order of construction

A look back at the past seasons...

1997: breaking ground

Clearing the site © Guédelon

In 1997, work on the site begins but it is was still not open to the public. The first ten-man team begins work.

  • The site is cleared in readiness for the future castle (vegetation removal, ground preparation, tidying up the site etc.)
  • The first workshops and the visitors' entrance barn are built
  • The castle's perimeter is laid out

1998: the site opens to the public

The site's official inauguration © Guédelon

The site opens to the public in May 1998 in appalling weather conditions.

  • the workforce is strengthened by the arrival of an additional 20 members of staff.
  • the whole of the castle's perimeter (towers and curtain walls) are built up to 1 metre high.

1999 - 2000: bridging the gap

The fixed bridge's abutment © Guédelon

1999:

  • the castle's perimeter walls continue to grow; NB the base of the curtain walls and the towers' battered scarps are over 3 metres thick
  • first modification of the original plans: on the southern curtain wall, the square corner towers are transformed into cylindrical towers
  • the western curtain wall is built up to a height of 3 metres
  • construction of the cupola of the water cistern in the Chapel Tower's basement

2000:

  • work on the chapel tower's ground-floor guardroom gets under way, including the masonry on the 3 arrowloops and the dressing of the corbels for the cross-ribbed vault
  • dressing and fixing of the first steps of the Chapel Tower's spiral stair; NB the first three steps are in ferruginous sandstone, the rest in limestone. Sandstone is used on the lower steps because it is less water-permable than limestone
  • masonry of the fixed bridge's stone abutment completed
  • the carpenters made and assembled the centring in the Chapel Tower, in order to position the vault's masonry

2001 - 2002: the first cross-rib vault

The cross-rib vault on the Chapel Tower's ground floor - © Guédelon - Ph. Guédelon

2001:

  • completion of the water cistern in the chapel tower's basement
  • the second cistern - in the great tower's cellar - is built
  • in the courtyard, the well's enormous monolithic curb stone is put in place. The curb weighs nearly one and a half tonnes.
  • the fixed bridge's piers and roadway are assembled
  • the curtain walls continue to gain height

2002:

2002 was a year of intense emotion with the realisation of the castle's first engineered structure: the chapel tower's cross-ribbed vault.

  • construction of the limestone vault's 6 ribs; each rib is made up of 1 corbel and 8 voussoirs, the vault is crowned by the keystone
  • 24 steps of the spiral stair are installed
  • work on the postern gate begins
  • the whole of the castle's perimeter reaches 3 metres in height

2003 - 2004: home on the range

The North Range under construction -  © Guédelon - Ph. Guédelon

2003:

  • work on the postern gate continues with the building of its steeply battered roof
  • the woodcutters and carpenters build the centring to support the masonry of the groin vault in the great tower's cellar
  • construction of the great tower's basement groin vault
  • the carpenters build 2 "squirrel cages" (treadwheel winches)
  • construction, in the forest, of the dyer-house: a timber-framed house with wattle and daub walls and a roof of oak shakes

2004:

  • in the courtyard, work on the north range gets underway. On the ground floor are the kitchen and a large storeroom, which will serve as a larder. During this season, the team build up the southern "eaves" wall; the eastern gable wall by a cubit (50cm) and work starts on the 4 doorways on the North Range's ground floor
  • the first steps of the external stairs - le grand degré - leading to the north range's first floor are built
  • on the Great Tower, construction of a pointed-arch doorway and 5 arrowloops; the 3-m-thick walls of the tower's outer walls grew higher

2005: a second cross-rib vault

The cross-rib vault on the ground floor of the Great Tower © Guédelon Ph. F. Folcher

2005:

  •  work continued on the North Range: the walls are now 2 m-high
  •  the entrance to the cellar, which also forms a passage under the external stairs, is constructed; two segmented arches form the entrance
  •  in the kitchen, work began on the masonry forming the hooded fireplace.
  •  tdhe woodcutters and carpenters square off the 6 enormous oak purlins which will support the North Range's first floor
  • in the Great Tower, construction of the enormous sandstone cross-ribbed vault took place: 6 ribs, 96 voussoirs and 120 tonnes of stone and masonry suspended above the vault
  • by the autumn of 2005, the Great Tower reaches a 10- height - roughly a third of its final height

