Castle of Cherveux

Cherveux, France
     Isolated in the middle of a fertile plain on a verdant plateau rises the village of Cherveux where the view embraces the most distant horizons. Its name has a celtic origin.  The flint tools found on the plain bear witness to prehistoric inhabitation.

History of the castle
     The present castle is situated upon the site of the original fortress built by the Lusignans; no doubt about its ancient origin since it is said that the "Fairy Melusine" was its ancestor.
     In the Middle Ages, the Lusignan family became powerful, allowing one of its branches to ascend to the throne of Cyprus and Jerusalem at the beginning of the 13th century.
     Hugues XI de Lusignan fell out with St. Louis who seized Cherveux in 1242 and gave it to his brother Alphonse, Comte du Poitou.  Hugues proved his allegiance to his lord the king by accompanying him on the crusades. He died in a battle just after arriving in Egypt in 1249.
     The castle was given back to Hugues' descendants, then it passed into the hands of the Mello family, then the Craon family, and finally to that of Chalon. It was then taken by the English under the reign of Edward III in 1363 and was given to William of Felton, the Senechal of Poitou. After the conquest of the province by Duguesclin, Cherveux was returned to the Chalon family whence it passed to the Tremoille line who in turn sold it in 1457 to Armaury d'Etissac, lord of Coulonges les Royaux who yielded it to Jean de Naydes who in his turn sold it to the Chenin family.
     Their daughter Louise Chenin married Robert Conningham in May 1440.  Of Scottish origin, captain of the bodyguard of king (extremely well in court at Louis XI) Cunningham (or Conygham according to texts' of the BNF) had the means to erect the whole of the present castle in one single effort about 1470.
     Later, Cherveux was passed via successive marriages to the Puyguion and St. Gelais families.  Although it was a principle, formidable stronghold  it was, nevertheless, taken in 1569 by the Marquis of Lude who installed a garrison of swordsmen and then again in 1574 by the Duc of Montpensier.
     Until the 18th century it was held by the Plessis-Chatillon family who were succeeded by the Narbonne-Pelet family.
     It was confiscated by the nation of France and sold 3 years after the French Revolution to Pierre Aloneau.  Descendants of  Aloneau  (family Clouzot Meynier) preserved it until 1931 and sold it to Mr and Mrs REDIEN Lucien, whose family has restored and preserved the castle and farmed the land since 1912.
The castle was listed as an Historic Monument on September 16, 1929.

     One of the most beautiful features of the castle is the arrangement of the various buildings, which are joined, from the massive dungeon, by a succession of towers and turrets with cut-off corners. All together, they form a pentagonal composition, which is both tremendous and picturesque. In spite of its very ancient origin, the castle, several times ruined by wars, appears today much like it did in the second part of the 15th century. When the castle was originally built by Robert de Coningham a second surrounding wall reinforced with towers was constructed. This wall is no longer in existence.
     During the wars, the neighbouring inhabitants could get protection from enemies and settle down inside this surrounding shelter with their families, their furniture and their herds. In return for this protection, they had to help with repairs and to mount guard.

     Inside the castle a staircase allows you to reach the thick round tower that stands above the moat, which contains, on the first floor, the treasure room.  It's a small room, badly lit by a single loophole.  At the top of the ribbed vault are represented the Coningham's arms, "with the pairle" of Coningham (the pairle being the heraldic part in the form of a Y visible on this blazon).  Sculptures also decorate the angles : a woman, a monk, a bat and an owl.

From the Castle of Cherveux webpage - please visit their site for more photos and information. 


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