon became as popular as his uncle. He was a very courageous knight, helping the French kings in the Italian wars and even saving the life of our legendary Bayard who is known in France as the ‘chevalier sans peur et sans reproche’. 

    The ‘Château de la Verrerie’ owes much to Robert Stuart. Among the extension and embellishment works he did, there is the magnificent brick and stone pillared Renaissance gallery. In the photo below, and though it is hardly visible , you can make out in the background of the gallery, one of several paintings hanging on the walls and depicting the Stuart knights at war.

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie The Renaissance Galerie

    Château de la Verrerie, The Renaissance Gallery © 2010 Scotiana

    If the story of the ‘Château de la Verrerie’ had begun with the Stuarts, it would not end with them, for the 12th and last Seigneur d’Aubigny, Charles Stuart Lennox, died in 1672 without an heir to succeed him. The ‘Château de la forêt’ would then pass into the hands of the beautiful and charismatic Duchess of Portsmouth, then to the dukes of Richmond who finally let it fall into decay.

    After a long time of neglect, the overgrown castle was finally rediscovered by Leonce Vogüé, who bought it and restored it.  The ‘Château de la Verrerie’ is still owned by the Vogüé family and its last owner has been called Béraud ;-). If you want to know more about the whole story of this charming Stuart castle, I invite you to read the book J. Frizot et B. de Vogüé have written . It’s a very interesting book, full of historical anecdotes, beautiful pictures and illustrations and very useful  genealogical trees.

    La Verrerie 'Le Château où le temps se repose' - texts by J. Frizot et B. de Voguë - illustrations by Yves Daniel 2007- Histoire et Patrimoine

    La Verrerie 'Le Château où le temps se repose' - texts by J. Frizot et B. de Vogüé - illustrations by Yves Daniel 2007- Histoire et Patrimoine

    La Verrerie 'Le Château où le temps se repose' - texts by J. Frizot et B. de Voguë - illustrations by Yves Daniel 2007- Histoire et Patrimoine

    La Verrerie 'Le Château où le temps se repose' - texts by J. Frizot et B. de Vogüé - illustrations by Yves Daniel 2007- Histoire et Patrimoine

    As you can see,  the story of the ‘Château de la Verrerie’ is a long story. In this post I have limited myself to the Stuart period…

    France Berry Sologne Château de la Verrerie Guides Berrichonnes

    Château de la Verrerie: nos passionnantes guides berrichonnes © 2010 Scotiana

    But, just to give you an idea of the enchanting tale we’ve been told at the ‘Château de la Verrerie’ by the  two charming ‘Berrichonnes’ who guide the visitors through the many rooms of the castle, I invite you to listen to the small video we’ve done when ‘Le château de la Verrerie’ was becoming for us ‘Le château de la Rêverie’…

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    Below, you will find the script of the video.

    Si la Verrerie m'était contée - Marc Frimat avec la collaboration de comédiennes de la Compagnie Esperluette Illustrations Yves Daniel - Château de la Verrerie.

    Si la Verrerie m'était contée - Marc Frimat avec la collaboration de comédiennes de la Compagnie Esperluette Illustrations Yves Daniel - Château de la Verrerie.

    Si la Verrerie m'était contée - Marc Frimat avec la collaboration de comédiennes de la Compagnie Esperluette Illustrations Yves Daniel - Château de la Verrerie.

    Si la Verrerie m'était contée - Marc Frimat avec la collaboration de comédiennes de la Compagnie Esperluette Illustrations Yves Daniel - Château de la Verrerie.

    A bientôt. Mairiuna.

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    3 comments to Close to Aubigny-sur-Nère, an Enchanted Stuart Castle : ‘Le Château de la Verrerie’

    • Is that first image real? It looks almost like the colors have been seriously skewed… But beautiful, really beautiful! Wish I was there.

      • The photo you’re mentioning has been taken during a visit of the Nançay Radioastronomy Observatory. On one side you had the sophisticated technology listening to the cosmos and on the other side the beautiful forest of Sologne with its carpet of purple heather, a true enchantment and our photos (hardly modified) do not render the beauty of the site …we were just passing by! 🙂

    • Hey! I found this post on yahoo and I took a peak at some other posts. I added you to my Feedburner feed. Keep on keeping on. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

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