The History of Chateau Lagorce

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Castle Lagorce, formally known as "noble house of the large gorce" is one of the most important buildings of heritage in Haux. The building has been sympathetically restored throughout, together with the grounds to make it a welcoming and pleasurable space.  The castle acquired it's name "Lagorce" or "The Great Gorce", from a type of vegetation which appeared at the beginning of the XVI century.


According to a document from the 1700s, the castle originally had a moat. The oldest tower has walls 1.2 metres thick, and both of these features helped it to defend itself, as it became embroiled in feudal wars during the XIV, XV and XVI centuries. Unfortunately, the residence was partly destroyed during the latter 2 of these centuries.

 
It is difficult to know who owned what during the XV century, as the land was a source of revenue for noble families, and it changed hands with regularity as marriages took place. The FAUGERES family, lords of Lagorce since at least 1516 did not escape this rule. Bonnaventure de FAUGERES claimed to hold the rights to the Great Gorce and initiated proceedings against his brother (or brother-in-law), Estienne DUMENILH de FAUGERES. The claims were founded, as in June 1599, Lord DUMENILH gave him 16,500 pounds in payment for his rights. He was not successful in his business, and Bonnaventure seized the profit from his rent and from his agricultural activities, and in 1607 recuperated the whole of the property.

It was a short-lived battle for the ownership of the property because in 1621 and 1629, Estienne DUMENILHwas still, let's say, "living" at Lagorce, whereas in 1636, another family was found to be living there; that of Menard de Maonaudon, married toMarguerite de CURSOL. At the time of their installation at Lagorce, they accomplished major work on the property. In effect, all of the standing buildings are of the style of this epoch. However, their signature is preserved in a key-stone in the form of a coat-of-arms uniting the Montandon and CURSOL family. On the walls, the date 1643, reflects this time of restoration.

 

The next period was a successful one, and when examining the works of the successive proprietors descending from Menaud DE MONTAUDON, it is plain to see that money was no object. But, however magnificent the property was, a country residence would never take priority in the spending patterns of the noble families, who preferred to reside in their townhouses.


A description in November 1700 emphasized this:


"After Augier de MONTAUDON died without issue, his son and his spouse, Denise de Pichard 'who had fallen in love with Lagorce' lived there for a further eight years. Their nephews, Jean (priest) and Jeanne (spouse of Pierre DALY) were the proprietors."


So that they did not need to undertake any work on the house, these two refused to accept that the property was in a bad state, which forced Denise de Pichard to invite Master Duroy to the house to undertake an Inventory of the property.
So, on 30 October 1700 at 8 o'clock in the morning, the nephews were called upon to witness this Inventory being taken place. However, they waited for three hours and the nephews did not turn up. So they gave up and went ahead without them. The inventory took a number of days.


Within this description, it states that "the house, the farm, the mill house, the borders, the wine storehouse and the dwellings were all in clear ruin."

Each building was detailed, as well as the actual castle, the mill house, the farm of HEREYRE (some sections of the wall still remain in the woods between Lagorce and Regis) and the noble house of CHAUMONT which then formed part of this area - the whole place was a sorry state in 1700!


A new inventory was drawn up on 3 May 1741 after the death of Francois DALY. It didn't mention the state of the building, which appeared to be in order, but on the other hand, the furniture was described piece by piece.


For example in one room:


"A bedstead, a feather mattress, two wool mattresses, a white woollen blanket, an Indian counterpane, curtains made out of a red taffeta fabric lined in blue and white, and embroidered with a silk fringe in the same ancient-looking colour…"
In the bakers:
A big copper boiler, two iron, an ugly yellow copper basin, a sieve for the flour, silk cloth, a table which was used for kneading the dough, a tray for leaving the bread to rise, a great iron pot.
In the cellar: four big wine presses…"


Under the revolution in 1793, Francois GALATHEAU sold Lagorce to a businessman from Bordeaux for 230,000 pounds of which 75,000 was a banknote during the French revolution (money full of empty promises) and 3,000 pounds for a pot of wine for the businessman who drew the money and counted it. This businessman was used only as an intermediary for Hyacinthe FEGER, whose nephew, Pierre resold the property in 1802 "in a very bad state" for 32,000F to Elie FAUX, a local, a wine producer, and whose grandfather was a cooper in Tourne.


This same Elie FAUX bought La Peyruche for a further 32,000 F in 1811. But he was a little too greedy and had to sell it the next year before he had even finished paying for it. According to her grandmother, Elie was the cousin of Baron RATEAU, who built a beautiful residence in the same epoch, which was located west of the church of High Langoiran.
And to top it off, one of his young nieces was godmother to Leonie Abaut whose husband would in 1882 buy back La Peyruche… And one of his nephews was the godfather to Arthur Abaut who would buy the aforementioned residence in High Langoiran.
 
But, let us return to Lagorce, where, thanks to the FAUX family, the first half of the XIX century was successful for the vineyards. The family undertook important excavation works and planted Barsac and Sauternes vines. Therefore the price of a tonne of wine reached 900F in 1858, compared to 250-600F for the other best wines in Haux.
In 1868 in the yearly wine book, the famous FERRET stated that his wines sold at twice the price of other wines in the commune, because of its high quality.  In 1874, this same FERRET mentioned that castle de Lagorce was a different Yquem and that the wine had exceptional quality.


With 8 tonnes of red wine and 60 tonnes of white wine, it was the biggest producer in the Commune.
Elie FAUX had 6 children. On her death in 1824, the property was shared out between three of her daughters who had remained single. These three misses managed and directed the property. It wasn't until 1855 that they decided to retire when they took this opportunity to draw up a description of the resources of their property.

 

Apart from the purely viticultural revenues, other interesting facts include:

  • Wheat, potato, and fodder farming over about 15 hectors.

  • 6 hectors of Prairie which produced 15 to 16 carts of hay

  • The farming of the mill house for 900F a year

  • 4 stonemasons were employed during the winter months and 8 for the rest of the year. This attracted revenues of 4,000F a year.

  • There were also a pair of cows, a mare and an ass.
    There was also a wagon/cart/carriage which was quite modern and in good condition.

 

However, the sale of the property was jeopardised by plans to construct a road through Lagorce, and the ladies were extremely worried that a considerable value of their property would be lost. They wrote to the Prefect proposing different plans for the road, remarking that "the embankment work of about 6 metres…would destroy many young vines, and would deprive the small valley of air and sunlight."
But the work was in vain, the road was built…and the property was sold for 180,000F!
 

The sale took place in 31 August 1859, to Jules BEYSSAC . After his death in 1895, and that of his wife in 1905, his children had joint possession at Lagorce.  In 1921, the eldest son, Jean, who married Fanny Salles, daughter of a rich ship owner in Marseille bought the property for his sisters, Mrs Gauzence de Lastours, Mrs Aries and Mrs Moriette and for his nephew Edmond Lanoire. He died in 1928. His wife, his children and grandchildren lived there for a further 28 years, before having to leave from this house which was filled with family memories.


After the house was briefly passed onto the BURETTE family, the BAUDIER family had the house until 2002. Once again the house was in ill repair as well as the vines. The Holmes family have been caring for Chateau Lagorce ever since.

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