HISTORY OF THE CHÂTEAU

- DISCOVER THE CHÂTEAU THROUGHOUT THE AGES -

Prehistory

Prehistory

-10 000 BC

  • Acquigny

Mesolithic era

Traces of the presence of early man at Acquigny were discovered in the Onglais locality in the 1980s.

Traces of the presence of early man at Acquigny were discovered in the Onglais locality in the 1980s.

Prehistory

- 4000

  • Acquigny
  • Architectural

Neolithic era

This archeological site was isolated from the Madrie Plateau by a semicircular earthen rampart measuring approximately 100 meters. The embankment rose 20 meters in front of a 4-6 meters deep moat which was partly filled. These ruins were listed in 1945. The entire area, now completely overtaken by the forest, is owned privately

This archeological site was isolated from the Madrie Plateau by a semicircular earthen rampart measuring approximately 100 meters. The embankment rose 20 meters in front of a 4-6 meters deep moat which was partly filled. These ruins were listed in 1945. The entire area, now completely overtaken by the forest, is owned privately

The Roman Era

The Roman Era

1st century BC. to 5th century AD

  • Acquigny

A Place of Gallo-Roman Passage

Acquigny was a place of passage between the Neubourg Plateau and the Madrie Plateau. The Roman stone-paved ford across the Eure still exists today. Additionally, numerous Roman coins have been discovered at Acquigny.

Acquigny was a place of passage between the Neubourg Plateau and the Madrie Plateau. The Roman stone-paved ford across the Eure still exists today. Additionally, numerous Roman coins have been discovered at Acquigny.

The Roman Era

Middle of the 4th century

  • Acquigny

the Martyrs of Acquigny

In the middle of the 4th century, Saint Maxime (locally known as Mauxe), a bishop of Italian origin, escaped to Gaul after having been pursued in Italy for his faith. Pursued by Sabinus, a proconsul (Roman provincial governor), Mauxe was decapitated at the field now known as the “Clos Saint Mauxe”, on the bank of the Eure River at Acquigny. His deacon Vénérand was also executed, along with 38 Roman soldiers who had converted to Christianity.

In the middle of the 4th century, Saint Maxime (locally known as Mauxe), a bishop of Italian origin, escaped to Gaul after having been pursued in Italy for his faith. Pursued by Sabinus, a proconsul (Roman provincial governor), Mauxe was decapitated at the field now known as the “Clos Saint Mauxe”, on the bank of the Eure River at Acquigny. His deacon Vénérand was also executed, along with 38 Roman soldiers who had converted to Christianity.

The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages

876

  • Acquigny

First appearance of the name Acquigny

“Aciniacius” appeared in a charter written by King Charles le Chauve that confirmed various possessions of the abbey of Saint Ouen of Rouen.

“Aciniacius” appeared in a charter written by King Charles le Chauve that confirmed various possessions of the abbey of Saint Ouen of Rouen.

The Middle Ages

1035

  • Acquigny
  • Architectural

The construction of the Saint Mauxe Priory

In 1035, Lord Roger de Tosny gave the monks of the abbey of Conches the right to build a fortified priory situated on the grounds of the present-day cemetery. Today all that remains of the priory is the ruins of a tower in the park of the Château d’Acquigny and the porch of the church at the entry of the cemetery. The chapel was reconstructed in 1747 by Monsieur d’Acquigny.

In 1035, Lord Roger de Tosny gave the monks of the abbey of Conches the right to build a fortified priory situated on the grounds of the present-day cemetery. Today all that remains of the priory is the ruins of a tower in the park of the Château d’Acquigny and the porch of the church at the entry of the cemetery. The chapel was reconstructed in 1747 by Monsieur d’Acquigny.

The Middle Ages

1040

  • Acquigny
  • Architectural

Construction of the fortress

Around 1040, William the Conqueror, who wanted to protect his duchy of the French, ordered the construction of several fortresses. The fortress of Acquigny belonged to the second line of Norman defense and was a control site for navigation on the Eure between the Seine and Chartres, a route that was quite active in those days. The long perspective, which allowed the surveillance of the grounds and the overseeing of the arrival of assailants, still exists today. One arm of the Iton (the “Iton perché”) was turned into a canal to flood the land surrounding the fortress in case of invasion, and to clear land for the creation of a watermill for the making of wheat.

Around 1040, William the Conqueror, who wanted to protect his duchy of the French, ordered the construction of several fortresses. The fortress of Acquigny belonged to the second line of Norman defense and was a control site for navigation on the Eure between the Seine and Chartres, a route that was quite active in those days. The long perspective, which allowed the surveillance of the grounds and the overseeing of the arrival of assailants, still exists today. One arm of the Iton (the “Iton perché”) was turned into a canal to flood the land surrounding the fortress in case of invasion, and to clear land for the creation of a watermill for the making of wheat.

