Marouatte Castle History & Past Guests
Before written history and today

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Chateau Marouatte, exterior
Chateau Marouatte, exterior
One of the miraculous castle towers.
The commanding position of the bluff on which Marouatte Castle stands may explain why the spot was occupied in so many past periods, beginning in the Stone Age. It dominates the valley of the Euche stream and from it a wide area of pasture land and forests in the Dronne Valley can be enjoyed.

Before written history

Stone Age Neanderthal and even earlier hunters are known to have roamed the immediate vicinity - their flint knives and scrapers were found during the construction of the playing field adjacent to the outer court and bones from a mammoth were discovered in the Euche Valley beyond.

Chateau Marouatte, interior knight
Chateau Marouatte, interior knight
A knight overlooking the dining hall.
Bronze Age burials were recently unearthed from under an ancient priory in St. Vivien village at the foot of Marouatte. It is possible that they represent people from a hill-fort on the Marouatte plateau, up to 5000 years before the castle. An important "dolman" burial mound remains dating to 17,000 BC can be seen just beyond St. Vivian less than 1.6 kilometers from the castle.

Roman times

A Roman military road passed along the Euche Valley below Marouatte and fragments of Roman roof-tiles have been found at Marouatte . There are remains of a Roman camp or relay station in the parkland beyond the main gate. Some authors suggest a Franko-Roman chateau-fort stood on the site of the current Chateau. The name Marouatte is derived from the Frankish Latin "muratum" (wall) and implies the site was fortified.

Age of feudalism

By the 12th century Richard I was King of England and Duke of Aquitaine which included the Dordogne and, therefore, Marouatte. This chivalrous, if not brutal, time sees the first recorded, surviving documentary record of Marouatte; a feudal barony already based here in 1293. The rock was hewn to a depth of several meters to support the towers and form the moat and it is on these massive 12th century foundations upon which the Castle is built.

By 1303 the feudal fortress was well established and belonged to the Montagrier family whose oak tree coat of arms can be seen in the mullions of the blocked up window above the cloister courtyard. The personal blazon of Marouatte; the symbol of a cross with four bars ending in fleurs de lys can be found in the walls and fireplaces throughout the chateau.

Chateau Marouatte, exterior
Chateau Marouatte, exterior
During this period of constant fighting in the Middle Ages between the English and French including the 100 years war, much, if not all, of the records of the age were lost or destroyed. What was left disappeared during the French Revolution.

Renaissance & French Revolution

Antoine Montagrier, the last male Montagier, built the outer enclosure of 1569 and after his death his eldest daughter, Claude, brought the fief of Marouatte into the possession of her husband, Baron Chabot de Jarnac. The name has a famous connection to the "Coup de Jarnac" or "low blow" aimed unexpectedly at the back of an adversary's knee.

During this period, when castles were no longer considered relevant in the age of the cannon, the high walls between the inner towers were lowered giving one a view of the surrounding hills and fields. A building between the Garden Tower and Chaufage Tower was also removed leaving only the window openings clearly seen. The Western part of the moat was also filled in giving one direct access to the garden beyond.

During the French Revolution, Duc de Chabot and Count de Jarnac fled abroad and Marouatte was confiscated by the Republic in 1792 and was gradually despoiled by the local population to build their own homes and public buildings. The dilapidated Chateau changed hands many times in the late 18th and early 19th. Century. In 1843 M. Boc de St. Hilaire purchased the Marouatte domain, consisting at that time only of the Chateau and 30 acres. He worked hard to restore the Chateau until his death in 1861.

Modern times

Chateau Marouatte, exterior
Chateau Marouatte, exterior
A beautiful photo of the castle from a far.
In 1900 a shipping magnate from Bordeaux, M. Rouanet, bought the property. He carried out major restorations including the rebuilding of two towers. M. Rouanet's grandson, who lives in Riberac, recalls his childhood, a time when the outer court housed a thriving farm and winery. Pigs, dogs, horses and chickens were kept in the stables and outbuildings. The vines grown on the farmland produced good white wine and champagne, but the red wine was not a success. The winery, with its vast oaken vats, grape press and the 'cave' still survive forming a kind of wine museum; its ambience contrasting strongly with the metal tubes and steel barrels in modern wineries.

35 years ago the chateau was purchased by an English family, Sir Maxwell and Lady Joseph. He was known to have a number of distinguished guests including Sir Edward Heath, one time Prime Minister of England. He arrived with his piano and his butler; the piano had to be taken up the spiral staircase to his bedroom. The Queen Mother (mother of Queen Elizabeth II) also came - her instructions were that she needed two identical bedrooms for her and her Lady-in-Waiting. This prompted Sir Maxwell to divide the large space above the Salle d'Honor in half creating two identical bedrooms, now known as the Queen Mother suite.

Today the castle has largely been restored with all modern amenities added including central heating in the main chateaux The decoration has made liberal use of Gothic Revival furniture, art and architectural antiques including beautiful stained glass, tiles and period wood and stone work.

Chateau Marouatte, exterior pool
Chateau Marouatte, exterior pool
Photo: Aaron Stipkovich +
Used as an inspiration for music creation & production titled "Prentemps des Troubadours" attendees have included Cher, Jon Bon Jovi, Carole King, Keith Urban, Stewart Copeland, Jules Holland, Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, Mika, Ellie Goulding, Zucchero and many others. This produced hits for Celine Dion, Aerosmith, Keith Urban, Aaron Tippon with songs written at the castle thus reviving the rich songwriting period of the region's troubadours of the 12th century. In 2011 the American performing rights society ASCAP began holding annual songwriter retreats at the castle with many notable songwriters.

(pdf) View, print, or download the Marouatte Castle floorplans