Saturday, 21 November 2015

Old Farmhouse

Parts of this old farm complex have seen better days, but the 15th century farmhouse itself has been lovingly restored by its current owners.

 The farmers must have been making their own wine from a little parcel of vines within living memory, but it has been abandoned now. The adjacent fruit tree is covered in mistletoe too.
The buildings show that this was no peasant farm, but minor aristocracy. Built into the walls of the house are 42 niches for pigeons. To be raising squab (baby pigeon) for the table meant that the king had given you permission to set aside some of your staple crop of cereals to feed a luxury crop, pigeons. You had to be able to demonstrate that you had enough land to produce sufficient cereal that you and your farm workers would not go hungry if the pigeons ate some of your cereal.

The main farmhouse, with its charming architectural details of ogee shaped lintels, mullions and boulins (pigeon niches).
 The other side of the main range.
 Outbuildings in various states of repair.

8 comments:

  1. Are you going to restore it? I hope so; it would be so fascinating to watch!!
    Jocelyn

    ReplyDelete
  2. I didn't know the special significance of those pigeon holes until now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you couldn't just raise pigeons on a whim. You were told how many niches you were allowed, based on how much land you had.

      Delete
  3. My first house in France had originally been the home farm for the nearby monastery: it had the estate bread oven - and the niches for pigeons.

    I see it is currently up for sale....and somewhere between when I sold it and now some bright spark filled them in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wonder if this place was originally the monastery farm. It was certainly minor aristocracy in the 17th C, but the farmhouse dates from the 15th and there was a huge monastery nearby which has now completely disappeared.

      You have to wonder about someone who took the trouble of filling the boulins in and wasn't interested in or aware of their historical detail and the charm they add to a building.

      Delete
    2. I don't think it was the family to whom I sold it...the son was a builder who had a lot of contracts with the National Trust and they were interested in the history of the place. I lost touch but did hear that the father died and they did not use the house as much as they would have wished so sold it on.
      I'd strongly suspect the current owner....right in the entrance to what was a harmonious group of buildings they have put up a huge blockhouse style garage for seven cars - blasted Philistines! - while from what I see of the photographs of the interior they have turned it into a tart's boudoir.

      Any idea when the monastery disappeared? There seem to have been several reform movements and royal interventions down the centuries.

      Delete
    3. I've just checked -- it was a priory, not a monastery in fact. It was sold off during the Revolution and was demolished in 1974. Not much is known about it because the archive was destroyed in 1943.

      Delete