For castleholics, a vacation that does not involve a detour to some haunted castle falls flat on its face. And there are many such castles spread out all over the globe. But visiting castles is not just a preserve of addicted castle lovers. There’s something soul-stirring about castles. In most cases, there’s a history eaten up by the impressive walls that’s like a fairy tale. That’s without mentioning the architectural display made more appealing by the centuries gone by. Then there’s the setting, oftentimes as impregnable fortes in a backdrop of picturesque vistas—literally out of reach to envious eyes as well as malicious hearts.
And while most of these beautiful castles trace their ownership to individuals: a king, prince, or knight, there’s a medieval French castle that’s owned by not two or three but by over 9,000 people. And they are all complete strangers.
The History Of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers
There are castles that are just that—castles. On the flip side, there are château castles that are more than castles. The La Mothe-Chandeniers Castle is one such château.
And here’s the difference. While castles are primarily for security purposes and come with fortified walls and an array of defensive features, château castles are mostly country palaces of ancient nobles where beauty and grandeur were more esteemed than security or safety.
The La Mothe-Chandeniers Castle was built in the 13th century. That means the structure is about 800 years old.
Known by some as “Sleeping Beauty,” the Bauçay family, lords of Loudun, were the ones who first constructed the castle. Like most medieval castles, it originally bore the name of its celebrated owners. Hence, it was called La Mothe de Bauçay. However, it would subsequently change hands multiple times.
Also, due to its famed magnificence, it would be the object of envious attention in the European wars that were fought in its heyday. For instance, the English took it twice during the Hundred Years’ War. Soon after the end of the Hundred Years’ War, its ownership would change hands—this time to the Rochechouart-Chandenier family—the name that at last endured.
In the years that followed, the castle became a well-known venue for luxurious parties and exclusive gatherings for high society. That’s before another war would disrupt its lavish peace and cozy comfort. It was the French Revolution.
Later in 1809, as Abraham Lincoln was being born in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, across the Atlantic, a wealthy businessman known as François Hennecart was finalizing the purchase of the historic castle.
It would change hands once more in 1857 after which a fire destroyed it, leaving it to the mercies of the elements. However, more than 9,000 people—all strangers to each other—in dramatic style, eventually came to the castle’s rescue.
How Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers Came To Be Rescued (And Owned) By Strangers
About 31 years after the 1932 fire that ravaged the La Mothe-Chandeniers Castle, destroying priceless paintings, rare books, and antique furniture, a retired industrialist bought what now looked like a ruin. The industrialist, Jules Cavroy, would in 1981 sell it to a former secondary school maths teacher known as Marc Deyemer.
His attempts at restoration proved futile. Green foliage crept in through the turrets and the windows. All manner of plants and vines seemed determined to spoil its beauty. And many locals didn't just like what was unfolding before their eyes.
Rather than fold their hands in submission to fate and nature, they acted on a plan that ultimately became globally famous.
With the help of a private company, thousands of individuals—not necessarily kings, lords, or knights, have bandied together through crowdfunding—to help awaken the “Sleeping Beauty.”Even though these strangers don’t sleep inside the castle as typical owners would do, they all lay claim to its ownership, all thanks to a 21st-century financial innovation.
The crowdfunding initiative commenced towards the end of October 2017. Within about 40 days, about $880,000 has been raised from over 8,000 co-owners.
And while owning a castle would involve splashing millions of dollars, those who co-owned this gem had to part with a minimum amount of 50 euros, or $58, at the time.
What To Know Before Visiting Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers
TripAdvisor calls it an Architectural folly. To assess the appropriateness of that description, travelers will have to make their way to the French town of Les Trois-Moutiers in the Poitou-Charentes region of western France.
- How Much Are The Tour Charges At The La Mothe-Chandeniers Castle? Adults will pay $7.5 for a free tour and $11.5 for a guided tour.
The best time to visit the castle is when the day is clear or at an evening event that sometimes features fireworks. And yes, there’s a car park.
The castle itself is completely surrounded by water and hectares of greenery on every side. For those who love castles, the La Mothe-Chandeniers Castle is a soul-stirring gem.