intoHistory, geschiedenis beleven in authentieke logies
Would you like a taste of château life as it was before the French revolution? Savour it at the Château de Missery with its grandiose yet elegant and simple proportions. You will be carried back to the essence of aristocratic splendour, to the luxury of its large airy spaces, to a blend of sophistication and whimsicality, with a touch of English humour so as not to take it too seriously . . .
Astonishingly poised and graceful, Château de Missery’s façade is as impressive as its interior living spaces. © Château de Missery
Space was a real luxury in the 18th century. At Missery, this can be spelt in capital letters. © Château de Missery
That the Château de Missery is a medieval castle is borne out by the four monumental corner towers and its deep moat – venerable defence ditches – that date back to the 8th century. The Missery seigniory must certainly have played an important part in this corner of Burgundy that has flourished economically since the late Middle Ages.
Three hundred years later, the 14th century fortified castle was reconstructed in the Renaissance style. In 1760, its owner, a parliamentarian from Dijon, chose to rebuild it in the grand classical style that obeys the ancient architectural orders and rules of symmetry, which had been adopted by the architects of that time. Only its chimneys and pointed roofs covered with flat tiles of burnt umber remain as reminders that the residence was fashioned to resist the Burgundian climate. The castle was transformed into a summer residence.
The designs of the architect who undertook the castle’s reconstruction in the 18th century have been preserved and can be seen from the south wing of the staircase.
All the rooms in the château, even the smallest, are an impressive size. © Château de Missery
The Missery estate was not exempt from the French revolution – its owner escaped the guillotine by a hair’s breadth – nor from the two world wars of the 20th century. Still, this noble stone vessel, on its solid island, seems to have resisted the onslaughts of time. Perhaps it is due to its distance from the major axes of economic development that have saved it from modernisation? Or was it the wisdom of its successive owners who preserved it in its period finery? To this day, every room of the castle can be savoured in a bubble of forgotten history and experienced with all the senses – leafing the pages of an old tome, the large paving stones polished over the ages by the wearers of leather-soled hose, the fireplaces and their reliefs that come to life in the glow from the flames, the three thousand blown glass panes, or the keys that sound musically when they are turned in their locks – everything evokes the grand lifestyle that the country aristocracy led here at the end of the 18th century.
Aristocratic recklessness? No doubt – but its profligacy gave work to many artisans and enabled a number of artists to deploy their talents to the full in the execution of the castle’s decor, which can be seen in the fine gold-leafed scrolling of the panelling in the drawing room, the ornamental banister in the great hall or the stone garlands on the façade pediments.
A dream kitchen – large, light and inspiring! © Château de Missery
The task for Philip and Patricia Hawkes, who bought the castle in 1979, as well as for their daughter Lucy, who shares the management of the estate, is to offer their guests an original experience by completely immersing them in castle life – in its grandiose proportions, its noble materials, and the poetic charm of its gardens, as well as involving them in the many concrete aspects of the castle owner’s life – the distances travelled from one room to another, the fireplaces that need feeding with logs, swimming in the old pool or ringing the bell to gather together the castle’s occupants for an aperitif.
It must be mentioned that the Hawkes family, experts in French châteaux, have managed to preserve the authenticity of the castle and the essence of its soul. The furniture in every room, carefully chosen and bought from renowned antique specialists, appears to have been there for generations. Added to this, in typically English offbeat creativity, is the collection of old hangers adorning the kitchen walls, the bouquet of hats populating the service staircase, and a croquet lawn laid out in the former courtyard of the fortress castle.
To avoid altering the original size of the rooms to incorporate washing facilities, many bedrooms were converted into bathrooms – of 30m2 (323ft2)!
Renting Château de Missery is affordable for many people, but it will not suit everyone’s pocket. It is because within this exceptional environment, the château can accommodate up to 14 people (even up to 18, if specially requested). You will not regret a little moment of extravagance when you experience everything it has to offer – clean, peaceful and intimate surroundings, spacious bedrooms and cosy beds, to say nothing of the beautiful grounds and nooks and crannies to which you can escape for a little meditation, a quiet read, or painting session. Then, at the end of the day, you can all meet up again for an aperitif or meal in one of the huge, but welcoming reception rooms.
Staff are on hand to make breakfasts, clean the rooms, and make beds, as well as to do the laundry including ironing; not to mention the daily provision of fruit and fresh vegetables from the kitchen garden. There are many other facilities to make you feel even more at home, such as a library, board games, a rowing boat on the moat, and a ping pong table.
A strong sense of hospitality is evident down to the smallest detail. © Château de Missery
The Hawkes family have thought of everything – a private chauffeur on request, a top chef, a cultural guide, musicians, and a wine expert are also available. Gourmet cookery courses and Burgundy wine tastings are also options.
Don’t hesitate to ask your hosts for a private tour round the ancient towers or the castle attics!
When you arrive you will find an impressive list of things to do and to learn about in the region: markets to go to, museums to visit, vineyards, cultural tours, restaurants, sporting activities, thermal spas, wine tastings, fairs, festivals, workshops, and even balloon flights. Other itinerary musts in the region are:
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Château de Missery
Mrs Lucy Hawkes
Allée du château
Tel FR: +33 1 45 48 95 96
Tel UK: +44 7866 36 2220
Chateau’s own website
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