Theatre: The Château’s hidden gem
Article in Plaisir(s) no. 24 – February // August 2020
Who knows there is a private theatre under the Enville Wing, one of a rare handful that still exist today? Inaugurated in 1768, but now dilapidated and closed to the public, it was chosen by Mission Stéphane Bern as a beneficiary of France’s Heritage Lotto in June 2019. […] The Château has launched a crowdfunding campaign for its restoration. Donations (which are tax-exempt) will be used to refurbish it so, first, it can be opened to the public and, one day perhaps, its theatrical functions can be revived.
Typically set up in private spaces like attics or service areas, shielded from official eyes, private theatres are entertainment venues reserved for family and friends. They are very gratifying, offering the chance to create, express personal artistic tastes, direct, perform or simply sit back and watch the show. The one in La Roche-Guyon features the particularity of being located in a highly unusual space: the Château’s basement. “Although it did not secure the expected restoration work – and its location probably didn’t help in that arena – its heritage value is undeniable. It has it all: stage machinery (a rarity), a prompter’s box, inscriptions on the frames of hanging decorations, box seats, the stalls, traces of colour, pieces of fabric, painted sets, and more. The place is frozen in time, but you can really feel its history! Though everything needs to be rebuilt: we have two key assets: the theatre itself and history”, explains Claire Jacquin, a tour guide at the Château for the past decade and fervent champion of safeguarding our heritage.
To return the theatre to its former glory, we launched a crowdfunding campaign during the European Heritage Days 2019. Anyone can make a donation via the Fondation du Patrimoine website.
Our goal is to raise €90,000. Donations received through this funding mechanism will gradually be used to finance the work.
Return of the saints
Article in Plaisir(s) no. 24 – February // August 2020
Another highly anticipated return is that of the last two bas-reliefs sculpted by Constant Delaperche between 1816 and 1819.
But before being reinstalled in their niche in the main chapel, our bas-reliefs will be on display at the Musée des Beaux-Arts art museum in Orléans, as part of the first major retrospective dedicated to Constant’s brother, Jean-Marie Delaperche (1771-1843), an artist who came face to face with the tumult of history. According to Olivia Voisin, Director of Orléans Museums and curator of the exhibition, the pieces’ inclusion in the retrospective is more than important: it’s “essential”.
Frescoes and bas-reliefs
The Château’s four bas-reliefs, attributed to sculptor and painter Constant Delaperche, a student of Jacques-Louis David, were restored by Olivier Rolland between 2010 and 2019, under the scientific and technical supervision of the DRAC (Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs).
After two years of desalination in some 3,000 litres of water, a lengthy drying period and a detour via the exhibition devoted to Jean-Marie Delaperche, brother of Constant Delaperche, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts art museum in Orléans, they reclaimed their original placements back in January 2021.
The frescoes that are an integral part of the piece, will be returning behind the scenes, at the decision of France’s Historical Monuments Department, but will be available for the public to view in photos.
Return of the keep
« Chantier terminé » // « Donjon réouvert depuis 2021 »
Article « Plaisir(s) » N°24 – Février // Août 2020
You’ve been eagerly awaiting it, and now it’s here. After 20 months of work, the keep should be reopening this spring. You will soon be able to enjoy the amazing views of the Seine Valley once again, although not without first climbing the 273 steps up the cave staircase. The project was a necessary one, relatively small in size but technically difficult.
In July 2018, testing and analyses revealed weaknesses caused by water seepage under the concrete flooring, which had affected the keep’s wooden supports. For obvious safety reasons, the Château decided to shut down entry to the keep.
After competitive tendering by multiple contractors, Lefèvre was chosen to carry out all the restoration work in three successive stages, pertaining respectively to the structure’s frame (demolition of the flooring and reparation of the joists), masonry (concrete flooring) and impermeability. Three engineering firms examined the subject before work began on the keep last November. “This is a listed site, a historic monument that deserves our respect”, explains Jean-Luc Hardy, Director of Lefèvre’s branches in Alençon and Plaisir. “The challenge of reaching the keep complicated the delivery of supplies to the worksite. We had to rack our brains to come up with a solution.” So, to ease the strain on the craftsmen working in small groups of two or three, the materials were carried to the site… by helicopter!
“Although it was small, this project was technically difficult and demanded a lot of forethought and precision. It’s not your everyday project.” Work is slated to continue in February, barring any unforeseen events, and an umbrella has even been mounted to protect the teams from rain showers.
After such a long absence, the castle keep is ready and waiting for you on solid foundations. See you soon at the top!