Château de Bagnols

History

The history of the Château de Bagnols, which is today classified "Historic Monument", spans several centuries. This fortification, which has witnessed eight centuries of history, has been enriched after each change of owner, finally becoming the country residence that it is today.

THE LORDS OF OINGT

The Château de Bagnols was built on the lands of the Lords of Oingt in the heart of the Beaujolais vineyards and the Monts du Lyonnais. In 1217, Guichard d’Oingt, a powerful lord in the Beaujolais region, undertook the construction of a vast Château which, in size, is the equal of the largest buildings of the Aristocracy and the Clergy. It is during this era that work was started on building the Château, its fortifications and its moat. it was designed to look out over the valley, and from its towers, watch could be kept over the whole of the surrounding region. This key date lent its name to the Château de Bagnols' current gourmet restaurant, The 1217.

THE ALBON LORDS

Eléonore, the granddaughter of Guichard d’Oingt, married Guillaume d’Albon in 1288 and this illustrious family took over the fiefdoms of Bagnols which it then controlled for 6 generations.

Towards the middle of the XIVth century, the region fell victim to numerous disasters - floods, climate disorders, epidemics, followed by their lots of misery and famine. In 1337, war broke out, marauding bands of looters criss-crossed the region, spreading disorder and terror. Churches were abandoned and villages deserted.

THE BALZAC LORDS

In 1453, the marriage of Jeanne d’Albon and Rauffec de Balsac places the Château under this family's coat of arms. This is when the North tower was built incorporating embrasures to strengthen the Château's defences.

Geoffroy de Balzac, son of Rauffec, was raised at court, he was first a page before becoming advisor to King Charles VIII, whom he received in his Château de Bagnols in October 1490 when the King was just 20. To commemorate his visit, a crown was cut in the stone on the fireplace of the Salle des Gardes. This visit was a supreme honour that marked a page in the history of the Château. Geoffrey de Balzac later married Claude Leviste, who is thought to be the lady from the famous "Lady and the Unicorn" tapestries.

THE CHABANNES LORDS

Claude then married a relative, Jean de Chabannes, who took possession of her estate. The Bagnols lands were subsequently sold in 1566 to Jehan Camus and his sons.

THE CAMUS LORDS

This family occupied Bagnols for 3 generations until 1619, date on which the domain was sold to Gaspard Dugué.

THE DUGUÉ LORDS

In the XVIIth century the Château became the favourite residence of the Dugué family that created numerous decorations in Bagnols. The Dugués were connected by marriage to the marquise de Sévigné, who mentioned her visits to the Château in her voluminous correspondence.

Gaspard Dugué carried out major repair work. He employed a master of water to bring water to the Château from the pond in the lower courtyard to the cast iron taps in the kitchen. Gaspard was the first owner of Bagnols to make it his main residence. He invested large amounts of money to glorify it by reinforcing its defensive character, symbol of its power and its nobility.

THE HESSELER LORDS

In 1711, Barthélémy Joseph Hesseler purchased "the Seigneury and Barony of Bagnols". He maintained it carefully and embellished it, to do this he hired François Aricor. This period saw the end of certain defensive elements (machicolation, bartizan, drawbridge counterpoise…).

THE CROPPET DE VARISSAN LORDS

Barthélémy's daughter, Marie-Anne, married Jean-Baptiste Croppet de Varissan who owned Bagnols from 1751 to 1782. At the time of his death the Domaine de Bagnols was estimated to be worth 600,000 pounds, including 19,000 for the furniture and ornaments.

THE SAINT TRY LORDS

Claudine Barthélémy inherited the Château on the death of her father. She married a friend of the family, owner of the Château de Saint-Try and numerous other domains. In 1796, the Domaine de Bagnols was broken up to be sold.

THE CHAVANIS LORDS

Claude Chavanis bought the Château for 160,000 pounds. Bagnols then underwent further developments over the second half of the XVIIIth century.

The French Revolution did not cause too much damage to Bagnols. Only the large towers, symbols of the power of the seigneurs, were said to have been destroyed during this period, along with a number of crests. Because it was used as a revolutionary council hall, and because the judge lived there, the Château was saved from destruction. In fact, the Salle des Gardes served as a meeting place for revolutionaries.

At the death of Claude Chavanis, her son Auguste inherited the Château. He considered his land of Bagnols to be a wine-growing holding, he bought vineyards and built the vast vat room.

THE JOUFFRAY LORDS

Françoise Anne Julie Chavanis inherited the Château from her father. She was married at the time to Jean Antoine Morand de Jouffray, descendant of the famous architect Jean Antoine Morand, creator of the Brotteaux district in Lyon and who was hanged during the Revolution. Their daughter Amélie Morand de Jouffray inherited Bagnols in 1881.

THE CHEVALARD LORDS

Jules Lucien Souchon du Chevalard, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur and Prefect of the Ardèche married Amélie Morand and became the owner of Bagnols. In 1899, their daughter Antoinette gave the Château as dowry to Count Joseph Boutechoux de Chavanes.

THE CHAVANNES LORDS

They had three children, one of whom was Marie Antoinette, the owner of the Château until 1980. In 1940, during the Second World War, the treasures of the Saint-Jean Cathedral were transferred to the Château in order to protect them from the bombings. The Salle des Tonneaux thus served as place of protection to save the heritage of the town of Lyon.

The Château was abandoned and slowly decayed, its owner only occupying the apartments on the ground floor, in the West wing during the summer months. The condition of the main building was critical, the roof collapsed in a number of places, the walls developed cracks. One by one the roofs fell in - those of the outhouses first, followed by those of the vat room which, already weakened by infiltrations of rainwater, collapsed due to the "supersonic boom" caused by an airplane in 1970.

MR ROCHE

In 1980, Mr Roche bought the Château from the descendants of Madame Boutechoux de Chavanes. He sold it seven years later, in 1987, to Paul and Helen Hamlyn.

PAUL & LADY HAMLYN

The passion of Paul and Helen Hamlyn for this region of France was the motivation behind their decision to acquire the Château de Bagnols. The Hamlyns subsequently devoted a large part of their time to bringing the Château back to life, whilst retaining its historic character and its venerable appearance.

Four years of meticulous and faithful restoration were needed to restore this building to its former glory. The Hamlyn's architect, Tom Wilson, took charge of the work using the most advanced and often innovative techniques, to consolidate the building and install new services whilst retaining its traditional features.

The building was rescued from years of abandon to rise again in its new role, in 1992, namely that of an elegant 4-star luxury hotel-restaurant which has won the admiration of the rich and famous.

GROUPE VON ESSEN HOTEL

From 2007 to 2012, the Château was owned by Groupe Von Essen Hotels.

JEAN-CLAUDE LAVOREL

In June 2012, after it was put up for sale, the Château de Bagnols was acquired by an entrepreneur from Lyon, Jean-Claude Lavorel, CEO of the Lavorel Group. The Château was then incorporated into Lavorel Hotels, the hotel subsidiary of Groupe Lavorel.

Major changes were implemented at the initiative of the new owner, who oversaw the construction of a majestic glazed roof over the inner courtyard. This was followed by the opening of a luxury spa, a gym fitted with state-of-the-art equipment, and a "beauty farm" area. Finally, 6 new contemporary suites were opened following development work carried out in the old vat room.

The twenty-seven suites have now been named after the famous people who contributed to the Château's glorious past: Guichard d’Oingt Suite, Honoré de Balzac Suite, Madame de Sévigné Suite, to mention but a few.

The Château de Bagnols is now the new 5-star establishment of the département. Atout France awarded it its fifth star on 1 July 2013.