Les Bretignolles

I should warn you not to expect this collection of notes to be linear. I am writing as information comes to light, or as I feel so inclined. Today, I’d like to talk about Les Bretignolles, which was owned by Etienne and Jane de Pierres in the mid to late 1800’s. They are both buried under the private chapel on the grounds.

I visited there for the first time in 2016 with my sister and brother-in-law, Nicole and Simon. They had been before and kindly drove me to Anche and organised the visit. I grew up knowing about the chateau, but nothing prepared me for the emotional reaction I had when I saw it. Below are a lot of pictures I took that day. I can’t describe the sense of peace and timelessness the beautiful grounds gave me, and how poignant it was to see the chapel where Etienne and Jane are buried.

But first, some history…

Les Brétignolles is mentioned in the 9th century in a document of Charles the Bald and belonged then to the chapter of Saint-Martin. It became the property of the Abbey of Marmoutier in the 11th century. The first known lord is Pierre de Sazilly in 1277. Later, it went to various families.The castle was probably built by Jean Bernard, governor of Loches in 1447. The chapel was built in 1507 by Antoine Bernard under the patronage of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié and Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. The Baronne de Pierres (and her husband), lady-in-waiting of Empress Eugénie, is buried there.” It is now owned by Dr Joel Brendel and family and was opened to the public for the first time in 2016.

Thanks to the research of Pierre Marie Danquigny, I can tell you that it specifically came into the de Pierres possession this way: ‘Pierre Madelon Jean Rene of Pierres de Fougeray (1758-1828) left it to his grandson Étienne Stéphane, Baron de Pierres (1818-1876), son of his daughter Eugénie Pierres (1785-1839) who had married his distant cousin, Gabriel Théodore de Pierres (1785-1837). Étienne Stéphane was Deputy of the Mayenne from 1863 to 1870 as well as chamberlain of Napoleon III; his wife, the Baroness de Pierres, born Jane Mary Thorn (1822-1873), was maid of honor to the Empress Eugenie de Montijo.’

The castle itself is described in Danquigny’s notes as ‘”one of the most beautiful houses of Touraine” according to André Montoux. It was built in the 15th century by Jean Bernard and his father-in-law Guillaume de Ballan; in the park, a cylindrical tower, transformed into dovecote, is undoubtedly a remainder of the fortifications of a primitive castle, of the 14th century. The keystones of the chapel, founded in 1507, were carved with Bernard’s coat of arms. Commons were added in the 18th century. The property is enclosed, by a stone wall, on which stands, at the north-east corner, a turret from the 16th century.’

Panorama of Les Bretignolles
Marianne at Les Bretignolles, Anche in 2016

Les Bretignolles
Chapel at Les Bretignolles
Chapel plaque, Les Bretignolles
Inside the chapel at Les Bretignolles
Dovecote? at Les Bretignolles
View from the chateau to the gate

I’m delighted to say that you can now visit Bretignolles and contribute to its resoration. Watch the progress on Facebook and Instagram. Read the wiki entry for a full chronology.

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