Tuesday, 20 October 2020

The Grave in the Woods


There are lots of graves in the woods in the Touraine Loire Valley. Most of them date from the summer of 1944 and are the graves of Resistance fighters. But there is one that is different. It's virtually unknown and is a much grander affair than what you can glimpse above ground would lead you to believe.

The small isolated wood where the Porcherons are buried.
Woodland on the plateau between two river valleys.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

A few simple stones mark the entrance to a sealed mausoleum where the remains of artist Lucien Porcheron and his wife are buried. Lucien decorated the interior of the tomb and was buried there first. When her time came his wife joined him in the vault. According to a friend who lives nearby their beloved dog was supposed to be buried there too but there was no one left to organise it when the dog died. She says she thinks of them every time she walks by.

What you can see of the grave today.
Grave of Lucien Porcheron and his wife, near le Grand Pressigny.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

When I posted a photo of the grave on Facebook our friend, the artist Bryan Eccleshall immediately suggested the poem The Two Graves by William Cullen Bryant. So here it is.

On the Alert (an oil painting by Lucien Porcheron, depicting himself on the left, and Monsieur Hilaire on the right, out hunting probably in the very woods where he is now buried).
 Oil painting by Lucien Porcheron, showing himself and a local farmer out hunting.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


'Tis a bleak wild hill,--but green and bright
In the summer warmth and the mid-day light;
There's the hum of the bee and the chirp of the wren,
And the dash of the brook from the alder glen;
There's the sound of a bell from the scattered flock,
And the shade of the beech lies cool on the rock,
And fresh from the west is the free wind's breath,--
There is nothing here that speaks of death.

Far yonder, where orchards and gardens lie,
And dwellings cluster, 'tis there men die.
They are born, they die, and are buried near,
Where the populous grave-yard lightens the bier;
For strict and close are the ties that bind
In death the children of human-kind;
Yea, stricter and closer than those of life,--
'Tis a neighbourhood that knows no strife.
They are noiselessly gathered--friend and foe--
To the still and dark assemblies below:
Without a frown or a smile they meet,
Each pale and calm in his winding-sheet;
In that sullen home of peace and gloom,
Crowded, like guests in a banquet-room.

Yet there are graves in this lonely spot,
Two humble graves,--but I meet them not.
I have seen them,--eighteen years are past,
Since I found their place in the brambles last,--
The place where, fifty winters ago,
An aged man in his locks of snow,
And an aged matron, withered with years,
Were solemnly laid!--but not with tears.
For none, who sat by the light of their hearth,
Beheld their coffins covered with earth;
Their kindred were far, and their children dead,
When the funeral prayer was coldly said.

Two low green hillocks, two small gray stones,
Rose over the place that held their bones;
But the grassy hillocks are levelled again,
And the keenest eye might search in vain,
'Mong briers, and ferns, and paths of sheep,
For the spot where the aged couple sleep.

Yet well might they lay, beneath the soil
Of this lonely spot, that man of toil,
And trench the strong hard mould with the spade,
Where never before a grave was made;
For he hewed the dark old woods away,
And gave the virgin fields to the day;
And the gourd and the bean, beside his door,
Bloomed where their flowers ne'er opened before;
And the maize stood up; and the bearded rye
Bent low in the breath of an unknown sky.

'Tis said that when life is ended here,
The spirit is borne to a distant sphere;
That it visits its earthly home no more,
Nor looks on the haunts it loved before.
But why should the bodiless soul be sent
Far off, to a long, long banishment?
Talk not of the light and the living green!
It will pine for the dear familiar scene;
It will yearn, in that strange bright world, to behold
The rock and the stream it knew of old.

'Tis a cruel creed, believe it not!
Death to the good is a milder lot.
They are here,--they are here,--that harmless pair,
In the yellow sunshine and flowing air,
In the light cloud-shadows that slowly pass,
In the sounds that rise from the murmuring grass.
They sit where their humble cottage stood,
They walk by the waving edge of the wood,
And list to the long-accustomed flow
Of the brook that wets the rocks below.
Patient, and peaceful, and passionless,
As seasons on seasons swiftly press,
They watch, and wait, and linger around,
Till the day when their bodies shall leave the ground.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Rustic Pork and Bean Soup


Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Pork, white beans and cabbage. All very typical ingredients for a winter stew or soup in the Touraine. Very humble, fresh locally grown produce, simply cooked to provide a surprisingly delicious and comforting meal in under an hour.

Dried white beans, grown by my orchard neighbour.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

Ingredients:
500 g pork mince
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp chilli powder
An onion, chopped fairly small
A small green cabbage, shredded
A large tin of chopped tomatoes
A litre of chicken stock
1.5 cups cooked white beans
Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Lightly brown the mince in a soup boiler.
  2. Add the herbs, chilli and onion, and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the cabbage, tomatoes, stock and beans.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (I suggest about 1/2 tsp salt and half a dozen good turns of the pepper grinder).
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serves 8. (331 calories per serve).
 Preparing curly cabbage.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

The sausage mince I used is called chair à farci (stuffing flesh). It is usually seasoned with garlic and parsley and can be purchased from any local supermarket or butcher, especially in the summer, when it is used to stuff big tomatoes. The fresh vegetables came from my local organic market garden, Les Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière. They sell from the farm every Monday evening and at the market in Preuilly every Thursday morning. The tinned tomatoes are just standard supermarket fare.

