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A parapet walk upsets all our plans! By our side, let's rescue the tower of Marmande!

English version of the video

Become a benefactor of the Château de Marmande!


The fortress that is Marmande, situated on a rocky promontory, was built from the year 1000, at the crossroads of three regions, Touraine, Poitou and Anjou. 

Attacks, sieges, demolitions and reconstructions followed one after the other. The keep was surrounded by high curtain walls. Access to the castle was protected by a drawbridge and a massive gate-tower built around 1150. The barons of Marmande increased their power through various alliances. A 28-metre-high watchtower was built around 1300, giving a panoramic view of over 10km around the château, and with it the assurance of seeing and being seen.

A few centuries later, during the Hundred Years War, Jean V de Bueil, a companion of Joan of Arc and Baron of Marmande, reinforced the defensive nature of the site, constucting a thick-walled defence up against the keep tower, eliminating the drawbridge. These walls are still intact! However, they are hiding the mediaeval keep tower.

However, the current restoration work has revealed the existence of a parapet walk on the top of this tower. The tower should resemble that of Saumur, for example, as can be seen in this illumination.

We can't just overlook this discovery! Supplementary archaeological studies must be carried out. And so the restoration project will be altered to take these findings into account. 

Let us give the keep tower back its battlements!

All that has a cost, of course, and to carry out this work we need your help.

Let's find the real history of this forgotten castle.


A STORY OF A TOWER AND KNIGHTS...

fresque histoire

The Château de Marmande is the last witness of the medieval history of a strategic territory, a frontier zone between the Touraine, Anjou and Poitou regions of France.To set the scene : Around the year 1000 A.D., Marmande found itself at the heart of a battlefield. The oldest of its walls date from this troubled era as does the network of underground passages and rooms burrowed under it. After the turbulent periods of feudal wars, the barons of Marmande held prestigious posts for the kings of France. A watchtower more than 30 meters high was built with the help, so legend would have it, of the fairy Mélusine. 

The château was bought in 1730 by the Count of Argenson, who laid waste to it, using the stones of it to construct his own château, leaving only the watchtower, the keep and the mediaeval curtain walls as a reminder of its past power. Rapidly sold on, the site became an agricultural operation, forgotten by historians. The current owner, the grand-daughter of the  last farmer and sole heir of her generation, obtained the listing of the château as an historical monument (Monument Historique) in 2015. The architectural elements which survive to this day are of high quality and reflect the development of a fortress between  the 11th and the 16th centuries: the château is in original condition. 

Initial studies revealed the perilous state of the site. The château is in fact in a bad way. The owner and her partner, being both directors of documentary films within the fields of Science and History, connected with researchers in order to extend the breadth of knowledge about the archaology and the history of the castle. At the same time, the work needed to safeguard the site began, as well as the first public events taking place. 

Marmande then became a shared story!

Spontaneously, a small volunteer army began to form. Brushcutting, land-clearing, moat cleaning, were all organised with an enthusiastic team. Together, they felled some trees and planted others, took down roofs, and swept up everything that was cluttering up the site. Above all, the owners of the castle are no longer alone in their efforts to bring this place back to life!

OUR PROJECT: SAVE AND BRING ALIVE THIS ENDANGERED CASTLE!


Never having been the subject of either inappropriate resoration or archaeological study, this authentic fortress has become a field of study for researchers, historians and archaeologists. Its history, whilst retaining a certain mysteriousness, is becoming clearer. All this will enable us to offer a visitor trail aimed at discovering the fortress through different periods of construction and human habitation.

Since 2016, the château has been opening its gates for important events such as the European National Heritage Days, the National Festival of Science, the Springtime Poetry days, and the National Archaeology Days. An association was created to continue offering these events and to come up with other event ideas. And we have loads of ideas! In 2018, more than 1000 people joined in during the first events programme. In 2019, the site will officially open to the public between July and September. Mind you, the walls had better stay standing!    

In 2020, the watchtower is the first to be restored to its former glory, undergoing a veritable rejuvenation! Stones that were damaged have been replaced. The timber frame of the roof, which dated from 1370, has been faithfully recreated. This element of the work should have been finished by June 2020, but, as might be expected, the current health crisis has brought about a delay. If the weather holds, you will be able to visualise virtually live, under the « Actualités / News » tab, this timber frame being put in place on the watchtower at the beginning of December! After this complete makeover, let's hope that it will live again for several centuries, so that lovers of the castle can keep climbing up to the summit!


MARMANDE 2021

In 2021, it will be the turn of the keep tower to be restored in the second phase of the restoration project. The timber of the first floor has been dated, and the beams, which are still well-preserved, date from 1170! That's the same era as when Eleanor of Aquitaine became the Queen of England!

The keep tower outside 

The keep tower inside 

This phase has just begun. The roof terrace, dating from 1990, has been removed. The stones of the rooftop have been exposed. A filled-in parapet has been uncovered. Imagine, if you will, a gate tower with a drawbridge, a machicolation (a device which allowed heavy projectiles to rain down on the enemy) to protect the entranceway, battlements on the top, it must have been an impressive sight!

This incredible discovery has affected the restoration project. First of all, archaeological work needs to be carried out to clear around it. We want to make it visible and accessible. The plans for the roof terrace on top of the keep tower will have to be modified. Sadly, our budget is already very tightly stretched.

The work was estimated to cost 610,000 euros. Currently, our budget falls short by 25,000 euros. We are supported by the DRAC, the Loto de la Patrimoine and the generous donations of our benefactors. We ourselves can only finance 10% of this resoration work: after 4 years of restoration work our savings have disappeared. 

And the discovery of the  sentry walk brings with it extra costs...


A piece of tuffeau limestone in the hands of an expect stonemason

The target fixed by Château Challenge is 10,000 euros and will enabling us to finance either of the following:

  • 10m3 of tuffeau limestone. The quantity actually needed for the restoration of this tower is 55m3. These stones are those that will be placed on the external walls to replaces damaged ones.

  • The stones for the paving of the terrace, where the sentry walk is.

Whichever project is chosen, the surface to be covered remains the same.

The second target of 15,000 euros would enable us to finance 15m3 of tuffeau limestone or paving stones and their integration into the terrace.

le pavage de la tour porte

Click on the image below to see a little video of the paving.

Join us in this adventure to save the Château de Marmande!


HOW CAN YOU TAKE PART IN THIS PROJECT?

You can donate online, after signing in and connecting here: www.dartagnans.fr

OUR SUPPORTERS:

revue de presse

We have an active communication policy. As an example of this, our dossier was selected by Stéphane Bern for the 1st issue of a Heritage Lottery. You can see one photo at the Elysée Palace at an event concerning this lottery, with Président Macron! The local press and regional magazines support us and report on what we do. Regional radio and television channels have already reported on our activities and will return to cover important events in the future. We are committed to sharing with others key elements of what we are doing. To this end, our internet site is updated regularly, along with a Facebook page and a You Tube channel. Using these communication means, those interested can watch videos of the work in progress, the different events and also the research carried out at Marmande. 

For us, it it important to share history, and those who support us are part of that history!

Our website: http://latourdemarmande.com/

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contact: [email protected]