Chateau d’Horte

The renaissance Chateau de La Foret d’Horte, formerly known Orthe or Ortes located just outside the small town of Grassac was once its own noble seat, located in the forest of Horte, The foret d’Horte is a very old wooded massif. There are indeed 11th century writings that link the foret d’Horte to the Archiprêtré de Grassac. This forest covers an area of 7000 hectares in the communes of Charras, Combiers, Rougnac, Sers, Vouzan et Grassac.

It was a fief dismembered from the Forêt de Feuillade and then belonged to the family of Vassoigne in the XVth century. This fief passed by marriage to the family de la Place in the middle of the XVIIIth century, Charles de La Place, Sieur de Torsac, dies at the Forêt-d’Horte, on the 31st of December 1704, aged 58 years old and it would be Jean-Charles de La Place (1670-1754) Seigneur de Torsac and of the Foret d’Horte between 1711 and 1746 who rebuilds the chateau in around 1720.

February 19, 1750.  Alexandre-Charles-Gabriel de La Place sold the chateau and outbuildings to Madame de Saint-Martin.  Madam de Saint-Martin enjoyed a considerable fortune, because she was the widow of Étienne Cherade, who died in 1714. She remarried in 1715 with Armand St. Martin, Adviser to the Parliament of Paris. Again a widow in 1733. Madam de Saint-Martin, who liked to stay in Marthon, residing in the new chateau, left the Chateau de La Foret d’Horte as soon as she had acquired it.  The fortune of the Cherade family had begun with Etienne Cherade, son of a silk cloth merchant, from the parish of Saint-André in Angoulême. Multiple very lucrative loads by this man of law, enabled Etienne Cherade to buy the Comté de Montbron, The Baronnies de Marton, Blanzac, La Rochechandry, the Marquisat de Clairvaux, the Seigneuries des Seguins, des Salles et de Laumont.

In 1759, a year after the death of Madame de Saint-Martin, heirs, Adrien-Alexandre Cherade, Comte de Montbron, and his wife and cousin, Elisabeth Le Musnier,  build the two side wings.  In one of the wings was a chapel,  This chapel was blessed by dom Huot, Abbot of Grosbost, July 4, 1761.   These later works of expansion and beautification of the Chateau had also consisted in the construction of a long Orangery, which still survives and is operated and a holiday retreat.

Joseph, The last Chérade, Comte de Montbron, Depute de la Haute-Vienne, was born in the Château in 1768, the future Comte de Montbron, Marquis de Clairveau, Baron de Marthon, Blanzac,  La Roche Chandry, was dispossessed of his property during the French Revolution of 1793, he became a refugee in Holland and he would go on to write a book in 1815 about how he managed to dodge the bullet, in 1852 at his time of death he made noble use of his fortune on his land at the Chateau de Montagrier in the Limousin. Whilst the Chateau d’Horte slowly falls into ruin.

During the XXth century, the chateau’s general decline was noted by a demolition order applied for in 1907 by M. Thuron (it’s new owner) who judging its costly maintenance, preferred to have it demolished. The most beautiful stones were believed converted into lime. There are afew old postcards that certainly show the chateau in a complete state of ruin 100 years or so ago, Aerial photos from the 1940’s show forest had taken over so much of the chateau that it was completely hidden, later aerial shots from around 2008 show the area completely cleared exposing the chateau again properly for the first time since it was abandoned. I remember having to climb over piles of square cut stone scattered around the site which at our time of visiting was heavily overgrown with brambles.

After WW2 during the 1950’s, the ruins were used for local country fetes.