Traditional medieval fortress, the Château de Boutemont has been transformed over the centuries into a pleasure dwelling.
Located in the Touques Valley within the commune of Ouilly le Vicomte, 5 kilometers north of Lisieux, it is listed in the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments and its garden has been awarded the label “remarkable gardens”.
Built in 16th an 17th centuries, it is composed of four towers with angles, a Henri the IV postern, a drawbridge surrounded by a dry moat, all in wood, stone and tile apparatus.
One of the most noticeable consequences of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 year by the Duke of Normandy William the Conqueror was the very large number of castles built at this time. Those fortified residences were used by the new Norman warlords as bases to conquer and manage their lands.
Boutemont was an important fief who reported to the barony of Fauguernon. The Medieval mound erected between the X and the XII centuries is still clearly visible. This mound, placed at the base of the hill was a stronghold which commanded the Touques Valley and provided control of the road from Lisieux to Pont-l’Evêque. This place used as a military fortress until the 14th century forced the landlord to settle nearby and led over the following centuries to the construction of a medieval abode, then Boutemont fortified castles and later the construction of the park.
At the time of the Ducal Normandy we find a lord of Boutemont who followed the Duke Robert Courteheuse in Holy Land. Roles (lists) of Normandy checkerboard (financial administration) proved the existence of a certain Boutemont Hughes in 1180 and Boutemont Guillaume in 1195. The present castle dating from the XVI and XVII centuries is a continuation of the first seigniorial house of the Lords of Boutemont. The family remained in the castle until the hundred years’ war and was replaced by Servain family around the beginning of the 14th century.
In 1525 as Philippe Paisant (ennobled in 1522 and builder of the castle in its current form) became the new owner and undertook a seigniorial defensive look reconstruction in a medieval style, well away from the influence of Renaissance architecture. Thanks to considerable means, the Lord and his successors undertook important work in the years that followed: the moats digging, the elevation of the postern entrance and the 4 lovely corner towers joined by walls, as well as the beautiful free-stone dwelling heading towards the moats. At the end of the 17th century, the Le Bas coming from the region of Orbec and possessors of important judicial and administrative burdens in the parliament of Rouen became new owners. Jean-Baptiste Le Bas decided to transform the old fortress into a more pleasant and comfortable castle. The walls were knocked down to open views of the valley of the Touques and finally let sunlight to penetrate the main courtyard.
He was succeeded by his son G-P Le Bas, whose daughter married David Guéroult and their son David-Gabriel Guéroult was the last seigneur of Boutemont. The French Revolution (1791) forced him to emigrate to England. As a result all his properties as well as his assets were seized and sold as a “national property” to the Bouteiller family. The wealthy middle class Bouteiller family also undertook a restoration campaign of the castle and its lands. In 1880 thanks to the willingness of Pauline Bouteiller a Gothic chapel was built at the very same location where the Saint Lubin’s of Boutemont church had been standing since 1652. Boutemont had been abandoned for a century before Mr. and Mrs. Drouilly acquired the domain in 1920 and saved it from the ruin. Most of the restoration appeared to be the work of Mrs. Drouilly who devoted an enormous energy to give a new shine to the castle she loved (construction of the orangery and home goalkeeper). Concerning the Park, they chose the famous landscape Achille Duchêne who transformed it into a typical 17th-century French garden.
During the summer 1944 violent fighting took place around the castle which became for a while one of the Gestapo headquarters. A number of resistance fighters such as Dr. Hautechaud de Fervaques were interrogated at that time. The doctor was sent to the concentration camp of Buchenwald where he died. Field-marshal Von Rundstedt Chief of the army of the west of France also lived in this place. Later a hospital was built and many wounded Germans and English men (at the liberation) have suffered and died there. As a consequence, the castle was let to Bruno Coquatrix previously Mayor of Cabourg and director of the Olympia. He used to invite his friends at this quiet and remote setting, stars such as Charles Aznavour, Mireille Mathieu, Alain Delon and many others. Mr. and Mrs. A.Sarfati owners since 1976 have contributed to the constant improvement of the place. Being art lovers and passionate restaurateurs, they have invested considerable time and energy to maintain and renew the beauty of the site: new gardens have been created, the orangery and the chapel have been rehabilitated… A two hours walk in this peaceful park of 11 hectares beautifully flowered is a pure delight.
Mr. and Mrs. Sarfati, owners beetween 1976 and 2020, have contributed to the constant improvement of the premises. Lovers of art and passionate restaurateurs, they invested considerable time and energy to maintain and renew the beauty of the site: creation of new gardens were created the orangery and the chapel where chabilitated… The walk, about two hours in this Park of 11 hectares, neat, peaceful, and beautifully ornate, offers the visitor a true haven of peace.
The new current owner is passionate about heritage and gardens devoted to all his career. With his wife, they will try to write a new chapter in the history of Boutemont, with the embellishment of the castle and the gardens and their opening to a large public.