Chateau de la Mercerie

The Chateau de la Mercerie, small Charente-native Versailles or the insane dream of the Rethore brothers, are located in the middle of the department of the Charente, approximately 20 kilometers to the south of Angouleme in the commune of Magnac-Lavalette-Villars.

Thanks to the generosity of an uncle, Raymond and Alphonse Rethore settle into the Chateau de la Mercerie in 1924 in the small manor of the XIXth century located at the extreme left of the frontage of the current building. In the Thirties, the two brothers undertake the enlarging of the castle under the direction of Alphonse who gives up his studies of medicine to devote itself to architecture.

In 1932, Raymond becomes mayor of Magnac. He is elected Front populaire on the radical-socialist list , re-elected in 1958 to 1978, he passes then under the banner gaullist. Friend of the general (he was used as a interpreter with Russia) the deputy carries out a life of a unrepentant traveller. During the years of records, the construction of the building and the accumulation of treasures, such as paintings of Italian Masters, marbles, woodworks and sculptor, became the principal occupations of the two brothers.

In 1970, work is stopped. In 1982, a proposal of legacy to the National Assembly is refused. The town of Angouleme, which inherits five thousand volumes of the library of Rethore. In 1983, Alphonse dies, then Raymond in 1986. Three million postponed towards the tax department, threats of executors seizure, nightmarish death taxes: an auction is organized by Bernard Charennac, sole legatee; it takes place in 1987.

Since 1988, the Chateau de la Mercerie is the property of Mr. Bernard Steinitz, a Parisian antique dealer in the Saint-Honore suburb. he also has a workshop of restoration in Saint-Ouen (inventory of interior decorations of XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries).

In 2012, the château opens it doors to visitors for the first time as the mairie gets a 75 year lease on the château in exchange for carrying out the necessary works need to restore the château for later generations to enjoy, we were the very first paying visitors and its a magnificent sight to be able to see the building fresh before any work has begun and maybe in afew years as the restoration continues. please note that the château is only visit-able by appointment only (big dogs keep guard the rest of the time), see the website for more information.








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