The Château

Biography

Hello and welcome to the Chateau des Lys the family home of Marc and Laure Jouffrault. We hope you’ll love this beautiful building and it’s surrounding area as much as we do.

Thank you for visiting.

Le Chateau des lysA small potted history

We’re discovering more about the history of the Château and the surrounding area every day. The Somme valley area has of course been the setting for many important events since prehistoric times. Julius Caesar launched his English invasion here. The shipwrecked Harold Godwinson of Wessex was imprisoned in St. Valery before being released by William the Conqueror who later assembled his own invasion fleet in the bay when Harold reneged on his promise to make William king of England providing the excuse William needed to land at Hastings.

The tower where Harold was imprisoned still exists. Other Anglo French differences were settled at Crecy and Azincourt, anglicised to “Agincourt” to add insult to injury, both sites are close by and well worth visiting. Joan of Arc was also imprisoned in St. Valery- the gate she passed through on the way to execution and much of the medieval town is still largely intact and absolutely lovely. One could carry on forever- try here for starters visit-somme.com

Sailly le sec was once a separate village and became conjoined to neighbouring Flibeaucourt in 1908. The etymology is probably Roman, “salix” meaning Willow & salicelum- the place of the willows, the Latin implying it was named when Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. Not much remains of the mediaeval village as it was razed by the Spanish in 1823 and now the oldest part is the other Chateau housing the Mairie and a rather lonely stump of  16th century windmill on the way to Le Titre. The first phase of our Château des Lys began in 1850. A Parisian railway magnate called Sangnier built the front house as a holiday retreat.

He also built three buildings, probably for quartering his servants and these have now become our Gîtes, originally the estate was much larger. It remained with the Sangnier family until the last heir died, we think during WW1 whereupon his pious father, the last of the line then gifted the building to the Church who used it as a strict catholic boy’s school, renowned for discipline and high achievement. Around this time two wings were built to connect the main house to the Studio Gîte and the Rural Gîte, the left or roadside wing containing the Chapel. Vestiges of its ecclesiastical past can be found in the stained glass and various furnishings throughout the building and the chapel itself has been converted to accommodation.

During WW2 the Chateau was used as HQ for the Germans. We recently discovered that during their occupation a fallen English airman was hidden in what is now a bedroom, it’s a fascinating story of courage and the resistance and we’re currently trying to piece it together properly and track him down.

There’s also an enchanting Maria icon in the garden and a Cross in the grounds. We think the pond (etang) is natural. After the school closed the neighbouring farmer then took possession of the Château before portioning the land off into its present configuration and selling it on.  The previous owners, Tim & Margreeth Alexander  arrived in 2012, the place was in a poor state and their renovations and adventures were filmed for the English TV series Escape to the Chateau and Chateau DIY which was broadcast in over 43 countries. You can keep up with them here We believe that we’re only the sixth owners. Incidentally the building’s Oxblood and white colour scheme is typically Picard.

The strip of woodland forming part of the Château des Lys estate was once part of an old forest, Le Bois de Cantatre which extended as far as Abbeville. The larger remnant now lies in front of the Mairie a few fields away and is popular with walkers. Bronze Age burials have been found there along with traces of Gallic villages and unsurprisingly there are local legends of druidic activity, but that may just be the guests. Occasionally wild boar & deer still visit the grounds as do red squirrels and at time of writing, lots of moles. It remains a quiet and cut off corner of the world and we hope to keep it that way, restoring as much of it to its original glory as we can.