History of the Château de la Barre

Explore the grounds and Bercé forest on foot or by bicycle, then return to the chateau and ask Guy for a tour of the chateau. He has plenty of stories about his ancestors whose faces dot the walls, after all this is the house he grew up in!

851-1385 : Nominoé, king of the Bretons, invaded Maine and died in Vendôme in 851. Some of his companions settled in the conquered country, notably in Vancé. It was the first place where the Vanssay family lived until the 14th century.

The Vanssay family, of French nobility dating back to medieval times, served their country under the Royalty, under Napoleon and also under the Republic, one of the sons being a well-known hero of the Resistance. The Vanssay family was able to maintain both their rank and the family fiefdom over 7 centuries, thus providing an exceptional example of the evolution of a family and its’ castle. All the archives are housed in the château.

Only one cellar remains of their castle today and the archives of this village were burned during the Revolution. However, in our region there are documents mentioning the Vanssay in 1001, 1037, 1086, 1114, 1150, 1188 and 1200. One of these documents is an act with the Abbey of Saint Calais at the time when William of Saint Calais was the confessor of William the Conqueror. The Vanssays would have had 2 participants, Osberne and Hugo, participating in the reconquest of England and mentioned in the Domesday Book. The Wansey family would be the remaining English branch.

1386-1562 : In 1386 Pierre de Vanssay, after having been dispossessed of his seigneury of Vancé, resided at the Seillerie in Conflans sur Anille. We therefore have a precise genealogy of his descendants. His son Jean joined Marie Choué and the Château de la Barre thus joined the Vanssay family, which still owns it. His descendants also settled in Perche and Vendômois, but also in Salins and Vermandois and Lorraine.

1563-1629 : With the Wars of Religion, bands of looters raged in the region. Marin de Vanssay had important fortifications built in 1589 with the authorization of the Duke of Mayenne to protect his residence. Allied to Henry IV, this work was maintained by the new king who nevertheless dismantled some of the region’s fortresses, such as Lavardin. Marin de Vanssay will also receive important lands from Henri IV, the Prince of Conti and Biron

1630-1800 : The descendants of Marin de Vanssay are all involved in the profession of arms. They can be found in all the king’s campaigns where they excel. This will give the family its motto: “Virtue to in them the advanced age”, a rare example of a word play in a family currency. In the 17th century, the Renaissance wing on the left was taken over with large openings and in 1779 the whole interior was taken over. Finally the fortifications are reduced to ditches and a single watchtower. Charles de Vanssay, who had received the honours of the Court, saw the culmination of his reformist ideas with the advent of the Revolution. He was chosen as commander of the National Guard of Conflans in 1790.

1801-1885 : The Vanssays do Napoleonic campaigns as far as Russia. Then Henry de Vanssay will be the private secretary of the Count of Chambord. Alphonse Poitevin, one of the three inventors of photography, tried his hand before 1850 by photographing the Château de la Barre.

1890-1905 : A major restoration takes place. New windows and a second staircase tower are created. Many servants live in the castle and rooms are provided for them.

1906-2002 : The men in the family were severely affected by the First World War. The Great Dining Room became a hospital for Frontal wounds. The Marquise de Vanssay will be decorated as a nurse. Guy de Vanssay, although gassed, continues the descendants and is the grandfather of the current Count of Vanssay. Pierre de Vanssay was a passionate mechanic and owned a Bollée and a motorcycle.

2003 to today : Upon the death of the Viscount of Vanssay, Guy and Marnie de Vanssay undertook a complete renovation of the Château, which would take several years, in order to receive guests who were sensitive to the history and the French way of life. After the castle, the garden was resurrected. In 2009, the Cottage was renovated, water and electricity were installed and this part of the 16th century was transformed into elegant cottages. In 2014, the castle’s chapel was restored.

Château de la Barre through history

  • 851-1385 : Nominoé, king of the Bretons, invaded Maine and died in Vendôme in 851. Some of his companions settled in the conquered country, notably in Vancé.
  • 1386-1562 : Pierre de Vanssay, after having been dispossessed of his seigneury of Vancé, resides at the Seillerie in Conflans sur Anille.
  • 1563-1629 : Jean received important lands from Henry IV, the Prince of Conti and Biron.
  • 1630-1800 : The descendants of Marin de Vanssay were all involved in the profession of arms.
  • 1801-1885 : The Vanssays did the Napoleonic campaigns as far as Russia.
  • 1890-1905 : A major restoration is taking place.
  • 1906-2002 : Men in the family were severely affected by the First World War. The grand dining hall served as a hospital in WW1.
  • 2003-2008 : Upon the death of the Viscount of Vanssay, Guy and Marnie de Vanssay renovate the Château.