Rental Details for Château de Béduer
- Château de Béduer
- Rental Phrase
- Together with a number of holiday houses around the château, it can be rented for holidays, weddings or other special events.
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- Château de Béduer
The Château de Béduer is a 13th-century feudal castle in the commune of Béduer in the Lot département of France. The castle and its dependencies dominate the village of Béduer and overlook the valley of the River Célé. The buildings show evidence of construction from the 13th to 17th centuries with both Romanesque and 17th-century architecture. It is set in grounds of 40 acres.
The castle is privately owned. Together with a number of holiday houses around the château, it can be rented for holidays, weddings or other special events.
The château buildings date back to the 13th century, although earlier foundations have been found below the 13th-century construction. Of the medieval castle, little more than the general outline remains: a 'U' shape, open to the north. There was a fourth side to the square, possibly stables, which seems to have been demolished in the 18th century.
The keep, the oldest part of the building, dates back to 1204. It is a 25-metre-high rectangular tower, originally taller, losing its top floor after the Revolution. On an eight-metre-square base, its walls are two metres thick and give it an internal floor area of only four metres square.
To the north of the keep are the remains of the chapel, of which only the lower floors remain. The upper floor was demolished and replaced by a terrace during the Second World War.
To the east of the courtyard is the main building with its two-metre-thick outer walls demonstrating its medieval origins. Inside, La Grande Salle, two storeys in height, has a gallery running along two sides at first-floor level. The hall is notable for its 15th-century chimney (the upper part restored in the 19th century) and for its 17th-century painted ceiling. Two stone shields set into the chimney breast commemorate the marriage of Dordé de Béduer to Jeanne de Balzac of Montal in 1457. The hall is dominated by a huge 19th-century Venetian chandelier.
The front of the building has a beautiful embossed entrance (the shields at the top are 19th-century) showing the slots which formerly carried the chains to let down the drawbridge over a dry moat. The façade was classified as a monument historique in 1973.
Inside, the castle boasts three beautifully furnished main rooms plus the Grande Salle, a large, modern kitchen and first-floor kitchenette, several smaller private rooms together with nine bedrooms and seven bathrooms.
The château sits within a walled, partly wooded park with rose gardens, fruit trees and a large swimming pool tucked neatly out of sight of the château and is surrounded by its own 14 hectares (35 acres) of meadow land, where in the spring and summer sheep may safely graze.
The first authentic record of Béduer appears in the 11th century when a bull of Pope Urban II named the seigneur of Béduer as a defender of the Abbey of Figeac. The first seigneur of whose name we know was Deodat Barasc. He had usurped two churches belonging to the Abbey of Marcillac but on departing for the Holy Land left a will giving the churches back to the abbey, an obligation that, in the event, his sons simply ignored.
The Barascs of Béduer were a significant fighting family, defending their rights against more powerful neighbours while intimidating their weaker ones. They parlayed successfully to retain their lands and eleven châteaux during the Albigensian Crusade before changing sides to defend the County of Toulouse against the French king. In 1277, they offered the people of Béduer one of the earliest charters in France to loosen the hold of the feudal system.
The Barascs made their mark during the Hundred Years' War against the English, leading successful campaigns against the garrison at Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and successfully defending Cahors against Edward, the Black Prince. On three occasions the Estates General of Quercy met in the Grande Salle of the château.
As loyal Catholics, the Barascs defended their château against the Protestants in the Wars of Religion in the 16th century until the death of the last of their line, Deodat VIII in 1559.
The Barascs had chosen an excellent site for their castle. Built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the valley of the River Célé with high walls on three sides and a dry moat on the other, it was easily defended, and has a commanding view of all who passed along the valley: from the pilgrims and war parties of the Middle Ages, to the tourists and commuters of today.
The earliest entrance to the castle was below what became the chapel which dates, like the main tower, from the 13th century. The main buildings across the courtyard however date from the 15th and 17th centuries.
It was the Lostange family who had acquired the château in 1604 that converted the castle from a château-fort to a country home suitable for a noble family. The painted ceiling in the Grande Salle dates from the early 17th century as does the kitchen on the ground floor below the second tower, rebuilt during the same period. The entrance porch bears the coat of arms of the Lostanges.
The Lostanges were a military family and after the acquisition of Béduer the Seigneur, Jean-Louis de Lostange was elevated to Viscount. His grandson became the Seneschal of Quercy, the king's representative in 1775 and at a time of growing unrest in the country in 1786, called a meeting of the Estates General of Quercy in Cahors in an attempt to introduce concessions. But it was too late.
The French Revolution caused few ripples in Béduer. A fairly liberal gentleman, the Marquis de Lostanges was well enough liked by the local peasantry that he managed to retain his château, his title and his head at the revolution. His cousin became the first mayor of Figeac once the dust had settled. The only casualty of the revolution was the château tower, which following an edict to demolish any structure that could be used by counter-revolutionaries, was decapitated in about 1790.
By the early 19th century the Lostanges were spending very little time at Béduer and in 1874 they sold or let the château to a religious order from Villefranche-de-Rouergue. The nuns opened a school for the village children in the crypt but they finally went bankrupt, the château reverted to the Lostanges, and was finally sold to Colrat de Montrozier in 1886. He had married a young lady from Figeac who wanted to be near her family.
Colrat was deeply traditional and conservative, dismayed by the radical attitudes he found in the Lot. Every morning he would ride to Faycelles to gaze across the river to his beloved Aveyron with its respectful, God-fearing Catholic population. Colrat had three children. His elder daughter married a young man from Nantes in 1886, who brought his best friend, Maurice Fenaille to Béduer as his best man. Fenaille fell in love with the region, with Béduer, and with the younger daughter Eugénie whom he married the following year.
Maurice Fenaille had made his fortune in the oil industry. A truly remarkable man, an art lover, collector and philanthropist, he used his wealth to great good effect.
The départements of the Lot and Aveyron had remained primarily agricultural and by the second half of the 19th century, agricultural depression led to rural depopulation and a drift to the industrial cities. The population of Béduer fell from 1500 to just 500 between 1850 and 1950, the decline accelerated by the two world wars which cost the lives of many of its young men.
Worried by the poverty and rural depopulation, Fenaille set up a textile factory and an agricultural college in Aveyron and founded the museum in Rodez that bears his name. He discovered and restored to its former glory the Renaissance Château de Montal near Saint-Céré, travelling the world buying and bringing back its lost stonework. In 1908, he reached an agreement with The Louvre that they woul...