Browning the pork mince and adding the onion.
Cooked and photographed by Susan from Loire Valley Time Travel. https://tourtheloire.com

The chicken stock came from poaching a chicken that was used for another recipe. The white beans came from the Aged One who grew them in his garden, dried and shelled them. In French they are called lingots or mogettes. There must be some difference between the two, but I've never worked out what it is. I soaked 500 g of beans for several hours, then simmered for 40 minutes in plain water. The excess that I didn't need for this recipe I divided into two lots and froze for later use.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Phantom Buildings

 

There has never been much money available for the restoration of Glengallan Homestead, near Warwick in Queensland, Australia. It doesn't get very high visitor numbers (about ten thousand a year), so the curators and the Trust which manages it have had to resort to creative solutions to present the property. At the back they have erected metal frames to signify the dimensions and position of outbuildings such as the kitchens. 

The rear of Glengallan Homestead, Queensland, Australia. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

In fact, due to the bankruptcy and subsequent death in a bush fire fighting horse riding accident of its builder John Deuchar, Glengallan was never completed. It remains a bit of mystery what the finished building would have looked like, so this tentative conservation approach is entirely appropriate.

At the time I took this photo, soon after it opened to the public in 2002, about two million Australian dollars had been spent on preparing the property for visitors. It is very visible if you travel the main road in that area, and many people visit because they have seen it from their car and are curious.

Although the building could be considered a white elephant, sending its builder broke and being unoccupied for more than half of its life, it offers a unique insight into the life of early pastoralists in Queensland.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Saturday, 17 October 2020

The Church at Moeze

The church at Moëze in the Charente-Maritime is a building of two distinct parts. The belfry is Gothic, but the rest of the church it was once attached to was destroyed in the Wars of Religion. It was a Catholic church, and the population of Moëze was strongly for Protestantism.

The church at Moeze, Charente-Maritime, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


The church was completely ruined during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century. Of this original building, only the bell tower remains. Judging by its architecture, the bell tower seems to belong to the 14th century and would have been constructed by the English. It consists of a square shaft with buttresses at the corners surmounted by triangular pediments and hooks. An eight-sided stone spire dominates it. It has hooks on the edges and a series of triangles on the openings. Four pointed belfries intersect the four corners. Four others similar to the first intersect the curve at the base of the spire on each side. At the bottom, an ogival border simulates a window. The spire was used to guide sailors to the entrance of the port of the island of Aix.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Friday, 16 October 2020

Domaine de la Groie

No longer officially known as a chateau, but two perimeter towers from the 15th century can be seen, as well as a grand 17th century gatehouse. The first written record of a chateau here, near Ingrandes in Vienne, is from 1425, when it was in the hands of the powerful Poitevin Aloigny family, close allies of a succession of kings and later given the territory around Le Blanc and the Chateau of Ingrandes in Indre. 

Grand gateway to Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Grand 17th century entrance gateway.

 

The castle belonged to the Viscount of Châtellerault (presumably one of the many titles held by the Aloigny family). The first castle was built at the end of the 14th century. The building was rebuilt in the middle of the 18th century, on a larger plan, while preserving and using the general lines of the previous buildings. On the site of the medieval castle, stables, sheds and communal areas were built around a rectangular courtyard with a large entrance door. Next to it, a master door led to the completely new pavilion. During the Revolution, the building was sold as a national asset and only ruins remained, as much of it was used as architectural salvage to construct several houses in Châtellerault. Of this ensemble, only the two corner towers of the 15th century enclosure, which flank the buildings to the east, remain. They appear to date from the 15th century and mark the end of the old enclosure on this side. They are machicolated, with narrow arrow slits. These 15th century buildings were vast and formed a right angle with the north tower at the top. There also remains a half-ruined watchtower, the entrance door, the outbuildings and stables, transformed into farm buildings and huge "fruit cellars".

Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
One of the 15th century towers.

 

The Aloigny (or Allogny as it is sometimes spelled) family sold the chateau in 1662 so it was the new owner who rebuilt the place. During the 19th century it was owned by a farming family and transformed into a farmhouse and agricultural buildings. The current owners, who are extensively restoring the chateau, bought it in 1995.

Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Domaine de la Groie, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Chateau de Forges

Jehan Tyrel de Poix was given the property that would become the Chateau de Forges in 1442 by Charles VII. Today the castle is again owned by the Tyrel de Poix family and offers accommodation. [Link]

Chateau de Forges, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

A manor house was constructed in the early 14th century on an outcrop overlooking the Anglin River. It became a castle when Jehan Tyrel de Poix was given permission to fortify it and it retains a very homogenous appearance although there is some later 17th century construction. It and the other castles from this period along the Anglin Valley were built to protect southern Berry from the English. There is a square keep with round corner towers, surrounded by a massive enclosure wall, also with round towers that contain many arrow slots, murder holes and other defensive features. Also in the complex is a chapel, stables, cellars, dovecote and guard house.

Chateau de Forges, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

In 1715 the descendants of the Tyrel de Poix family sold the castle and soon after it became the property of the Regent Philippe of Orléans' mistress Marie-Madeleine de la Vieuville. Described in French Wikipedia as 'belle et sulphureuse', she was financially ruined due to her lavish lifestyle, and by 1738 the castle had been acquired by Claude Dupin, one of Louis XV's stupendously wealthy tax farmers (more famous for being one of the owners of Chenonceau and being the great-grandfather of George Sand aka Aurore Dupin). He held other lands and castles around Le Blanc, in close proximity to Forges. After his family sold it, the castle finally returned to the Tyrel de Poix family, with the current owner's grandmother.

Chateau de Forges, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Chateau de Forges, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Cabane de vigne with Chateau de Forges in the background, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
An unusual round vine hut (Fr. cabane de vigne) with a fish scale tile roof in the foreground, Chateau de Forges in the background, across the river.

 The view immediately above is our first view of the castle, coming in to Concremiers, which is where we crossed the river to get over to the castle.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos.