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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Jounrées du Patrimoines 2018

"Templars", la maison templière, des visites guidées de l'extérieur et de l'intérieur de cette propriété (12ème - 16ème siècles) par les propriétaires, samedi 15 & dimanche 16 septembre, 14h-18h. Seul vestige d'une commanderie principale et l'une des plus anciennes sites templiers en Dordogne. Venez découvrir notre cave coutée, garçonnière, cheminée monumentale, pigeonnier, grand escalier, meurtriers et plus, un site chargé de presque 900ans d'histoire!
Aussi à Saint Paul la Roche, l'association "Les Amis de la Roche Blanche" vous accueillent au multiple rural (salle du restaurant) pour une exposition de roches, minéraux et de fossiles le samedi 15 septembre de 14h à 18h & le dimanche 16 septembre de 10h à 18h. Buvette, glaces et restauration rapide le dimanche avec « Snackman ». Venez découvrir le Géosite et le parcours de la Roche Blanche (3km environs) tout au long du weekend. Un document est à votre disposition.

Heritage Weekend 2018

"Templars", guided tours of the exterior and interior of this property (12th - 16th centuries) by the owners Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th September, 2pm-6pm. Only surviving remains of a principal commandery and one of the oldest Templar sites in the Dordogne. Discover our vaulted cellar, tower, dovecote, grand staircase, monumental fireplace, loop holes and more, a site charged with almost 900 years of history! 
Also in Saint Paul la Roche: Les Amis de la Roche Blanche invite you to visit an exhibition of rocks, minerals and fossils in the bar/restaurant. Saturday 15th September 2pm-6pm & Sunday16th September10am-6pm. Drinks and ice creams on sale and snacks available on Sunday with « Snackman ». Come and discover the Geological Garden and the Roche Blanche Circuit (3km approx) this weekend. Information sheets available.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Welcome to all our Visitors !

As you can see , "Templars" once again, for the first time in centuries, finds itself at the heart of the community.

Time flies by, a steady flow of people from far and near who came to share the experience of old stones and real history that would not disgrace the pages of fiction.

The "Royal Fire Salamanders" in the cellar thrill everyone who manages to see them skirting the walls and peering from the dampest corners.  They have been joined by "Midwife Toads" who patrol the flagstone stairs feasting on spiders and any insects that come within reach of a deft flick of the tongue.   Tiny "Little Owls" have reared their young again, "Scopes Owls", resembling a huge pair of eyes mounted on chicken feet have taught their two babies to fly and the "Barn Owls" slip out above the latrine and use the columns behind the house as launch and landing pads for their trainee pilots.

Snakes have coiled and twisted, basked in the sun, shed their skins and slithered away in the finery of their new uniforms.

Hundreds of butterflies, each to his own season, grace the dozens of Buddleia bushes.  Our Fennel, 8 feet tall, has hosted the rare "Swallow Tail" caterpillars. The "Hoopoes" came for their yearly visit, the "Golden Orioles" sang from the trees, the "Bullfinches", "Greenfinches", "Goldfinches", "Wrens", "Starlings", "Sparrows" and "Siskins" abound, the "Collar Doves"; the "Ibis" and "Herrons", the frogs and the "Coypus" by the waterside.

Our "Amazon Parrot" and the talking, dancing, singing, "Goffins Cockatoo", shriek to the village 300 yards away as the crow (or parrot ?!)  flies.  Sadly, the "Border Collie" (senior), the "Basset Hound" and
an aged little "Beagle"; deaf, toothless and half blind have now passed away, old age has caught up with them all in the end.  The remaining dog, a "Border Collie" (junior) is now left on ever vigilant patrol.

We sometimes sit and wonder what our lives would have been like if we had never found the courage to trade a normal ambitious life, for the quality of life that we have about us in our odd existance on a French hillside .

Our Blog continues to draw readers from around the world, over 85 countries so far !  We would love to know who they are: we would love them to voice an opinion, ask questions, to be part of a family whose common interest in "Templars" binds us all together.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

"Templars" the house & tower

The village is on the north-east Dordogne border with the Limousin and equidistant between Périgueux, the capital of the Dordogne and Limoges, the capital of the Limousin.

Templars is just outside the village, perched on its hillside as it has been for nearly 900 years.  

The house comprises on the Ground Floor; an Entrance Hall with stone stairs leading down to the Vaulted Cellar with its white quartz floor, "La Roche Blanche" of St Paul and its Spring.  The wide wooden stairs rise up from the Entrance Hall to the floors above. 

The Guard Room is next to the Entrance Hall, both have flagstone floors made of river bed stones and Serpentine, "La Roche Noire" of St Paul.  The Guard Room has an impressive beamed ceiling "A la Française" and even more impressive 12th Century granite Monumental Fireplace.  Where a metal sliding door was put into the front wall of this room turning it into a garage, we have replaced this with a pair of doors with stained glass panels in an old oak surround to create the impression that it was always thus so.

 Leading off of the Guard Room is the Extension which houses the Kitchen, Guest Bedroom, Bathroom, Lobby and Rear Entrance.

As you wind up the original wooden ramp staircase with its landings and half-landings (which occupy a third of the house !) you arrive at the First Floor.  A large Landing with a beautiful stained glass window and stone window seat provide stunning views down the valley.

The Solar has an 18th Century window at the back and a 16th Century Mullioned Window at the front (both with leaded glass windows).  The fireplace has been replaced as the original was stolen.  Once again, a magnificent beamed ceiling and the wooden floor has floorboards from the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. 

Onwards and upwards !   The next Half Landing has a charming window seat with the Renaissance Window and views across the park and lake.  Next to it is The Latrine, still in working order if required ! 

Up to the Second Floor (inside the roof space). On the left you have a low doorway in the whattle and daub wall into The Study.  This room we have left open to the rafters to expose the incredible 13th/14th Century roof timbers (very few examples survive from this period), the pignon wall and the internal stone built Pigeon Loft which is a very rare feature indeed !

Across the landing from The Study is the Master Bedroom.  In here we have added a ceiling for practical reasons.  There are two Lucarne's in this room, one at the back and one at the front, to allow morning and afternoon light into the room.  From the front window you can enjoy wonderful views down the valley and across to the village.  This room has an en-suite WC and basin and a Dressing Room with storage cupboards behind the bed.

Outside, the house is surrounded by its maturing gardens and park which grow more beautiful with each passing year.  The Upper Terrace provides shaded seating and spectacular views, the Rose Garden contains some lovely old fashioned roses and the Column Walk provides a vantage point to admire the features of the house. 

The Park is planted with a variety of trees and shrubs to provide interest and colour all year round, including the Broad Hedge along the lane and at the bottom of The Park is a "Miraculous Spring", said to cure children who suffer from nightmares !


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How it all began .....

From the fall of the Templars in 1307 until the French Revolution in 1789 and the rise of Napoleone Buonaparte as the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 1700's and early 1800's, "Templars" was home to a succession of Comanders and sergeants of the Knights Hospitaller; the Knights of Jerusalem, the Knights of Rhodes and then of Malta.  Whichever of the titles you wish to call them by.

Since the Knights departed the shores of France to continue their good works from more friendly parts; works that continue to this day and grow from strength to strength incidentally : "Templars" has changed hands as part and parcel of a succession of agricultural land deals; providing shelter from time to time for the poorest of paysans but never as a home that was to keep pace with the demands of a fast changing and modernising world.  Nor for that matter was it to be restored or kept in anywhere near perfect or even liveable condition.

A tractor size hole was made in the South West wall (front) in the 1960's. The mullion and transom of the front Renaissance Window in the Solar (1st floor) were wrenched out.  The legs of the Excideuil stone fireplace were heaved from a 7 foot thick chimney breast wall, to be sold for their carving and a tractor, a bulk oil fuel tank, a Renault 6TL and a Citroen BX were to take up residence in the Guard Room (ground floor).  A vain attempt to rid the Guard Room of a hump, caused by the slight rise of the floor over the vaulting of an air shaft through the 14 feet of external wall caused a 25 sq feet hole into the cellar vault, or crypt, again, whatever you choose to call it by.

However, "Templars", "La Maison du Commandeur de la Commanderie de St Paul la Roche", "La Maison Templier", "La Commanderie" and so on, pick a name, we chose "Templars".

"Templars" was intact and unabused, as much as the passage of time and the vagaries of a tribal France with little imagination and as little respect for its own heritage, particularly if the ancient hovel on a hillside does not carry the relevant grandeur to qualify title or uniform, would allow.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How we got involved !

In 2003, a valued customer, an imposing barrister for whom we bowed, scraped, mowed, strimmed and scrubbed in his little holiday château of only twenty something rooms, asked us to find a medieval house for a colleague of his.

"Not as big as mine, not as grand as mine and affordable from a refurbishment point of view for a man not as successful as I".

We kept our eyes open of course but we did not make any great effort, even when an austere grey house presented itself in a give away, estate agents brochure.

For several months the "ugly little grey house" as I'd christened it, was advertised for sale.  We never even read the text.

One wet and windy January lunchtime Chris was flicking through the pages of a property paper and noticed that the grey barrack was still unsold.   As I munched, he read, "Authentic Knights Templar etc. etc.".  To kill time on a vile day I telephoned the agent with our "legal eagle" in mind.

The agent enthused to show us "A house with many authentic features" as soon as we could cover the 25 miles between home and the hovel.

We knew as we drove up the lane that the building we were looking at was special.  On crossing the threshold into the Serpentine flagstone floored Guard Room we were breathtaken by the understated and awed by the almost invisible.

The hewn granite fireplace, its arch towering over us, the proportions of the fabric of a house no bigger in land area than our small farmhouse and barn conversion, were awe inspiring.  A vaulted cellar with stone steps winding underground.  A spring welling into a granite basin in the far corner of that same cellar.   A ramp staircase winding in a series of half landings and landings around a knewel wall; its treads and risers in fact huge beams, set corner to corner as they rise through the house.  Thirteen meurtriers (arrow loops) set into its walls.  A "Latrine" (thunderbox, loo etc.) built into the thickness of the walls.  The soaring beamwork in the high 62° pitched roof with Pigeonnier (split pigeon loft/dovecote) built into the apex of the central chimney wall.

We forgot about the plea for the defence and our call to serve the well healed barrister.

We went home in a state of great excitement and agitation to consider the prospects for us becoming the owners, guardians, restorers and occupiers and to tread ground that had not been trod since the Knights had looked out over "Rupus Sancti Pauli " so many hundred years before.

Ordinary little people who scratch the soil and tug their forelocks to their customers in order to carve a meagre living out of life are not normally destined to be owners of historic buildings are they ?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

And then .....

We put our house on the market.  We signed papers, visited offices, shook hands, shed tears and it was eight months later that we became the owners (along with a whole shoal of French loan-sharks) of a building, important to its local community for hundreds of years.

Our meetings with the architects of the French conservation authorities were an unmitigated success.  What they wanted was exactely what we had envisaged.  We instructed our draughtsman, we sought tradesmen and went to work ourselves to begin the weary process of hacking away at the generations of plaster: in parts, five generations.  The most recent we considered to be early 20th Century, the earliest, decidely pre 15th Century.    Plaster soaked with human blood !  How many hundred years ago ? Traces of burning !  Smoke or soot stains on plaster and stonework, as flame had passed in (or was it out?) through the arrow slots in the three foot thick walls.

Our findings and suppositions I recorded in a spare diary.  Wall painting on 16th Century plaster was unsaveable, so badly damaged in preparation for yet another upgrade to the interior decor in the 18th Century.  Three more bricked up meurtriers, stone seats set into the walls, yet another meurtrier covered by an early 20th Century concrete sink cast into its embrasure came to light.  It seemed to be a thrill a day !

The plans where passed, some funding was loaned by the "sharks" and restoration was under way.  The clearing of land infill behind the house brought to the surface a Knights Templar sarcophagus engraved with their cross and revealed in the rear wall of the house a fortified outlet for the airshaft from the vaulted cellar.

Excitement over our work grew as the results became evident.   Our morale was boosted, if not the coffers, by the great enthusiasm of our neighbours and the village fathers.  The Mayor, disputing the camoflage of the hole made some time during the mid 20th Century in the Guard Room exterior wall (front elevation), gave us the opportunity of divergence from the demands of the "Batiments de France" whose guidance we had sought at the beginning.  With massive wooden structured frameworks in place, I'd received the nod for us to embelish it in stone.   The plans and proportions for a porch, inspired by English village church entrances were completed in a short half an hour !

The "Stop-Go" regime of our restoration was to take over four years and at the onset of Winter, the prospect of the Seasons cold was daunting.  No central heating; the fire of blazing logs and the radiated heat of a canine composter called Ortense whose length is only equalled by her breadth x 2 of her after-dinner girth ! Our blood just managed to stay above freezing !

Liveable "Templars" now was.  An extension houses the modern amenities, a kitchen and a bathroom.   The design we had proposed for the 360 sq feet of relatively modern living space had been prepared in the style and materials of the existing ancient structure.  The plan was to replicate, slighty offset, the end elevation of the house. Same angles, same roof profile: it was rejected out of hand and the official view explained that, "If a property of such antiquity was to be extended to provide missing amenities such as a kitchen, a bath and a flush toilet, then that extension must obviously be of the 21st Century, not a 21st Century copy of something pre-dating by several hundred years !"  So, as you see it now, the sketch of the chief architect of the "Batiments de France" has become our albatros, our reality !   Our sympathetic design relegated to the dustbin.

The window surrounds; oak of massive section to house the modern double glazed frames.  Cut stone arched windows and an "Oeil de boeuf" glazed with hand made leaded and stained glass and an interior open to the roof, in barn or stable fashion, giving a more sympathetic appearance to the appendage.  Yes, with time it will age-down and heal the wound, we hope.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A lesson in history...

Today it seems that all history has to be finite.  So much history from the epochs of days gone by has been dramatised on film and television, that the graphic portrayal, be it Shakespeares plays, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, The American Civil War or the Alamo, has become the reality of historical events.

To our modern minds these portrayals, even to the script contents and location settings represent almost indisputably, the truth, Gerard Depardieu represents the French Revolution, John Wayne, the all American cowboy and a host of actors being the living truth of the history of England, the world.

However, as much as has been revealed by modern science in the realms of archeology, it has to be understood that the greater part of what all but the learned see as the detail of history is often, to a greater extent, literally garnished with imagination, suppostion and speculation applied generously to the mearest traces of factual substance.  When I was at school; long, long ago: the Middle Ages were often known as "The Dark Ages", our history master being reluctant to recognise modern history as starting much before the Tudors. 

"Please Sir, why are they called the Dark Ages Sir?" 

Sir would answer that, "As little was written at the time, to be refered to as an actual history of the period in times to come, almost all knowledge was confined to the Parish Registers, monastic records, church archives and hand-me-down legend that could never be substantiated."

To know all that we can know, will always contain a heavy slice of guesswork; we have to read between the lines of the facts that can be proved, adding conjecture with romanticism and arrive somewhere down the line of "maybes" at a suitably plausable dramatisation of probabilities.