The Middle Ages

1204

  • Acquigny

Unification of part of the domain of Acquigny with the royal domain

The border between France and Normandy was highly contested during the Franco-Norman wars, shifting constantly. From 1162 to 1199, Acquigny lay sometimes on French soil and sometimes on Norman,

until the time during which the Eure marked the border. Philippe Auguste reclaimed Acquigny in 1199. In 1204, after the conquest of the Château Gaillard, Normandy was reattached to France and the half of the domain of Acquigny that belonged to the Lord of Tosny (who had immigrated to England) was confiscated and became part of the royal territory. Today numerous descendants of this family live in England, Australia, and United States…

The Middle Ages

1223

  • Acquigny

The House of Montmorency, lord of Acquigny

Mathieu II de Montmorency, husband of Emme de Laval and known as “Mathieu le Grand”, became Lord of Acquigny.  He was the chief architect of the conquest of the Château Gaillard and of the battle of Bouvines, won by King Philippe Auguste.

Mathieu II de Montmorency, husband of Emme de Laval and known as “Mathieu le Grand”, became Lord of Acquigny.  He was the chief architect of the conquest of the Château Gaillard and of the battle of Bouvines, won by King Philippe Auguste.

The Middle Ages

1365

  • Acquigny

Siege of the fortress

After the battle of Cocherel, won by du Guesclin in 1364, some Englishmen and their French allies (“les Navarrais”) – who had supported the Count of Evreux, Charles de Navarre – took refuge inside the fortress at Acquigny.  The king of France therefore sent an army of two thousand fighters to Acquigny. In the year 1365, the troops, commanded by Jean Bureau de la Rivière, took six months to take over the fortress.

Translation from Old French: “In the fortress of Acquigny there were Englishmen and Normands and the Navarres, who had retreated there after the battle of Cocherel.  They held strong and defended the castle fiercely, and it was not an easy fight; for they were well stocked with ammunition and supplies, which was the reason they held out so long.  However, in the end they were so besieged and so oppressed that they surrendered, saving their lives and their fortunes by retreating to Cherbourg. It was then that Jean de la Rivière seized the castle at Acquigny, and refurnished it with his own people, before leaving with his army through the streets of the village to the city of Evreux.” Chroniques de Froissart, T.1, Buchon edition, p. 329.

The Middle Ages

1378

  • Acquigny
  • Architectural

Destruction of the fortress

In 1378 King Charles V of France ordered the destruction of all the Norman fortresses that had belonged to Charles de Navarre, with the exception of Cherbourg, which the French were unable to seize.  The fortress at Acquigny was among those destroyed.

In 1378 King Charles V of France ordered the destruction of all the Norman fortresses that had belonged to Charles de Navarre, with the exception of Cherbourg, which the French were unable to seize.  The fortress at Acquigny was among those destroyed.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance

from the 15th to the 18th century

  • family

The le Roux d’Esneval family, owners of the Château d’Acquigny and important family in the Norman Parliament

In 1499, William le Roux was named counselor to the Exchequer of Normandy. When the Exchequer became the Parliament of Normandy in 1515, William II le Roux immediately bought the office of President.  These men were the first of a long familial line of parliamentarians, which continued until the dissolution of the Parliament in 1791. 

Robert le Roux, great-grandson of William the 1st and son of Claude (who purchased the Château d’Acquigny), inherited the barony d’Esneval and the Vidamé of Normandy from his maternal grandmother, under the condition that he would take on the name and the official arms.  He was henceforth known as Robert le Roux d’Esneval.  In the spirit of his forebears, Robert worked first as a counselor at Parliament.  He then became the King’s ambassador in Portugal and in Poland, where he died in 1693.  He was burried in the Krakow Cathedral.

Three generations of his direct descendants succeeded Robert le Roux d’Esneval as the President of the Parliament of Normandy: his son Anne Robert, known as President d’Esneval, from 1712 to 1741; his grandson Pierre Robert, known as Monsieur d’Acquigny, from 1741 to 1770; and his great-grandson Esprit, known as President d’Esneval, from 1770 to 1791, when the Parliament was dissolved.