2006: the North Range's ground floor is complete

Hoisting purlins © Guédelon

2006:

  • the North Range's ground floor was finished. The walls stood 4.2 metres high
  • in the kitchen, the fireplace and the bread oven were completed: the pyramidal hood came up to the level of the first floor
  • in the cellar, 3 lights (rectangular openings fitted with forged grilles) were built to allow some daylight into this vast space
  • the grand degré (the external stair) was fitted with a banister of moulded stones and a 4 m-high flight of steps. The North Range's 6 enormous purlins,each weighing 800kg and 7m long, were hoisted onto the North Range's first floor. 
  • the masonry on the southern façade, and the northern curtain wall onto which the range is built, were left, temporarily, as a "stairway"; the purlins were then rolled up the sloping masonry, and thus hoisted onto the north range's first floor. They were then stocked at the western end, whilst the mason-layers finished the ground floor's walls
  • the woodcutters and carpenters built the lean-to which links the chapel tower and the north range's west gable wall. This lean-to was completely roofed with oak shakes (split wooden roof tiles)

2007: the Great Hall rises

The 1st floor of the North Range takes shape © Guédelon

2007:

  • the beams were distributed above the range's ground-floor. Temporary floorboards were fitted to allow building work to continue and to provide access for visitors.
  • work on the North Range's first floor got underway. The first floor will house the great hall - the aula - and an antechamber. Four limestone two-light windows will be set in the southern façade, and a further one on the western gable end.
  • work began on the small antechamber at the far end of the Great Hall. Built over the kitchen, the masonry on the western gable wall was built and the first two-light window were installed.

2008: raising the roof timbers

Raising the first roof timbers © Guédelon

2008:

  • the walls of the Great Hall grew. The masonry of the 4 two-light windows was completed; the window on the west gable was pierced with a sculpted quatrefoil. The Great Hall's entrance and the door onto the northern curtain wall's wall-walk were built.  Work started on the fireplace.
  • in the antechamber, the masonry of the load-bearing partition wall, separating the antechamber and the great hall, was started; as was the antechamber's fireplace and the door leading into the aula. The masonry on the east gable was finished in readiness for the fitting of the first roof truss.
  • at the end of the 2008 season, the carpenters assembled the first roof timbers. In total there 47 oak trusses will be raised.  In 2008, the rafters of the 9 trusses above the antechamber were assembled; battens were fixed in place and the tiles were positioned.
  • on the northern curtain wall, work began on the crenellated wall-walk. The corbelling of the garderobe, on the castle's north side, was fixed in position.
  • on the great tower, in the first floor lord's chamber, the walls grew by 1m; a start was made on the stone window seat and the fireplace.

2009: the first fireplaces are in service

The kitchen's chimney stack © Guédelon

2009:

  • in the north range, the load-bearing partition wall was built. The antechamber's fireplace – hood, flue and chimney stack – was built. The kitchen's flue and chimney stack were also built. The carpenters hewed, assembled and raised two more bays of roof timbers above the great hall. At the close of the season, a bay was covered with the tiles made and fired by the tilers.
  • on the 1st floor (US = 2nd floor) of the great tower: in the lord's chamber, work began on the masonry of the window seats and the pointed-arch window itself. A team of masons worked on the doorway and corridor which leads onto the wall walk. Decorative strap hinges, forged by the site's blacksmiths, were fixed to the door. The chamber's 1st loop and garderobe were completed.
  • on the wall walk, work continued on three more crenels. The carpenters made the wooden structure which covers the passage linking the great tower and the wall walk.
  • on the east curtain wall, the work of building up the wall against the great tower, on hold since 2005, began again.

2010: building work on North Range is completed

The completed North Range © Guédelon

2010:

  • the carpenters hewed, assembled and raised the North Range's final roof timbers. The entire southern slope of the roof was covered with tiles
  • a team of masons brought part of the east curtain wall up to 5m above the courtyard
  • on the great tower: work began on the construction of a cross ribbed vault which will eventually cover the lord's chamber on the first floor; the banker masons dressed the keystone and 84 voussoirs in limestone; a team of masons laid the corbels and stones from which the ribs of the vault will spring.
  • the carpenters assembled the wooden centring which will support the vault's ribs and webbing during its construction. Work continued on the fireplace with the building of the jambs, the hewing and positioning of the oak lintel and the fixing of the stones which will tie in the fireplace's hood.

