the story begins
a castle within a castle
The idea of building a castle from scratch was born at Saint-Fargeau castle. Nicolas Faucherre, fortification expert, and Christian Corvisier, castellologist, presented Michel Guyot, the castle-owner, with the results of their study of Saint-Fargeau castle.
The results were astonishing: hidden within the red-brick walls were the stone walls of a medieval castle. On the report's last page was a drawing of the castle as it once was and the final paragraph ended with the words, ‘‘Reconstructing Saint-Fargeau castle would be an amazing project’’. It was this closing sentence which caught Michel Guyot's attention.
With more than twenty years’ experience of saving endangered castles, Michel Guyot gathered together a small band of enthusiasts to get the venture off the ground. Among them, Maryline Martin, who, to this day, still orchestrates the Guédelon venture.
That was in the winter of 1995. Maryline was immediately convinced it could be done and with all her usual drive pushed the project forward. "What excited me about this project was making a long term commitment to people. It meant we could offer training, meaningful work and a real future." (extract from Guédelon Des hommes fous un château fort–, Ed. Aubanel, 2004)
Very quickly, the idea of rebuilding Saint-Fargeau Castle was abandoned, “that would have been a slavish reconstruction of an existing building”. The team opted instead for a “new” castle, inspired by neighbouring castles and with as period of reference, the first half of the 13th century and the architecture of castles built during the reign of Philip Augustus.
Dossiers were prepared, contacts made, negotiations entered into, the small team sought out the financial partners who would be vital if the Guédelon project was going to make it off the ground. Thanks to their untiring determination, the necessary funds for buying a site, paying the first members of staff and building the entrance barn were obtained.
With these obstacles out of the way, Guédelon was no longer a mere pipe dream…