The Renaissance

1550

  • Acquigny
  • Architectural

Construction of the Renaissance Château

The eternal love of Anne de Montmorency Laval, a cousin of the French king Henri II, for her husband Louis de Silly, Lord of La Roche-Guyon, was the inspiration for Philibert de l’Orme as he constructed the Château d’Acquigny in the form of their four interlaced initials: A.L.L.S.  The signs of their love appear everywhere: interlaced hands, which symbolize marital fidelity; ivy mixed with oak, which symbolizes long-lasting relationships…

These numerous symbols give Acquigny the nickname “the Château of love”.  In 1655, in the 9th stanza of his “Metamorphosis of the Nymphs of Acquigny”, the Abbot Nicolas Piedevant wrote:
Dans le grand pourpris de ce val,

La comtesse Anne de Laval

Bastit son chasteau de plaisance,

Si beau, si riche et glorieux

De l’art qui fait sa suffisance,

Que tout le plan en rit aux yeux.

 

In her sprawling estate around this hall,

The Countess Anne de Laval

Built her château of happiness,

So beautiful, so rich, and so glorious

That the entire architecture seems to play

With the art that for art’s sake it conveys

The Renaissance

End of the 16th century – beginning of the 17th century

  • park

creation of the park à la française

The park à la française, which was twice as large as the present-day Romantic-style garden, was centered at the time on the axis of symmetry of the château -the northwest/southeast diagonal of the moat of the former fortress.

  The central path of the park conserves the historical overlook that permitted the surveillance of navigation on the Eure (a view which still exists today).  Like the Romantic park of today, the park à la française followed the valley of the Eure and melded with the surrounding countryside.  A veritable tapestry of flowerbeds was rolled out before the grand façade of the château.  One axis of the park, still visible today along the line of the water canal near the Potager, ran perpendicularly up to the church.  Monsieur d’Acquigny restored it and added the walls of the kitchen garden as well as the orangery.

Age of the Enlightenment

Age of the Enlightenment

1716 - 1788

  • Acquigny
  • family
  • Architectural

Monsieur d’Acquigny, a great master-builder of Normandy

The “President à Mortier” of the Parliament of Normandy (1741-1770), Monsieur d’Acquigny received the appellation of “the holiest churchbuilder of the 18th century” by the Abbot Cochet.  He was a profoundly pious man, and launched a vast project to construct religious buildings all over Normandy. 

He built ten churches, the majority of which are listed.  The most beautiful of these churches are found at Acquigny, Grémonville, Bois Normand, and the Château d’Esneval at Pavilly (where he also constructed a hospital.)

As a master-builder, he began working on the Château at Acquigny in 1741.  He collaborated with the architect Charles Thibault as well as several great artists of the time, such as Lamine, Fouquet, and Jean-Baptiste Huet.  He built two new pavilion wings of the Château (1741), adorned the service-quarters-turned-stables, which then became carriage housing with a bull’s eye window, surrounded the Potager with high walls (1745), and built the orangery and the hermitage (1746 and 1774, respectively). He bought back the ruined Priory of Saint Mauxe and incorporated the remains of its church into a new chapel (1747).  From 1755 to 1783, he rebuilt the Church of Saint Cécile at Acquigny, adding two schools – one for boys, the other for girls – as well as teachers’ housing and the vicarage.  The ensemble of these buildings forms the plaza of the church of Acquigny.

In 1774, he chose to live the life of a hermit and retreated from the public eyes to “Petit château” attached to the church. This living arrangement permitted him to attend church services either from a hidden balcony in the parish church or a loggia in the chapel of Holly Ghost.  He spent the rest of his life either on retreat at the hermitage in accordance with the rule of the Trappist monks of the Abbey of Soligny or visiting poor local families to bring them spiritual, medical and financial comfort.

Age of the Enlightenment

1785 onwards

  • family
  • park

Creation of the landscaped park

President d’Esneval (1747-1791), who was a fine botanist in addition to his duties as President at the Parliament of Normandy, ordered the Romantic park to be redesigned in a curved pattern.  Unfortunately, however, the French Revolution and his own death put a stop to this plan. 

It was his second son Ange (Angel) Robert, mayor of Acquigny from 1801-1812, who returned to the project.  He finished the construction of the serpentine river, the rock path, and the grand waterfall, while at the same time continuing to plant trees.

The Great Century (1643 - 1656)

The Great Century (1643 - 1656)

1643

  • Acquigny

Sale of the Château to a relative of the Duke de Longueville

In 1643, the Gondi, descendants of Louis de Silly and Anne de Laval, sold the Château d’Acquigny to Anne le Blanc du Rollet.  Anne was a relative of the Duke de Longueville, a royal prince and the governor of Normandy, whose wife – who was known for being a bit of a rebel – tried unsuccessfully to rally Normandy during the Fronde (a civil war in 17th century France.)

