Sauvons le château qui a vu naître la Normandie !

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After protecting the Norman frontier for almost 1000 years, this castle nearly disapeared. Today, this fortress needs your help to become a glorious sentry once again!
Château
Château sur Epte
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The oldest castle in Normandy ?

Normandy was founded in 911 AD, in sight of the castle. It's less than 1500 meters away that the Viking chief Rollo and the Frankish king, Charles III, met. From their parley, they agreed to sign the Saint-Clair-sur-Epte treaty, the document that created the duchy of Normandy.

Drawing of the castle as it was in the 12th century

Historians are still arguing about what the castle looked like back then.

Was there already a wooden protective wall or just the hill where Rollo would build the first Norman defenses in 911?

Whichever the case, the location of the castle is not coincidental: from this hill, overlooking the Epte valley (the Epte is a tributary of the Seine), the fortress stands as a guardian of the duchy's eastern frontier.

Standing right between Paris and Rouen, the Norman capital, any invasion by land or water can be seen from its walls.

In 1097 AD, preparing for war against the French kingdom, William II, king of England and regent of the duchy of Normandy for his brother (who had left for the Crusades) decided to heavily fortify the castle, transforming it in an impressive stone sentry.

While Normandy is in theory a vassal of the French kingdom, the duchy is more and more in conflict with Paris.

It is while leading an invasion of French lands that William the Conqueror died, with his son by his side.

For centuries, this stronghold was a strategic asset during the wars between the French and Norman (then Anglo-Norman), contested by both powers for its strategic location.

Romantic engraving of the castle keep, ruined

After the Middle Ages, the castle was less and less useful, until the cardinal Mazarin, Louis XIV first minister, ordered its dismantling in 1647. Since then, abandoned and forgotten, the fortress fell bit by bit to ruin, under the assault of men, nature and time.

But, in 2015...

A small organisation to save a piece of history who nearly disappeared

Overrun by vegetation, stones missing, rooftops full of holes or totally collapsed, towers and walls partially collapsed... That's how we discovered the fortress when we entered it for the first time, in 2015. Our organisation, Héritage historique (Historical heritage), aim to save and protect historical heritage could'nt remain unmoved by the castle ruin.

Inside of the castle, collapsed after a fire in 1973

A massive fire and numerous years of neglect by its former owners had left the castle in a tragic state of disrepair. In some parts, nature had even took over again, damaging the masonry and speeding up its ruin.

Since then, our volunteers, all history lovers, have worked hard to slow down and repair the damages of time. Our first battle was against the invasive vegetation. The two courtyards, the ditches, the residential quarters... everything was overrun. Trees were even growing high on the walls, destroying the ancient stonework with their roots.

Like a medieval army, ivy was assaulting the towers, the ramparts, the exterior walls, infiltrating everywhere, loosening the stones and weakening the masonry. Implacable, patient, every year the damage spread further. From all the sieges the castle had seen, this one is by far the most dangerous.

The gate and the keep as we found them in 2015

Our first task was to save the fortress from this deadly assailant. Thanks to our volunteers efforts, we have salvaged the courtyards, the towers, the walls and the living quarters from the ravages of this invading enemy.

And with the support of our valiant goat division, they're is no coming back for the vegetation!

Once this important work was done, we were finnaly able to see the walls and make a real assessment of the castle's condition.

Since 2015 we have repaired more than 200 square meters of
roof
to protect the masonry. We have done dozens of
small but essential repairs
to avoid further collapse and to
repair the most fragile parts. But we are well aware that for
the castle to be reborn,
much more substantial work
needs to be done

Drawing of the castle courtyard after our first work of deforestation and roof repair

Today, we need your help to keep protecting the forgotten sentry.

By your side, a first step toward the castle's restoration

Our volunteers in 2018, working on the portcullis needed to
consolidate the eastern gate

Like every year, summer is the time of work and repair in the castle. It's the season where our workers (all volunteers) can give the most of their time to be here.