Knights Templar in their chainmail and white surcoats emblazoned with the red splayed cross, the logo of the order. The Knights Hospitalier, their white, eight pointed cross dramatically displayed against sheer black. Gregorian chants, Brother Cadfael, The DaVinci Code and the clash of sword against sword.  The hiss of blazing crossbow bolts being let loose and flying on their deadly path towards enemies unseen as you hammer on the door to take shelter within.

Wonderful stuff, wild imagination, the thrill of boy's own comics and perhaps just a grain or two of truth long lost in the annuls of time.  After all, their was Bernardus de Villaribus (Bernard de Villars) and his men snatched away on Friday 13th 1307 to be incarcerated at Limoges, to be later transported to Clermont-Ferrand and finally to Paris to stand trial for acts against God and the King.  FACT.

Who and how many came in the name of the Protestant Church to wreak slaughter on the inhabitants of La Roche St Paul ?   How much blood flowed ?  What became of the corpses of the monkish Knights, Brothers and villagers ?  Did anyone survive that day in 15-- and what year was it actually ?   Ah !  But FACT.

Later, perhaps in 1588 or 1589/90. When the Knights Hospitaliers came home to repair the damage; modernise and improve the ruined remains of the gutted Commandery and let their lot then be supervised from the mother Commandery at Condat, what did that day bring ?  TRUE.  But.

When did they leave for good ?   Who turned the key in the lock at that final moment and was the removal van there waiting with its engine running ? Where did they go ?  Driven out or of their own volition ?  To foreign parts or to Condat first before a greater gathering of the clan and then, off to pastures new or was it a final last stand against the generals of the thrusting young emperor ?

We build our stories on a mere thread of evidence and exciting they are too but not history.   No more than historical drama.

However !

Historically we know..... The house now standing here, on its bare hillside, was built over a spring and against an enormous gism of pure white quartz by the Knights Templar on land given around 1140 as a donation to their cause and in support of the Crusades by Guy Flamenc de la Roche Saint-Paul, Seigneur du Château de Bruzac and Overlord of St Paul la Roche at the time.
The first Knights Templar arrived in the Périgord in 1138, by invitation of the Bishop, so this was an early and important site, rapidly becoming one of the most important Commanderies in the Périgord.

We know that the Commandery was laid to siege in 1143 over contested rights of ownership of the land. With Guy Flamenc with his friends, The Knights Templar against Adhémar IV (1110-1148, 12th Viscount) and his brother Guy (1113-1148, 13th Viscount), Co-Viscounts of Limoges along with their ally Bozon II (1110-1143), 8th Viscount of Turenne and brother-in-law of Adhémar IV who had married in 1134 his sister, Margaret (1119-1202).  We know that Bozon II was killed by an arrow and the frightened Co-Viscounts of Limoges lifted the siege in December 1143.

Dispute of ownership was then set aside and as archives reveal, heavy horses were reared on the lands, to be driven south and embarked on a voyage to the Holy Land.
We know that "Templars" and its small adjacent Garconnière (literally a "boy tower" or "batchelor pad") is on the route of pilgrimage to Saint Jacques de Compostela.

We know that Richard the Lionheart passed by ( but how close we know not !) around the time of his attack on Chalus which resulted in his death.   How close did he come ?  Did he perhaps stop at the Commandery to take fresh horses ?   Bed down for the night even, before the final 15 mile push to Chalus ?

We do not know, it is doubtful that we ever will.   It is possible; it is not improbable but it is a romantic notion and that it will remain, not history.   Mearly a wonderfully imaginative, inspiring, historical fiction.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Back to the present day.

The restoration is ongoing and an exciting find, under mud , silt, earth and debris has been the original floor of the cellar.

At an average depth of 18" I struck stone.  It proved to be slabs of schist, about 50% of a floor.  Thinking ourselves lucky to have so much left intact we sought to lift the stones, trench around the walls to put in a perforated drain pipe, remove a 4" slice of soil and replace it with impacted shingle and re-lay the slabs, standing to chance to acquire the rest.