In 1643, the Gondi, descendants of Louis de Silly and Anne de Laval, sold the Château d’Acquigny to Anne le Blanc du Rollet.  Anne was a relative of the Duke de Longueville, a royal prince and the governor of Normandy, whose wife – who was known for being a bit of a rebel – tried unsuccessfully to rally Normandy during the Fronde (a civil war in 17th century France.)

The Great Century (1643 - 1656)

1653 - 1656

  • Acquigny

The Duchess de Longueville in residence

A notorious anti-authoritarian, the Duchess de Longueville was assigned to live at Acquigny from 1653 to 1656, until she was authorized to return to court.  In a satirical poem from 1655, “The Metamorphosis of the Wood-Nymphs of the Forest of Acquigny into Salmon-Trout”, the Abbot Nicolas Piedevant alluded to the reconciliation between the Duke and the Duchess de Longueville that took place at Acquigny in 1654.

A notorious anti-authoritarian, the Duchess de Longueville was assigned to live at Acquigny from 1653 to 1656, until she was authorized to return to court.  In a satirical poem from 1655, “The Metamorphosis of the Wood-Nymphs of the Forest of Acquigny into Salmon-Trout”, the Abbot Nicolas Piedevant alluded to the reconciliation between the Duke and the Duchess de Longueville that took place at Acquigny in 1654.

The Great Century (1643 - 1656)

12 october 1656

  • Acquigny
  • family

Sale of the Château to Claude le Roux, forefather of the current owner

The Château was purchased in 1656 by Claude le Roux, counselor to the Parliament of Normandy and Lord of Becdal, Cambremont, and Mesnil Jourdain.  On August 12, 1644, he married Madeleine de Tournebu, the granddaughter of the royal prince Nicolas de Dreux, who was the heiress to the barony of Esneval and the Vidamé of Normandy.

The Château was purchased in 1656 by Claude le Roux, counselor to the Parliament of Normandy and Lord of Becdal, Cambremont, and Mesnil Jourdain.  On August 12, 1644, he married Madeleine de Tournebu, the granddaughter of the royal prince Nicolas de Dreux, who was the heiress to the barony of Esneval and the Vidamé of Normandy.

The Modern Era

The Modern Era

Around 1830

  • family
  • Architectural

Transformation of the interior of the Château

During the monumental restoration movement of the 19th century, Zénaïde d’Esneval, Countess du Manoir, commissioned Félix Duban to convert the interior of the Château to match the tastes of the day.  As a result, the original Renaissance decoration was unfortunately removed.  At the Museum of Beaux-Arts in Lyon, you can find the Château’s pilasters from the first quarter of the 16th century, sculpted in the Franco-Italian style and adorned with candelabras, vases, leaves, garlands, birds, dragons, and lizards.  The chimney and the Renaissance wood carvings that decorated the bedroom of Anne de Laval can now be found north of London at Waddesdon Manor, the former Château of Rothschild that now belongs to the National Trust. 

The Modern Era

1854

  • family

Roger du Manoir (1827 – 1888)

Son of Zénaïde le Roux d’Esneval, Countess du Manoir, he often went to the workshop of the “Barrière de Clichy.”. He was, along with Le Gray and Nadar, one of the founding members of the French Society of Photography in 1854 where,in 1857, he exhibited some of his artistic studies on “papier salé” (a special type of paper used for photography at the time).

Son of Zénaïde le Roux d’Esneval, Countess du Manoir, he often went to the workshop of the “Barrière de Clichy.”. He was, along with Le Gray and Nadar, one of the founding members of the French Society of Photography in 1854 where,in 1857, he exhibited some of his artistic studies on “papier salé” (a special type of paper used for photography at the time).

The Modern Era

1914 - 1918

  • park

Disappearance of the collection of 18th century orange trees

During World War One, the mobilization of men to the front left no one to heat the orangery, resulting in the orange trees freezing during the particularly brutal winter of 1917.

During World War One, the mobilization of men to the front left no one to heat the orangery, resulting in the orange trees freezing during the particularly brutal winter of 1917.

The Modern Era

1926

  • Architectural

The Château is listed in the National Inventory of Historical Monuments

The Modern Era

1939 - 1945

  • Acquigny

Occupation of the Château during World War Two

The Château and the park were consistently occupied by soldiers: first the English, then the Germans, the Russians (from the Vlassov army), then the Americans, Canadians, and English again.  These troops were equipped with tanks and armored cars, which completely tore up the park.  The interior of the Château was not spared either: after the war, for lack of glass in the windows, the children of the house hunted rabbits in the reception rooms.