This year, we have schedule two work periods. The first one, in July, with our regular volunteers, and the second one in August.

The latter will be realised in partnership with a local employment aid organization, and we'll welcome a group of young people reintegrating into the workforce to help us with the castle's restoration.

The castle's goat unit is very efficient to prevent
the cleared vegetation coming back

But, for the first time since 2015, we will now work on a large scale and repair whole parts of the castle's structure.

It's our most ambitious project but also the most necessary work we'll have done since we decided to save the castle.

In fact, the general condition of the castle is so bad in some areas that they are inaccessible without this summer's reconstruction.

Obviously, this prevents any public visit, but also hinders their restoration. The slit windows and walkways for example can't be repaired until we have stabilised several walls, currently partially collapsed.

Aerial picture of the castle as it is today

This is both a good news and a new challenge for us: this is the proof that we are making progress and that our efforts to save the castle are fruitful.

But this new chapter of our work involves substantial cost, and it will be difficult for our small organization to afford them.

Not to mention the cost of the architectural studies, we must invest in professional tools and equipment to successfully complete this summer's projects. In total, this equipment is worth 20 000 €, a sum of money our small association isn't able to pay yet.

That's why we are asking for your help and your generosity: we need your donation to help us fund the restoration of the castle.

An ambitious project, made possible because of you :

This summer's work will focus on several parts of the fortress's structure, substantially decayed by the centuries and the elements.

This stage of our project is crucial for the castle's restoration: if we succeed in our work, the castle's destruction will be stopped and not just slowed down!

Let me explain in detail what our objectives are in this important task:

- Main objective : Restore the master tower-gate:

It's the most important and ambitious part of our summer campaign, but also the most expensive. We're not sure we'll be able to complete it this summer.

Partially collapsed since 2001, a significant crack split the tower from the top to middle. The wall has also collapsed at its base, and was totally overrun by the ivy,  destroying the mortar and weakening the building.

To start the work on this part of the castle we must first set up important security measures, especially a rock screen roof and a shoring equipment (as in the picture above).

Our goal is to make the masonry repairs on the part of the building we will be able to access thanks to the shoring. This will allow us to stabilise the wall and delay its erosion.

The scaffold, will allow us to work on the upper part of the wall, the shoring equipment preventing any risk of collapse.

The aerial bucket, will allow us to repair the whole crack, without putting our volunteers at any risk.

- Secondary objective : Save the West outer wall :

It is one of the most severe threats for the castle. The western wall's base is seriously damaged at three points where the vegetation dislodged mortar and stones. A massive crack also runs through the center of the wall. This significantly weakened the whole rampart.

- Bonus objective Stop the South tower gate's lintel collapse :

One of the arrow slits in the southern tower-gate has greatly suffered from erosion, many stones are missing on the sides and the lintel is very close to collapse.

This is particularly worrying. If this arrow slit were to fall down, the stability of the entire wall is threatened.

What will your donations be used for ?

To complete this important work we have no other choice than to ask for your help. As I said before, our small organisation can't afford to buy all the professional equipment we need to save the castle.

To completely finish our summer work, and maybe even get ahead on a future campaign, we need a total of 20 000 €.

- First tier goal : 5 000 € - we can start our summer work

- Architectural studies : cost 3 000 €
- Insurance and materials : cost 2 000 €

- Second tier goal : 10 000 € - we can work on the walls

Without equipment, it's impossible to access the top of the tower

Purchase of a professional scafolding
Cost : 5 000 €

- Third tier goal : 15 000 € - we can work on the top of the tower

Purchase of a professional aerial bucket (second-hand). Cost : 5 000 €





- Fourth tier goal : 20 000 € - we can get ahead on next year projects

Purchase of a mini excavator (second-hand). Cost : 5 000 €

Your donation can make a difference and allow us to save, repair and rebuild this witness of Europe's history which has stood here for nearly a thousand years. We are relying on you, Thank you in advance for your generosity.

You can help us by donating:

Dartagnans Campagne Châteauneuf sur Epte 15 rue de Milan 75009 PARIS

Thanks for your generosity!

With your help, we will rebuild Châteauneuf sur Epte!

For any specific questions, don't hesitate to send an email to: [email protected]

You can learn more about the castle's history and our organisation's work on our website : www.chateaunormand.fr (English version coming soon)

You can also support us and keep in touch with a like on our Facebook page!


Rewards

Pledge 15 or more
Or 5.1€ after tax deduction
27 donations
I fund : 1 bag of silex for the shoring
To show our gratitude :
- an original drawing of the castle on paper
- a public thanks on social media

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 30 or more
Or 10.2€ after tax deduction
23 donations
I fund : 1 bag of 35kg of lime for masonry
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks
+ your name amongst our benefactors on our web site

As a gift :
+ one free pass to visit the castle during the European Heritage Days of 2019

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 50 or more
Or 17€ after tax deduction
47 donations
I fund : 2 tons of sand for masonry
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= previous gift
+ you'll receive a museum quality replica of sterling silver coin as it was minted by the vikings in the 10th century

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 75 or more
Or 25.5€ after tax deduction
4 donations
I fund : tools for 1 volunteer
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= previous gift
+ one free pass to visit the castle during the European Heritage Days of 2019
+ one private invitation to visit the castle volunteer work camp this summer
+ a nice bottle of locally brewd beer and a medieval glass will be given to you at the end of your visit

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 100 or more
Or 34€ after tax deduction
16 donations
I fund : safety gear for 1 volunteer
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= you are invited to the privately held benefactors medieval banquet
+ a nice bottle of locally brewd honey and spices flavoured medieval wine will be serve to you during the banquet

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 200 or more
Or 68€ after tax deduction
9 donations
I fund : 1 meter of castle wall repairs
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= invitation to the medieval banquet (as above)
+ a nice calligraphy set or, if you prefer, a bottle of locally brewd honey and spices flavoured medieval wine and an elaborated medieval glass will be given to you at the end of your visit

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 300 or more
Or 102€ after tax deduction
2 donations
I fund : 4 beams to help secure the gate tower
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks
+ a personalised original drawing of the castle on paper to your name

As a gift :
= invitation to the medieval banquet (as above)
+ a very original wax seal set inside a small romantic stone box OR, if you prefer, a bottle of premium brewd honey and spices flavoured medieval wine and two medieval glasses will be given to you at the end of your visit

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 500 or more
Or 170€ after tax deduction
2 donations
I fun : 10 square meters of rock screen roof to protect our volunteers
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= invitation to the medieval banquet (as above)
+ a bottle of mead (traditionnal fermented honey alcohol) with its handmade leather pint glass OR, if you prefer, a wonderful leather notebook wiht its feather pen will be given to you at the end of your visit

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 1,000 or more
Or 340€ after tax deduction
0 donation
I fund : 30 square meters of scaffold
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= invitation to the medieval banquet for 2 (as above)
= enjoy a unique VIP experience : come live one day as a medieval person in costum during a traditional celebration
= an object made especially for you : you can choose between a traditionnal handmade scarf using medieval technics or the replica of a medieval knife handmade by a swordsmith

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge 2,000 or more
Or 680€ after tax deduction
0 donation
Very generous contribution
To show our gratitude :
= previous thanks

As a gift :
= invitation to the medieval banquet for 2 (as above)
= a unique VIP experience (as above)
= an handcrafted object made especially for you
+ your name will forever be part of the castle : written on a piece of parchment, it will be scealed in a lead coffer inside the medieval walls of the gate tower during the renovation work.

The tax deduction is only applicable if you pay your taxes in France.
Pledge without a reward
7 donations
 
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