2011: the castle's largest vault is brought under load

The castles's largest cross-rib vault © Guédelon Ph. C Guérard

2011:

  • the 2011 season was marked by the completion of the castle's largest vault on the 1st floor of the Great Tower: 150 tonnes of stone and mortar were brought under load and the thrust of 25 tonnes was distributed by the vaults's 6 ribs
  • 2011 was also marked by work beginning again on the second part of the curtain wall and the eastern corner tower
  • a new piece of lifting machinery arrived on site: the site, already equipped with a two single-drummed treadwheel winches, saw the installation of a powerful double-drummed "squirrel cage". Situated directly on the eastern curtain wall, this new piece of machinery made it possible to hoist materials from the base of the ditch up to the workers building the cross-rib vault on the Great Tower's first floor

2012: the first mural paintings

Mural paintings in the North Range © Guédelon Ph. C Duchemin

2012:

2012 was the year in which colour exploded into the castle. With a number of rooms within the castle completed, or nearing completion, a new set of skills were needed to decorate them. The first trials took place in the Great Hall's antechamber. The walls were first prepared with lime plaster and limewash; the freizes and floral motifs were inspired by the 13th-century wall-paintings in the near-by church of Moutiers-en-Puisaye. More rooms within the castle will be decorated in the coming seasons.

In the same season, three teams worked simultaneously on:

  • laying out the octagonal chamber on the 2nd floor (3rd floor = US) of the Great Tower
  • building the ground floor (1st floor = US) of the western corner tower
  • building the domed vault and its oculus on the ground floor (1st floor = US) of the eastern corner tower

2013: the two towers

The eastern corner tower © Guédelon

2013:

  • the team started work on the western corner tower, building the ground floor shooting gallery and its three arrowloops; a wooden ceiling was fitted above this chamber
  • the eastern flanking tower also grew taller. On the first floor, work continued on the building of two arrowloops and the first steps of a spiral stair to the wall-walk
  • the wall-walk on the northern curtain wall was completed
  • in the North Range: on the ground floor, the castle's kitchen walls were lime-plastered. Fired-earth tiles were laid on the floor
  • on the Great Tower: work continued on the 2nd floor (3rd floor = US) of this tower with the building of the outer walls, the entrance, the corridor and the first window with its stone window seat

2014: work begins on building the chapel

The tracery window nears completion © Guédelon Ph. C Guérard

2014:

The team restarted construction work on the 1st floor of the Chapel Tower. All the different crafts on site at Guédelon would work together on building the castle's chapel.

  • the fixer-masons built the tower's circular walls and began work on the tracery window and the three lancet windows
  • at the same time, they continued building the spiral stairs, fixing 24 additional steps. These stairs, built into the thickness of the walls, begin in the courtyard and lead to the upper floors of the Chapel Tower
  • the banker-masons dressed the piscina
  • the carpenters built the wooden gallery which skirts aroung the chapel's outer wall and links the the northern and western wall-walks. Curved sections of wood were used in the building of the corbelled passage
  • at the end of the 2014 season, the masons completes the tracery window

2015: the chapel's vault is complete

The Chapel Tower © Guédelon Ph. D. Gliksman

2015:

  • On the Chapel Tower: the banker masons and fixer masons continued work on the 1st-floor chapel. They dressed and assembled the corbels, voussoirs and keystone to form the castle’s final rib-vault.
  • At the same time they completed the chapel’s three lancet windows. The carpenters built the roof of the wooden gallery which skirts this place of worship.
  • The quarrymen extracted a large number of sandstone blocks in order to keep the stonemasons supplied with building materials for the crenellated wall-walk on the western curtain.
  • The masons laid the 4000 paving tiles made and fired last season by the tile makers on the floor of the Great Hall.

2016 : a second wall-walk is nearly complete

2016

  • The stonemasons finished building all the crenels and merlons on the western curtain wall wall-walk. Visitors may now walk along it or admire it from the foot of the western wall.
  • They also built a domed vault on the first floor of the western flanking tower.
  • The carpenters assembled a second bridge allowing access onto the castle in anticipation of the construction programme of 2017 which will block the fixed bridge.
  • A new workshop was constructed in the castle courtyard for Nicolas, the monnayer, to mint coins using medieval techniques.

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