No such luck.   The spade struck hard with a shower of sparks and slid !   I followed as the spade sped away passing neatly under a biscuit of compressed soil.  Crash !

What had revealed itself is a cut and napped quartz floor under the schist slabs.  A lined diagonal drain is cut into the quartz and the evidence is that the quartz floor is original 12th Century.   We have found coinage wedged between the quartz blocks in witness to its medieval origins.

Mother died, her legacy helped enormously.  We committed ourselves to a programme of leaded stained glass windows and limed oak and chestnut woodwork in the style of manufacture of the 15th - 17th Centuries.

Copper guttering, cutstone work in stone sympathetic to the project from as far away as Spain and Alsace; the Sarcophagous destined to be moved into the cellar (will that make it a crypt then ?) before too long as it is starting to suffer the effects of drying out to the detriment of the carving.

"Templars" is like a living museum, we live their with trappings and object d'art from every era of history to the present day.  A programme of maintenance of the existing will have to be budgeted after the cost of living and repayments of loans, forever to be the monthly nightmare as they are for so many of us, eh ?

"Templars" was saved from the bailiffs in a moment of crisis with the French loan sharks.  Two years into the restoration, thirteen individuals, family and friends, from around the world put together a package enabling us to, with great difficulty, get the sharks and their menaces out of our hair.  When finally our house sold, the brave and generous 13 were repaid and they will forever be part and parcel of the story of our quest to save "Templars" as intact as possible for the benefit of history and the interest of younger and future generations.

At the end of these posts you will find space for your comments, thoughts, observations and participation. Your inclusion in this site will be of great importance to us and I must say, we have not set up the blog as a begging bowl, just as a means to share our enthusiasm and excitement of such an unusual project.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Myth & Mystery !!

Now that we have finished the unpacking and have got more used to our wonderful new home we have come to realise something very odd about it !

We have noticed that the wall between the cellar and the stairs is three times as thick as the same wall on the ground floor, why ??   Also, when you walk on a certain stone in the Guard Room there is a hollow ring, again, why ??  We are hoping to find someone with suitable land X-ray equipment to help us investigate this latest mystery at "Templars" !

Could it be a secret passage ?  Could it be the lost Treasure of the Knights Templar ?  Could it be a tomb of one of the Commanders ?  Could it hold old documents ?  Could it be nothing at all ??

We will keep you posted !!

We have had a lot of visitors who have been very interested in the property and its history and have been very kind with their comments about the work we have done so far, thank you very much indeed !!

They have also asked about the famous "Roche Blanche" of St Paul la Roche.    I have done some research and have found that it was a lump of white quartz ( the purest in the world no less !!) of which traces of equal purity have only been found in a small area in Africa.   This quartz is "cleeved" and has been the subject of scientific investigations since the 1930's.  These include detailed studies and visits by the Mineralogical Society, The 3rd International Congress and Symposium of the International Union of Crystallography in 1954 and numerous visits over many years by Francois Kraut (1907 - 1983), Philippe Lambert, and the latest to date by Claudia Trepmann in 2006.

The lump of quartz was between 40m and 50m high with a circumference of approx 600m !!

The white quartz is simply Cristalline Silicon Dioxide ( Si02 ) the most common element on the planet from which all quartz is made.   The differences between the different quartz are due to mineral deposits, heat, weather and position.   Diamonds, amythests and aquamarines are all quartz to name but a few.   The Greeks called it "Frozen Light", "Snow Quartz" or "Ice of Eternity" as they thought it was formed by severe cold, hence the Greek name meaning "frozen ice".

The White Quartz is also pyroelectric and piezoelectric which means its polarity changes with heat and pressure, even holding a piece in your hand will do it !

