Around the Château du Grand Pressigny

with Cleo Tebby

Grand Pressigny Château dominates the town, if your live here you do not really see it because it is always there. But, when you look at it with and artist's eye, you see things that you never noticed before.

Come for a tour round the castle with Cleo. (Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them - then click on the big picture to come back.)

When you arrive in Le Grand Pressigny from Descartes, you climb up to the chateau by a road (Rue du Château) cut into the hillside which opens out onto the old barbican which is now half buried under the tarmac. Behind the barbican, you can see the remains of the castle.

The Grand Pressigny "old castle" was the result of the war between Arthur, Duke of Brittany and King John of England, his uncle.

"Guillaume de Pressigny fought with Philippe-Auguste's followers against the English. Arthur, surprised by his enemy the 1st of August 1202, was taken prisoner and King John . . . demanded that Guillaume des Roches, Seneschal of Poitou, . . . raze the fortresses at Grand-Pressigny and Sainte-Maure."

"In 1213 he [Guillaume de Pressigny] build what is now called the Grand Pressigny "old castle".

If you climb up to the castle from the town, when you arrive out of puff under the old walls of the castle, you get a good impression of the power of the old castle with its drawbridge, dry moat, barbican and curtain walls.

Before 1955, the main road went in this way. It was all open to the public.

Modern experts tell us that the top of the drawbridge gate house which was re-built around 1961, is not very authentic. But it is better like that than as a ruin.

From the drawbridge, you get an overall view of the castle overlooking the dry moat : remains of the old castle and improvements made in the 16th century.

The remains of the towers are capped in a rather eccentric style, but at least it is dry inside.

La Tour Vironne. This tower with its rather unusual shape, is said to have no connection with Verona in Italy. It is supposed to be the tower from which the guard surveyed the "environs". If you believe that . . .

Nowadays, it used more as a minaret - groups of schoolchildren on educational trips climb up the spiral staircase inside to make their presence known to the whole countryside.

When you approach the castle across the fields along the "Chemin du Cormier", you can see the messy ruin that used to be a castle. Two isolated towers, enormous windows, cut into the curtain wall, surmounted by a balustrade. It is clear that there is not much left of the old fortifications.

"Keep. The square tower dates from the same period as the old castle of which it was part . . . This keep . . . was crowned by a high wooden roof which made the building almost twice the height that it is now." (Malardier)

In 1988, two sides of the keep fell down after centuries of neglect, It is no longer a "magnificent square keep" but a ruin.

Behind the keep, you can see part of the renaissance gallery.

If you carry on round to the east, you get a better idea of the fortifications of the old castle - the keep and the round towers that overlooked the dry moat. The two sides of the keep that fell down have been half re-built to stabilise the rest of the building.

Behind the keep, you can see part of the renaissance gallery.

"This keep was divided into several floors by vaults and wooden floors which were accessed from a spiral staircase cut in the thickness of the wall" (Malardier).

Now that half the keep has fallen down, it is much easier to see the spiral staircase and the remains of the vaults "demolished since 1789" (the French revolution).

The renaissance gallery is a renaissance gallery, with a renaissance arcade and renaissance pilasters. What on earth is it doing in our old castle?

"Three centuries later, the old castle was replaced be the modern chateau build by the Marquis de Villars who owned Pressigny in the 16th century." (Malardier)

This is not a summerhouse at the base of the keep but the 16th century cover of that most essential part of a castle - the well.

The top of the Tour Vironne seen from the west.

This crow's nest on a ship that glides through the mists of an autumn morning seems rather out of place here.

Can this really a lookout tower with no guardroom? Why is it so ornate? Why does it have a balustrade of low arches that offers no protection for the lookout? Why does no other chateau in the region have anything like it?

(Detail of previous drawing) The ornamentation on the brackets and arches is very rich. Why is it so ornate? front page

The streets of Le Grand Pressigny

Pencil drawings - Cleo Tebby

Historical texts - Malardier (end of 19th C), justice of the peace at Montoire

Page layout - T-T-Web

Cleo (

The 5th Gnossienne was written by Erik Satie in 1899 and is played by Niclas Fogwall. It was found at Furniture Music