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LE GRENIER AND CHARPENTE DU TOIT
Although the château remains a privately owned and is not, as an establishment registered as national monument. Because of their uniqueness, however, the attic (le grenier) and the wooden support structure of the roof (charpente du toit) are listed as such.
As with any home, the attic has been used as a place to store “stuff” no wanted or used anymore. Such as vast space as that of the chateau’s attic could collect an equally huge amount of unwanted stuff. However, at the beginning of WWII, the grandmother of the current Marquis emptied the space of rubbish, and installed, instead a hospital. Initially, this was for soldiers from the Region who had been wounded in the early battles of the war.
Following the occupation of France by Germany and the establishment of the Vichy Regime, the attic continued as a military hospital, treating returning soldiers wounded in the campaigns in the French Colonies, against the Free French Army. However, at the same time, the medical staff was secretly treating wounded members of the Resistance; which became increasingly active in the Region.
Because of the needs for greater hygiene, the first water-flushed lavatory installed anywhere in the chateau, can be seen in the bathrooms of the attic-hospital.
The attic also holds the 18th century mechanism of the clock, whose face can be seen from the courtyard.
The Roof and its Structure.
Viewing the northern façade from outside the chateau, the roof-line looks intriguingly like the upturned hull of a boat. This is reputedly due to the fact that the 18th century artisans employed to renovate the roof of such huge size, were in fact ship-wrights, rather than “charpentiers”. They were more used to crafting and assembling great beams of hard-wood to build commercial boats and “men-of-war” than they were experienced at putting roofs on barns or even castles!
From inside le grenier, it can be seen that the complex wooden structure supporting the roof is made of la châtaigne or chestnut, harvested locally from the Bonneval estates. Being of the same family as oak, its wood contains many tannins. This renders châtaigne wood very durable; gives it excellent natural resistance to weather, dampness and insect infestation; and saves the need for other protection treatment against fungus or rot. These tannins also ensure that iron nails, bolts and ties placed châtaigne wood all corrode very slowly.