The quartz is "cleeved" as a result of great heat or shock.  This has now been proven by scientists after decades of debate as the area had been hit by meteorites millenia ago and the argument raged over whether the quartz was from outer space and landed here or was here already and was hit by the meteorite.  It has now been proven that the quartz was already here and was forced out of the ground by natural tectonic movement, the meteorite landings near by where just a coincidence.  "Cleeved" means that the quartz delaminates into very fine slices rather like slate and the lines are visible to the naked eye, further rare examples have now been found in Angola.

So much for the facts !  Now the "Myth and Mystery" !!

Legend has it that the quartz was on part of the land donated to the Knights Templar in the 12th Century and that they raised a large wooden cross on the top as a guide for travellers and pilgrims.  Buried in the huge lump of quartz were found Knights Templar, perhaps a final resting place for the Commanders of the Commandery ?  No trace of these bodies remains, the last having been used in the local school for the children to study the human skeleton !

Even after the Knights Templar had left St Paul la Roche the local people would climb on top of the great rock after the religious processions to mark the Feast Day of St Paul (29th June) and the Rogation Days and attend Mass around the great cross.  These hark back to earlier pagan customs as the inhabitants had always viewed the great lump of white quartz as a symbol of purity and divinity.  Even in the 19th Century young maidens would attach a pin to the cross in the hope that a young man would take it and claim its owner as his bride or rub themselves against it to become pregnant within the year !!

Sadly this is all folklore now.  The great lump of quartz which was still a local landmark in the 1900's ( and is seen on local postcards, towering next to the village and church) has all but gone.  A few chunks and a great hole in the ground is all that is left.  The purity of the quartz was its undoing.   It was used in Limoges in the making of the finest porcelain and had a number of industrial and electricial uses.   As demand increased the methods of extraction increased also, from manual labour to dynamite !

Upon blasting the quartz one day they discovered a natural "pyramid" shaped lump which a lot of people would have liked to have kept as a souvenir of the "Roche Blanche".  Sadly, that too has gone the way of the rest as NASA had need of the quartz for the optical lenses in its space telescopes and for the heat resistant tiles for the Apollo Missions and the Space Shuttle !!

The other question raised is "What properties does the quartz have ?"

Again, after extensive research, I have found that the white quartz is a general conducteur of energies to help with meditation and that it can receive and transmit cosmic energies and be used to enhance the powers of other stones and crystals for healing etc.   It is connected to the Archangel Rafeal and concentrates and clarifies the mind and with its natural prismatic effect can help with the seven Chakras and activate all levels of conciousness.  It is all a question of belief and faith.

Did the pagans worship it ?  Did the Knights Templar consider it a beacon of purity and divinity or something more than that ?  Why did they pave the cellar floor with white quartz blocks ?  Then there are the tales of Ley Lines running through the area, do they run through the "Roche Blanche" ??!!   So many questions, so many theories, so many choices; we will never fully understand !

The white quartz has also been found in some Medieval graves in Ireland and in some graves in England and Wales ( Kellington Church, Whithorn etc.).     Were the stones put their as a symbol of purity and devotion or to help the soul of the departed into the next life ?  Did the stones come from here, via the international network of the Knights Templar ??  The Museum of Cultural History of the University of Oslo has a gold ring with a piece of white quartz in it found in the tomb of Prince Witzlau (13th Century), again, did the stone come from St Paul ??

So many questions !!!

All we know is that it is a fascinating subject with so many different points of view and directions to explore !

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Journées du Patrimoine 2009 - 2017



Les Journées du Patrimoine 2017
Saturday 16th & Sunday 17th September once more saw Templars open to the public. This year Chris had a foot injury so had to hobble around aided by a walking stick which was tiring but well worth the effort. Both of us were rushed off our feet as we had almost 300 visitors this year, a record number!!  Many thanks to all those who came to share our house and its history, it does make all the hard work and effort so worthwhile and we hope to see more of you in the future! 

Remember, "Templars" can be visited free of charge, by appointment, from April until October each year.

