The Château de Beaumesnil is located in the department of Eure (27), in Normandy

Photo. ci-contre : ©


The "Norman Versailles", nickname of the castle of Beaumesnil

The richness of the two facades of this castle have contributed to its fame, both regional and national.

The different owners of this castle were no less wealthy than its facade and have managed to bring this architectural success of the past to us.



Beaumesnil-en-Ouche in 12th century

In 1179, Jeanne de Meullent brought in marriage the lands of Beaumesnil and Brionne to Robert II, baron of Harcourt. The third of their grandson, another Robert d'Harcourt built, around 1250, a cylindrical keep surrounded by a moat, of which only the massif is covered with boxwood and still surrounded by water. right of the castle when you arrive.

In October 1415, Robert VI of Harcourt died at the Battle of Azincourt (Hundred Years War). The site of the castle of Beaumesnil then changed hands during the Franco-English battles until 1470, when it finally returned to the hands of the French. The barony of Beaumesnil did not come out of the family until a century and a half later (1602) when it was sold to Félix Le Conte, baron de Nonant, who acquired it for his son Jacques, future Marquis de Nonant. Jacques de Nonant will be a gentleman in the King's Chamber and his hereditary lieutenant in the bailiwick of Alençon.

In 1627, Jacques de Nonant decided to tear down the remains of the medieval cylindrical keep and begin construction of the present castle. The work will take place between 1633 and 1640. Dates attested by a black marble plaque uncovered during restoration work in 1880 and which is still above the front door.

Jacques de Nonant died a year later (1641) in his castle at the age of 86.


Ponponne-François Le Conte de Nonant died at the age of 20 in 1654. The castle fell to his sister, Catherine. Six years later (1660), Catherine marries at the castle of Beaumesnil the count of Chamilly, Erard Bouton, lieutenant general of the prince of Condé, and governor of Dijon. The estate then entered a long phase of hibernation until the beginning of the 19th century. Except between 1735 and 1757, a period during which the Countess of Clèves and Chamilly had the windows of the apartments enlarged.

Became the property of Duke Armand de Béthune, Duke of Chârost and Ancenis, who also became Baron de Beaumesnil through his marriage to Louise Martel de Clères. The latter died at the castle of Beaumesnil in 1777. The daughter-in-law of Duke Armand de Béthune, Duke of Chârost and Ancenis (the latter died in 1800) inherited it and married the Duke of Montmorency-Laval as a second wedding.

The couple will undertake work there, in particular the construction of the parish chapel as well as the pavilion which adjoins it at the entrance to the prospect. In 1833, they initially called on the Swiss architect Froelicher to build a neo-Gothic chapel within the grounds of the park. Mr. Froelicher will then continue a restoration of the castle, which becomes the center of a brilliant life in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mathieu de Montmorency and Victor de Broglie (Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1832 to 1834 then President of the French Council of Ministers) in 1835/1836).

In 1851, on the death of Duke Montmorency-Laval, the castle fell to the Duke's brother-in-law, Count Rodolphe de Maistre, who made it one of the French centers of Catholic thought.

The castle of Beaumesnil leaves the family of Maistre in 1926 following the purchase by the American Audrey Emery who marries the same year in Biarritz the Grand Duke Dimitri Romanov (Russia) in exile, grandson of the assassinated Tsar Alexander II in 1881. Audrey Emery will restore the pavilions on either side of the castle. She divorced the Grand Duke Dimitri Romanov in 1937 and bequeathed the castle to him on this occasion.


The Grand Duke Dimitri Romanov sold it in 1938 to Jean (Hans) Fürstenberg, a Berlin banker who took refuge in France the same year, who made his first name Hans into Jean. He will keep the castle until his death in 1982. The castle then becomes the property of the Beaumesnil-Furstenberg foundation, which continues the work started by its owner, passing on to future generations the collections that have made its owner famous.



The south facade of the castle of Beaumesnil-en-Ouche

Photo. : ©


Beaumesnil-en-Ouche becomes the headquarter of the Beaumesnil-Furstenberg foundation


Jean Furstenberg is an informed collector (and renowned, he has his own ex-libris) of old books that have belonged to great names in history: king, prince, duke, ministers, writers and scholars whose History has retained the names. He will publish very documented catalogs listing the works that have passed through its hands.

But he also collects prints, preparatory drawings for the vignettes, even if in a more modest way.

Jean Furstenberg donated part of his collections to the National Library of France and sold others to major renowned collectors to finance his foundation, recognized as being of public utility in 1966, in charge of perpetuating his heritage. through the bookbinding museum founded in the castle of Beaumesnil (initially in partnership with the National Library of France). Beaumesnil castle having housed part of the archives of the National Library of France during the Second World War.



Norman Versailles: the south facade seen from the side

Photo. : ©


Beaumesnil-en-Ouche, classified and listed Historic Monument

Part of the castle of Beaumesnil has been classified as a Historic Monument since December 20, 1966. The rest of the castle has been listed as a Historic Monument since May 8, 1926 ; its park has also been listed since February 5, 1997.


Beaumesnil-en-Ouche : Historic Monument, museum, cultural centre and gîte 

Links to the websites of the Castle of Beaumesnil :

The castle of Beaumesnil-en-Ouche, the "Norman Versailles",

Gîtes of the castle of Beaumesnil-en-Ouche