History on Saint-Maclou-la-Campagnes château
The Château of Saint-Maclou-la-Campagne was the theatre of dramatic history recently put up to date thanks to some rare documents from the 18th century discovered at the ministry of foreign languages at Quai d’Orsay.
In the eighteenth century, at the end of the reign of Louis XV, the family Giberville had many properties in Normandy. The Château de Saint-Maclou was the jewel in the heart of 550 hectares of land. In 1770, Mr. Giberville, aged 30, died suddenly, leaving behind a widow and five young children.
Then appeared a Loyse Knight, former engineer in the army of Frederick the Great, who saw the advantages he could take from the situation. If he married the widow, got rid of the kids and even their mother, he would be at the head of an immense fortune. So he married Lady Giberville, with who he had a son, whom he hoped to be the sole heir to the fortune of Giberville.
The marriage took plave in 1772 and immediately Loyse put his plan in action to get rid of Gibervilles children. E Edward and hisbrother were placed as apprentices aboard two British merchant vessels plying between Germany and Hull. Daughter, Henrietta, was sent pure work on a farm in Altona, while the two younger boys were placed in a home where they died quickly.
When Edward arrived to London, he was welcomed by a certain Captain Jackson and went abroad his ship for Saint-Pétersbourg. He there became apprentice at the captains brothers wine merchant. Mr Jackson contacted the Count of Nicolay, ambassador of the king of France in Russia, told him the history of Edward and ordered him to investigate the truth of Giberville’s family heritage.During this time the oldest daughter, Henriette escaped from the farm where she had been placed, and thanks to Mr Nicolays help, she went on the road to Russia to look for her brother. The ambassador presented these children to Catherine the empress of Russia who was touched by their story and conceded them a scholarship so they could have an education. There were lodged by the Grand Duke Paul, Catherine’s son.
Two years later, Edward returned to France with the money and the Empress instituted a lawsuit against his stepfather and his mother to recover the legacy usurped. He won the case and recovered all the possessions that had been stolen.
With the family fortune intact, Edward did many successful business trips in Russia and stayed in contact with the imperial court. He decided to extend the Château of Saint-Maclou and make it worthy of Catherine the Great during his upcoming visit to France. He planted alleys tilleus over 1000 meters long, dug a pond and planned to add two wings to the Castle. He also redid the large dining room so that it is worthy of the Empress.
However, his luck didn’t take long to turn around. Edward spent all his money on his big projects. The empress refused to come to France outraged by the excesses of the French Revolution. The Gibervilles were ruined by Edwards extravagance who had sold nearly all of his goods, he was arrested by revolutionaries from Caen. Brought to Paris and put in prison he was beheaded only a few days before the end of the terror.
In 1797, his daughter, the Viscountess of Lentilhac asked that the Château was returned to her family and as she hadn’t emigrated during the revolution, she was able to retrieve the Château of Saint-Maclou.
In the mid-nineteenth century, the castle became the property of the family of Louis Nicolas Vauquelin, renowned chemist who invented the chrome. Armand Vauquelin, his nephew spent a fortune building the wings of Giberville Edward had imagined. These wings were destroyed at the end of the twentieth century, in the 90s, under the supervision of Historic Monuments, which placed the castle on the Inventory (historical monument).
The castle was occupied by the Prussians in 1870 and then again by the Germans in 1944. It is said that it is under the floor loft that the Germans buried their loot. Nobody ever discovered it! After the war the castle was home to a school because the Germans blew up the village.
In the 1990s, the property was purchased by Alan Clore, son of financier Charles Clore, worked in breeding racehorses. The ruined castle was saved by the Historic Landmarks, and with the help of successful owners, St. Maclou-la-Campagne finally able to regain its former greatness.