- 14 bedrooms
- 6 bathrooms
- 16 habitable rooms
- 930 square meters of living space
- 100 square meters of surface of the outbuildings
This chateau stands in the midst of the area around Noyon, a land characterised by its verdant, gently rolling relief with a landscape composed of small valleys as well as irregular-shaped fields separated by hedges and ditches, where cattle are raised and fruit crops grown.
This area is at the heart of French history as both Charlemagne and Hugues-Capet were crowned in Noyon and Jean-Calvin was born here. It was also obviously horribly marked by the First World War and, in particular, by one of the last German offensives in March 1918. Known as Operation Michael, it was the beginning of the end for the German empire.
This chateau stands near to Noyon on the top of a hill in the midst of 9 ha of parklands. A shady lane leads up to modest wooden gates, marking the entrance to the property. A drive winding its way to the main building goes through a small wood, with trees over a hundred years old, and passes an old wall, vestige of the old perimeter wall. It is true that the property has changed enormously. Prior to the First World War, it consisted of an 18th century chateau, itself descended from a medieval fortress, the moats of which are still in existence today.
But the war devoured constructions as well as men and the old chateau was destroyed by the German army in 1917. And yet, these premises had been of great importance, with the installation of the command of the 9th army corps under the direction of General-Von-Boehn and Emperor William II stayed within their walls in March 1915.
The citation of Albert Camus: “War teaches us to lose everything and become what we were not” very much applied to the owner of the property at this time. Scrupulous heir of an old chateau, he became a builder in order to construct a “modern chateau” and enlisted the help of the great Art-Deco architect, Jean-Niermans (1897-1989).
Having taken part in the First world War, Jean-Niermans, son of architect Edouard-Jean-Niermans, qualified as an architect in 1925. Following his “Prix de Rome” in 1929, he created his own architectural firm that same year. Some of the projects that he worked on between the two wars became icons of the Art-Deco style.
The architectural design
When designing the chateau, in addition to the accepted classicism, Jean-Niermans decided to build in a pure Art-Deco style mixed with a Flemish influence that topped the roof dormers with a triangular, monumental stone pediment. The project was designed in 1931, the building was completed in 1936.
A classical appearance was preserved for the facade facing the main courtyard, with a central building flanked by two wings, in the manner of all great 18th century houses. This approach was enhanced with the use of materials such as stone and brick.
The Art-Deco style is nevertheless reflected in the geometry of the forms with stone rectangles and squares, the refined cornice and the use of two colours. Everything points to the chateau dating from the 1930’s.
And Niermans’ talent is also shown in the layout of the roofs, with the courtyard and garden facades having very different appearances. The central roof on the courtyard side is hipped, with pavilion roofs on the wings. The garden side has no wings set at right angles but the roof still catches the eye as it is possible to see three roofs. Its apparent simplicity is therefore quite deceptive. And lastly, also worthy of note is the central roof to be seen on the lateral facade, that housing the back door, which features a projection partially incorporated in the carcass, like a roof within a roof.
Facing the main courtyard, the central building with its five bays, flanked by two wings each with two bays, provides an elegant hieratism. The rectangular building is impressive even if the entrance door is difficult to distinguish from the similarly-sized windows. What stands out is the ivory-coloured, dressed stone facing, resembling inlaid decoration, the vertical courses and the five stylised keystones that enhance the brick facade. Also, the three hanging dormer windows, topped with Flemish style triangular pediments, give this facade a noble air. It should be noted that the central window has a balcony with wrought iron railings forming typical Art-Deco arabesques.
The facade on the terrace and garden side also features the same geometric use of brick and stone. Niermans, nevertheless, marked the central axis of the very discreet projection with two rounded pilasters and enhanced this facade with three balconies for the hanging dormer windows, again using a Flemish style. He managed to create a plain facade, superbly steeped in elegance: a classical facade with Art-Deco style ornamentation. A terrace, slightly raised in relation to the parklands, ends with wide stone steps leading down to the lawn.
This chateau stands, preceded by medieval moats, in the midst of its parklands.
Here, we find ourselves with a chateau that meets all the codes of classical French architecture which have been reinterpreted in an Art-Deco style. Such a situation is no doubt unique or at the very least extremely rare. Architecture enthusiasts will appreciate life in one of Jean-Niermans’ creations where an equilibrium exists between modern comfort and the architecture of 17th & 18th century chateaux. Although in need of improvement and reconditioning works, potential buyers should bear in mind that this robust building, with its concrete, stone and brick structure, is ready to go on with its life. This ideal, nuisance-free setting is near to Noyon and just 120 km from Paris. This chateau is but a wonderful invitation to rediscover the old-fashioned charm of the 1930’s in unspoilt countryside.
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