You are here
Home > Château, manoir & other architectural gems > Whatever happened to Château de Blanche-Lande?

Whatever happened to Château de Blanche-Lande?

The hill looked the same, as did the lake but where was the château towering above it all?  Château de Blanche-Lande has disappeared.  Mostly.

Blanchelande
Match? In the Orne

In the heart of the Orne

Our vintage postcard photo was taken deep in the forest of Écouves north of Alencon, where the river Thouane widens to form two lakes.  One either side, tree covered hills rise up to form a steep edged valley.  A forge and a mill once stood at either end of the lakes and many centuries ago a Roman camp of 18,000 men dominated the area. Now fishing by a few discerning Orne fishermen is the only industry.

A clue?

A second postcard offered a possible clue, but no real answers.  It shows Blanche-Lande from the other side; an imposing three story building with long elegant windows and tall roofs but also messy wooden supports against one side.  Did Blanche-Lande fall down the hill?

Chateau de Blanche-Lande with some hefty supports!

 

We know the château was commissioned by a local worthy gentlemen, Senator for the Orne Charles-Eugène-Paul Poriquet.  He lived here and in Paris, working right up to the end of his 93 years. His Parisienne architect was considered eminent in his time but Louis XIII inspired style was soon outdated.

Charles-Eugène-Paul Poriquet had Blanche-Lande built in 1870 when he joined the Senat.
Charles-Eugène-Paul Poriquet had Blanche-Lande built in 1870 when he joined the Senat.

A surprising truth

A walk up the hill revealed the surprising truth about Château Blanche-Lande.   It is still there, cut down to just a roofless basement.

Château de Blanche-Lande

Doorways and windows stand vacant as nature slowly invades.  Tangled weeds distort the old rooms.  We step carefully over pale edible snails. A few heavy old tiles cling to the floor and a wall.

Château de Blanche-Lande tiles

The château must always have been remote.  A peaceful retreat within the noisy silence of Orne’s countryside; chattering birds, rabbits in the undergrowth, wind through old trees.  A haven for the hard working Senator, who liked to fish and successfully introduced rainbow trout to the Blanche-Lande lakes.

A final drama

Any drama the château has known is long gone.  One piece remains, a wide elegant staircase that curves up. To nothing.

Remnants of elegance

Two epitaphs

Charles died in 1910.  From then until 1943 there are very few references for Château de Blanche-Lande. Some notes in archaeological papers about the Roman fort mention a Miss Madeleine Peltereau living here.

Then in 1943 the château came under unusual scrutiny.

From the first floor

During German occupation Blanche-Lande was formally inspected.  Its wilderness location considered a prime site for concealing La Résistance.   The inspection report gives Château de Blanche-Lande a grim epitaph:

No construction in the area is worthy of interest. The castle, destroyed by fire, is not to be regretted because it was poorly located and built in a pretentious imitation style.”

From the kitchens

Games of light and shadow

We found a few kinder words about this ‘poor location’ from a visitor to the château just before the first world war in 1914: 

“by a narrow road between two ponds decorated with islands of water lilies one reaches the driveway to Château de Blanchelande.  An exquisite driveway with its games of light and shadow sheltered by tall trees opens out suddenly in the sun in front of a wonderful view…  The visitors admire the ‘unique show’ from the château terrace as miles of the Orne unfold before them.

Château de Blanche-Lande basement windows

Welcomed by Mme Peltereau they wander through the château rooms; ‘lounge, billiard room, study…’ She explains the study was Charles’ favourite place as ‘in serene old age M. Poriquet loved to live here amongst his books, his office window open onto the fresh countryside below.’

Muddle now by mature trees, what a wonderful view it must have been.

Château de Blanche-Lande view across the Orne today
Château de Blanche-Lande view across the Orne today

 

Nature is slowly winning

urbex

Leave a Reply

Protected with IP Blacklist CloudIP Blacklist Cloud

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Top