Château de Tancarville

Château de Tancarville


Location: Tancarville, Seine-Maritime departement Map

Constructed: 11th century


Description of Château de Tancarville or Tancarville Castle

Château de Tancarville is located in Tancarville, Seine-Maritime departement in France. Château de Tancarville or Tancarville Castle was constructed in the 11th century on a cliff overlooking Seine River. Its original owner was Raoul, chamberlain of the Duke of Normandy. The castle was eventually turned into a private mansion as it became obsolete for military use. A splendid ballroom was constructed within its walls in 1468. During the French Revolution it was badly damaged and burned. In 1960's ruins of the former military stronghold were used for children summer camp.



The ruins of the castle are located, on a triangular spur, on a chalky cliff overlooking the Seine, 1 kilometer south-east of the Saint-Michel church, in the commune of Tancarville, in the French department of Seine-Maritime. It protected the entrance to the Seine.



The first lord, Tancred, gives only his name to the domain. It was his grandson, Raoul de Tancarville, tutor then chamberlain to Duke William the Bastard, who, after having founded the Abbey of Saint-Georges de Boscherville in 1050, obtained authorization from the Duke to build a castle. This was completed at the beginning of the 12th century with the Carrée tower to the south-west, probably the Romanesque keep, whose walls are 1.65 meters thick.

In 1316, Jeanne de Tancarville, sole heiress, married Jean II. His son becomes the second Count of Tancarville. In 1364 the county of Tancarville was separated from that of Longueville. In 1417, Countess Marguerite de Tancarville married Jacques d'Harcourt. In 1418 at the time of the conquest of Normandy by Henry V of England, the title of Count of Tancarville, Earl of Tankerville was given to Jean de Gray (John Grey), while in the kingdom of France it was carried by the family of Harcourt who will recover the castle after the departure of the English.

In 1468 a reception hall was built. Then the son of the great Dunois, François I of Orléans-Longueville inherited it in 1488. In 1505 the King of France Louis XII erected the county of Longueville into the duchy of Longueville and Tancarville was no more than an annex county. In 1590, we find Jean III d'Aché, as captain.

The castle passes successively from Orléans-Longueville to Montmorency, to La Tour d'Auvergne. It was the Count of Évreux and Tancarville, Louis de La Tour d'Auvergne (1679-1753) who at the beginning of the 18th century (1709) had the "Château Neuf" built, a large building in the classical style which came to s press on the medieval parts of the building. After 1789, the castle was looted and partly burned.

For 29 years, from 1910 to 1939, the castle was rented by Mr. Fernand Prat and his wife born Jehanne Leblanc (sister of Maurice Leblanc) who received there many personalities of arts and letters: Maurice Maeterlinck and his companion Georgette Leblanc , Colette, Margaret Caroline Anderson, James Joyce, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Pierre Lecomte de Noüy, Louis Fabulet.

In the 1960s, the castle served as a summer camp for children from the region.

The castle now belongs to Saqqara, a real estate company from Figeac (Lot), with a capital of €2,000, which has been offering luxury apartments there since 2001. While waiting to be rehabilitated, it remains closed to the public and certain parts are deteriorating.



Maurice Leblanc, author of Arsène Lupin, wrote Le Bouchon de Cristal in the Eagle Tower, which dates from the 15th century.

In January 1933, a wild boar of an extraordinary size was hunted in the wood of the castle. He was nicknamed "the solitary", the head is now kept at the Manoir du Clap.

The lords of Tancarville often took the pleasure of heron hunting. They had a heronry at Tancarville, which, to their great displeasure, the eagles came from time to time to visit, so they paid five sols for each eagle's nest brought to them. The lieutenant of the captain of the castle, Jehan de Livet, did not disdain this care at the same time this profit; the registers of Tancarville bear witness to this: "To Jehan de Livet for having unearthed an eagle's nest on June 13, 1411 in the wood of Tancarville, for what the eagles were doing great damage to the Héronnière day by day".



The castle, rebuilt in the 12th century, then reinforced in the 15th century by the Harcourt family, takes the form of a large triangular enclosure flanked by towers. The seigniorial dwelling rests on the western curtain wall. To the east stood the châtelet, the Lion tower, the Coquessart tower. The Eagle Tower defended the northern front. Of the keep which formed an almond-shaped bastion, isolated at the end of a ramp, only a few ruins remain.

The rampart on the south side, which dominates the Seine, is only a simple curtain wall reinforced by buttresses connected on the south-west side to the large Carrée tower, 20 meters high, divided into four levels and served by a staircase turret . At the tip of the triangle, to the northeast, stands the Eagle Tower, a large spur tower, three levels high, each marked by a horizontal band of stones, to which a small polygonal tower gives access. The northern front is defended, in its center, by a gatehouse with its two twin towers and by a large and powerful tower which served as an ammunition store, the Lion tower.

On the west side were the seigniorial dwellings and the dungeon built in the 15th century by the Harcourt family, of which nothing remains. This dungeon with its almond plan, built outside the fortifications to the northwest was accessible by a long ramp controlled in its center by two turrets. The two towers which closed the access to the ramp, the Coquessart tower, of hexagonal plan, and the "Old Tower" of the twelfth century, of rectangular plan and smaller are still standing but very ruined.

From the house, today in the state of vestiges, there was the chapel, built in 1131, in front of the Old Tower, the knights' room (1410), with the remains of fireplaces and its ogival arcades on the ground floor floor, the main building, gutted, a large room with its façade of alternating bricks and stones which gives access to the Collecte tower built on the rampart and two small rooms, one of which joins the Carrée3 tower.

The Château Neuf, which rests on the southern rampart which it partly masks, is a large classical building whose only decoration is a slightly projecting avant-corps surmounted by a triangular pediment.