The Château and the park were consistently occupied by soldiers: first the English, then the Germans, the Russians (from the Vlassov army), then the Americans, Canadians, and English again.  These troops were equipped with tanks and armored cars, which completely tore up the park.  The interior of the Château was not spared either: after the war, for lack of glass in the windows, the children of the house hunted rabbits in the reception rooms.

The Modern Era

1942 - 1945

  • Acquigny
  • family

Roger d’Esneval, a member of the French Resistance at Acquigny

Beginning in 1942, Roger d’Esneval participated in the Resistance network against the occupying Axis forces.  At Acquigny, the movement focused on providing intelligence to the Allied forces, notably regarding the transport of troops on the rail lines of Rouen and Caen. 

He was en liaison with his brother Pierre, the General d’Esneval, who was in London which “nom de guerre”, to hide himself during the war, was Jacques d’Infreville which has also been his writer name.

Beginning in 1943, the Resistance committed itself to saving the Allied aviators whose planes had been shot down by the DCA.  These soldiers were evacuated to London in Lysander airplanes, which made stealth nighttime landings on the nearby country fields of Acquigny.

The Modern Era

1946

  • Architectural

Registration of the château as a historical monument the Château is listed as a historical monument

The Modern Era

1946 - 1949

  • Acquigny
  • family
  • Architectural
  • park

Large-scale restoration of WWII damage

With World War Two over, the Château was liberated at Christmas time in 1945.  As soon as possible, Roger d’Esneval began the most urgent restorations: repairing the destroyed driveways and the leaky Château roofs. 

In June of 1947, he and his family were able to move into some rooms of the château in rough conditions.

From 1958 to 1969, with the aid of funds and war damages, the grand Renaissance roofs were restored.

1960 marked the first occasion after WWII that any new trees were planted in the park.

The Modern Era

since 1983

  • family
  • Architectural
  • park

Bertrand d’Esneval, a defender of his heritage

The eldest son of Roger, Bertrand d’Esneval took over the management of the estate in 1983.  He rapidly began the restoration of the former servants’ lodgings on the property.

In the early 1990s, he began large-scale restorations with the intention of opening the Estate to the public.  The opening took place very gradually from 1989 to 2002.  It started with just a few days per year, but the parks and gardens are now open to the public more than 110 days per year and are open for group tours every day.

The orangery and the roof of the orangery were restored in 2000.  In the service quarters, a welcome room for visitors was refitted in 2002. All the roofs were redone in 2006, and a large room for groups was finished in 2008.  The renovation of the vegetable garden began with the walls and the roofs in 2000, which was followed by the creation of flowerbeds in 2006.  After the 2011 restoration of the Romantic bridge, which had almost collapsed, a highly ambitious project began immediately: the restoration of the hydraulic system, including the crumbled 18th century dam upstream of the Potager.

For more than 350 years, the le Roux d’Esneval family has been the master of their property.  Through the restoration the Château and the park, the children of the present owner have also learned to love their heritage and to carry on their familial legacy.

The Modern Era

1993

  • Architectural

The entirety of the estate is listed as a historical monument, including the hydraulic system and the park and all the dependences

The Modern Era

2001

  • Architectural

The interior and exterior of the “Petit Château” is listed as a historical monument

The Modern Era

2014

  • park

Classification “Remarkable Ensemble of Trees”

Classification “Remarkable Ensemble of Trees” for the park, and “Remarkable Tree of France” for the pear tree in the potager, bearing 30 branches total.

Classification “Remarkable Ensemble of Trees” for the park, and “Remarkable Tree of France” for the pear tree in the potager, bearing 30 branches total.

The Modern Era

2015

  • park
Jardin Remarquable Acquigny

“Remarkable Garden”

Classification “Remarkable Garden”

Classification “Remarkable Garden”

  • Prehistory
  • The Roman Era
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance
  • Age of the Enlightenment
  • The Great Century (1643 - 1656)
  • The Modern Era

Information

- EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE PARK AND THE GARDENS OF THE CHÂTEAU -

Access

by car

GPS Details : 49.173 ; 1.187
Michelin Road Map, 304 Local, flod G6
A154 : exit Acquigny
A 13 : exit Louviers n°18
Info viamichelin or google maps

by train

Train stations: Evreux, Rouen and Val de Reuil

By bus

From Rouen and Evreux : http://www.vtni27.fr/

Opening hours

From the first Sunday of April to the last Sunday of October :

Weekends and Holidays 2 pm - 6 pm

From July 1st to August 31st: :

Everyday 2 pm -7 pm

Guided Tour around the Château at 3 pm and 4:30 pm

Plan at least one hour and 45 minutes to enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Two hours and a half is ideal.

You can visit the park and gardens, the “Salon du Midi”, the Orangery and and the cider-press house.

See all informations