 Les Journées du Patrimoine 2016.
Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th September we opened our doors in the afternoons despite the weather being cloudy and cooler than recent days. 

Yet again we were surprised and humbled by the number of people who came to look around our home. Thank you to one and all !  We had 150 visitors, 8 nationalities and some interesting questions and comments, we shall look forward to the 2017 edition !

 Les Journées du Patrimoine 2015.
"Templars" was once again open to the public for guided tours during the European Heritage Weekend on Saturday  19th and Sunday 20th September 2015.

We were delighted to welcome over 150 visitors and would like to thank them all for their enthusiasm, interest and kind comments. Thank You.

  Les Journées du Patrimoine 2014.
We opened our house to the public on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September as part of Les Journées du Patrimoine and as part of an historical and geological circuit, organised by the tourist offices of Jumilhac-le-Grand and Lanouille.

The weather was kind to us, hot and sunny. Over the two days we had over 100 visitors. They left some very kind comments in the visitors book, now forming part of the history of the property, and it was a pleasure to share with them our home and share their knowledge and enthusiasm, we would like to thank them all.

We look forward to seeing many more of you in 2015, either by appointment between April and October or during the Journées du Patrimoine in September 2015 !

 Les Journées du Patrimoine 2013.
Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th September 2013 were rather wet and windy with a few rays of sunshine late on the Sunday afternoon.   Despite the weather we had around 80 visitors over the two afternoons.  Those that came were very interested in the history of the building and what we had done with it.  They were also very interesting to talk with and it was nice to have the time to chat, not always the case when a lot of people visit ! 

 Les Journées du Patrimoine 2012. 2012 saw slightly fewer visitors than 2011.  We opened on the 15th and 16th September for the afternoons and the sun shone !   The people who came were very interested and very interesting and we had a chance to chat with everyone as the groups were smaller. 

Les Journées du Patrimoine 2011. 
17th and 18th September 2011, we opened our doors once again to the public.  Over the 2 afternoons we had just over 100 visitors.  Once again, our thanks to all those who came, we had a great time and your enthusiasm and presence encourages us to continue with the work as and when time and funds permit. 

Les Journées du Patrimoine 2010.
Following the success of 2009 we opened again in 2010, the 18th and 19th September.

This time we worked with "Les Amis de la Roche Blanche", an association dedicated to preserving the memory of the quartz and the site at St Paul la Roche.  They held an exhibition in the Salle des Fêtes and we opened on the Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.  It seemed to work well, visitors could see our house and the exhibition, 2 for the price of 1 !

The weather was wonderful: this time, blue sky, mild and sunny, we had between 200 - 250 visitors over the 2 days !!

Apologies to those who had to wait at times or perhaps did not get the chance to see everything properly (come back in 2011 !) - at times we really felt that we were under invasion !

Having said that, we found it as much of a thrill and pleasure to share our home with so many people who are interested in the heritage and history of France, it really does make all the hard work so worth while.  Again, we had a great number of wonderful comments covering many pages in our Visitors Book which has now become part of the history of the house.

Les Journées du Patrimoine 2009.

We were asked to open our house to the public on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September 2009 for the European Heritage Weekend - Les Journées du Patrimoine.   Despite the showery weather and the fact that it was the first time we had been asked officially to participate, we had a great time !

It was exciting seeing our house printed in the offical magazine for the Aquitaine Region and putting up signs and posters in readiness for the afternoon visits.  It was worrying not knowing who would turn up.  We had over 20 visitors on the Saturday at a steady pace which meant we had the time to show everyone around the outside and inside of our home.

The Sunday was quite different !  We had about 100 visitors in the afternoon and we did our best !!

Hopefully everyone who came enjoyed the tours and I know that we enjoyed sharing our home and its history with so many people.  We have page after page filled in our Visitors Book with some wonderful comments, by so many of the visitors; thank you very much indeed !!  We had an impressive mix of nationalities - English, French, Dutch, Belgian, German, Swedish and American !!