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      How pretentious even ridiculous to call this tiny house a Castle ! Castellas  from occitan (ancien language of Southern France) meaning ‘big castle’. Nevertheless, it’s the name inherently used throughout generations and even today by the  residents: « Let’s go to the Castle… I’ll spend my summer holidays at the Castle ».

 

Le Castellas is the hamlet surrounding the church, in the ‘Mas de Londres’. Originally it was a medieval fortified castle, then a late XVIth Century mansion, which became abandonned and finally fell to ruin towards the end of the XVIIth Century. Up for sale in mid XIXth Century the Castellas was divided and  sold. One half was partially reconstructed and the other was totally demolished. Builders used stones from the demolition to locally construct other houses and buildings.

 

 The ruins of the Castellas  early XIXth Century , J. Amelin, 1824  

          From the XIIth Century castle only parts of the north-east fortified walls remain standing. The nave of the church also dates back to this period. In 1557, Fulcrand de Roquefeuil, Lord of La Roquette and owner of the Castel de Londres decided to undertake the construction of a renaissance sytle mansion on the ruins, which enabled him to move from his ageing and unconfortable keep perched on the summit of the Hortus (cliff facing the Pic St Loup). His new dwelling became the Castel de la Roquette. Later the Roquefeuil family extended the church to make their mausoleum. At this period, the Castel proudly displayed towers, wide widows and two magnificent sculptured doorways. One of which closed the northeast-facing yard , the other created an entrance to the southeast wing.

        In the XVIII
th Century, the family Roquefeuil abandonned the mansion to  settle in another of their many nearby properties (Brissac). The Castel de la Roquette progressively lost its glory and fell into oblivion until the early XIXth Century when old romantic ruins became fashionble.  Rich travellers such as J-M Amelin, Taylor and Rodier, made precious sketches and watercolors showing the remains of the ruined building.


Main doorway (presently destroyed and lost) by Taylor and Rodier, 1835

 

  Land register (circa 1825) : the Castellas corresponds to the plot N° 167. The present land register shows what remains:  the « Presbytère » (plot N° 97) and the Gîte (plot N° 96).

Castellas AD341

The Mas de Londres district would have liked to have acquired the ruin but was unable  to do so due to lack of funds. In 1841 the ruin was bought by a builder named François Blanc his aim was to make a quarry for building stones. Eventually in 1850 the district purchased half of the plot and plans were drawn up to restore SW-wing of the Castellas, the need to accommodate the priest in a comfortable presbytary was at last satisfied. This is the present rectangular building at the top of the hill. The other half was bought by M. Jaoul, the « massounet » (the little builder). However his side of the Castellas underwent a drastically different fate. He completed the destruction of the NE and SW wings (the trace of the vault and the stone floor are still visible) and also sold the famous doorways (the inside doorway can be seen at the Salle Pétrarque, Montpellier). Finally, amonsgt the ruins, he built himself a small 4-roomed house resting against the Castellas walls. Once his house finished, in 1856 he erected the « massounet cross »  at the crossroads with the road to St Martin.


 

 This house was purchased by my great grand father Jean-Pierre Moure in the 1890’s and remains in the family to this day. It’s restoration was undertaken in 2007 and  was completed in June 2009.








The house just before restoration    
 

 

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