- 8 bedrooms
- 3 bathrooms
- 19 habitable rooms
- 742 square meters of living space
- 982 square meters of surface of the outbuildings
On the east and Black Mountain side of the appealing, very busy town of Castres, it is surprising to find such a haven of peace adjoining all that our modern society can offer in terms of amenities, with even a shopping centre, that cannot be seen or heard from the property. Looking out over wonderful countryside, protected by neighbouring listed parklands, this property is 5 minutes from the town centre and 10 minutes from Castres-Mazamet airport, with its four daily flights to Paris-Orly and Charles-de-Gaulle.
The town has a wealth of shops, cultural activities (rugby is emblematic there) and its recent hospital has a very good reputation.
A motorway under construction will soon link Castres to Toulouse in 35 minutes.
This property could be seen as four heads of Janus crossing one another, with two on a north-south axis and the other two on an east-west axis. The countryside contrasts with the town whilst a 1940’s villa adjoins an old mill. Furthermore, invisible from the outside and sufficiently distant from a road, concealed by rows of trees, it is reached via a narrow little access road and a tarmacked country lane. It is literally protected by the presence of neighbouring parklands and an impressive 18th century large luxurious home which screen it from a shopping centre and a roundabout. At the start of the lane leading from the access road, a caretaker’s cottage marks the entrance to the estate. At the end of this lane, facing west, a bend leads to a gateway opening on to parklands enhanced with decoratively trimmed boxwood and yew trees, the entrance to the house and the old outbuildings. Facing east, a river with water rights once powered a mill which is but waiting to be rehabilitated. A waterfall, a little beach and a jetty are an invitation to go fishing, swimming or out in a boat. The water is now so clean that it is once again possible to catch trout. On the opposite bank, a vast stretch of grasslands is planted with trees over a hundred years old. These currently accommodate horses with horse loose boxes discreetly laid out.
(It would also be possible to purchase an old factory, once a part of the property, which is perfectly concealed by the outbuildings.)
The Maurice-Benne villa (1948)
This house is the work of architect Maurice-Benne who also designed Saint-Joseph-de-Laden church in Castres (1968). His plans date from 1948. The various sections and roof of this house reflect a style of architecture to be found in the south of France, where different units adjoin and protrude from one another, creating a unique building every time. Another aspect of this style is that the various sections, of miscellaneous sizes and heights, adjoin a main building, higher than the rest, this being determined in this instance by the height of the old mill so as to create harmonious continuity. The soberness of the straight lines dominates and the roof over the top section, covered with Roman tiles, is almost flat; those of the lower sections being marked by steeper slopes. This feature enlivens the building in a simple, balanced manner. The very modern classicism of the traditional architecture from the south-east regions is enhanced here by several modernist effects such as the layout and proportions of certain openings as, for example, that set in the south-west corner on the top floor of the main section. The stylistic base of the architecture, almost Palladian in its simplicity, makes it possible to give way to whims which can but be in good taste: these will clearly take the form of a wide variety of ornaments. The tone is set. The architect had no reason to hesitate when defining his style as it was a question of adjoining a modern building to the structure of an old mill, which featured on Cassini’s map. The structure of the mill actually reflecting great soberness, the task appeared to be easy, the old and the modern sections almost fitting one into the other. And yet, when moving around the house, it becomes obvious that the various levels are more complex than it first appeared and are more difficult to define with words. In fact, the new section itself has two separate accesses on different levels, said difference in levels not even amounting to that of a half-floor: one on the parklands side, the other on the river side. Furthermore, the same difference in levels has been preserved in the communication between the old mill and the new section. Therefore, considering the different levels, it is once again possible to note the same principle of four heads of Janus, said principle being founded on the same two axes already observed in the topography of the estate. Coincidence or not, the concept existing between the lines and structures will be clearly apparent to those attempting to look beyond the simplicity of what is initially seen. This approach, the principle of adapting an architectural style to a site, is reminiscent of a similar concept implemented by Jules-Hardouin-Mansart in the construction of what is today the town hall in the very same town of Castres.
The old mill
Powered by the force of the waterfall, it could be made operational once again if new owners were to rebuild its mechanism.
Spanning two levels, constructed over cellars, it is worthy of being restored given the general robustness of the construction and its state of neglect.
The caretaker’s cottage
This cottage spans 106 m² over two levels, constructed over 30 m² of cellars. Its traditional layout comprises living rooms on the ground floor and bedrooms upstairs. The ground floor includes a kitchen, a living room, a bathroom and a toilet whilst the upstairs is taken up by four bedrooms.
Next to the cottage stands a building in ruins, with only the walls and the roof remaining (all in a good state of repair). Spanning a ground surface area of 30 m², it awaits rehabilitation.
Standing a short distance away, at right angles to the cottage, this outbuilding can be used as stables or a garage. Its Roman tile roof is enhanced with a superb overhanging gable cornice. It spans a ground surface area of 178 m².
This property is most unusual not only because of its regional location (road and airport infrastructures) and its position in relation to the town and the countryside, but also because of its architectural qualities. It combines the advantages of the town and those of the countryside without any of their inconveniences and its balance is especially marked by contrasts. The effect is stunning. The old mill, for example, blends harmoniously with a 1940’s house. It is also so easy to move around between the various sections that there is no risk of overcrowding. A house for a family, for leisure activities or for a bed & breakfast activity, it exudes potential.
Furthermore, the possibility of purchasing the old factory and its land is an additional asset for all those who love rehabilitating industrial buildings.
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