There are only two of these buildings left. The actual owner, Fortuné Guillon de Rochecotte, major of the cavalry, elevated to the noble rank of Marquis by Louis XVI, first built stables in their place followed by a two story house with slanted roof. The walls more than one meter thick, lit by three junctions at dusk and at midday by three glass doors opened onto a balcony.
The grandson, Louis Fortuné, his heir, migrates then joins the “Chouannerie”. Betrayed by one of his officers, he was executed. Rochecotte was abandoned during the French Revolution.
The Duchess of Dino buys Rochecotte, a 446 acres of forest and six farms. Dorothée, fourth daughter of the Duc of Courlande, marries Count Edmond of Talleyrand Perigord in 1805, with the insistence of her uncle Talleyrand and the endorsement of the Tsar of Russia. Together they have two sons and a daughter, Pauline. The couple separates after a few years. Dorothée is now free and Talleyrand very quickly recognizes her exceptional political qualities.
Extremely pretty, thin and gracious, with added charm and intelligence, she accompanies Talleyrand to the Congress of Vienna, where she was greatly admired. Their collaboration will last until the end of Talleyrand’s life, at which time she becomes the ambassador to England under Louis Philippe.
The Duchess will undertake major works. She completes the Chateau by having a second house built symmetrical to the first. She joins it to the main building with two entrances at the centre, one on top of the other and each with four identical columns surmounted by a triangular pediment with the coat of arms of the Talleyrand Périgord. A perpendicular terrace wing with Italian pillars rests on the ground floor apartments and the whole structure opens onto French gardens. The Duchess embellishes it and makes her new abode welcoming and comfortable.
On January 5th, she writes, ‘I have a real passion for Rochecotte. It belongs to me and it has the most beautiful view in the world’. She opens her doors to many guests at Rochecotte, Talleyrand and his political friends and amongst others, Thiers, the future President of the Republic. It is at Rochecotte that the newspaper, “Le National”, is created, a journal of opposition to Charles X at the beginning of the revolution in July. Let us quote Guizot again, who spoke of her after her death and said, ‘She is a rare and grand person’.
Balzac and others frequented the salons of the Duchess. After Talleyrand’s death, the Duchess who often worked with Abbé Dupanloup, had a chapel built off the terrace, in gratitude for the reconciliation of the Prince with the church.
A few years later, the Duchess decides to regain the Domaine of Sagan, the size of a principality, inherited from her sister Wilhemine. In 1878, she donates Rochecotte to her daughter Pauline, wife of Henri, the Marquis of Castellane.
Three generations of Castellane will follow. The Marquis of Castellane dies at a very young age from a horse’s fall. Pauline will live very isolated at Rochecotte, but still has a very important social role. She creates a foundation in the village, a school, a church and intervenes very firmly for the implantation of the train station at Saint-Patrice.
In 1890, Pauline dies and leaves Rochecotte to her son Alexander. His son, Boni, famous dandy of the “Belle Epoque”, spends his childhood at Rochechotte and it is there that he organizes a magnificent three day party to celebrate his marriage with the extremely wealthy American, Anna Gould. Stanislas, the brother of Boni, inherits Rochecotte, but does not keep it. In 1934 he sells it to his brother-in-law, the architect and decorator of Cuban origin, Emilio Terry. During thirty five years, he restores and decorates the Chateau.
In 1940, Rochecotte experiences a particular episode. The French government, fearing that the German army will soon arrive in Paris, decides to evacuate the archives of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in different Chateaux of Touraine the most precious archives to Rochecotte at the Girolet foundation. Alas, after a mistake of the activists, the Germans will discover the layette containing the original and unique document of the Treaty of Versailles, signed in the Hall of Mirrors on June 25th, 1919 by Clemenceau – stamp containing ‘minerve’ and head of an owl and ratified by Poincaré. The Treaty was given to the Gestapo under the large cedar tree which stands in front of Rochecotte today and a few days later to the Fürher. Unfortunately, it is said to have burnt in his railroad car.
Emilio Terry dies in 1969. He gives the Chateau to Henri-Jean de Castellane, who does not live there. The Chateau stays closed for many years.
On January 16, 1978, the last Castellane sells the Chateau and the Domaine of 446 acres to the Marcel Joly company, who takes it apart and disperses the furniture, including a large portrait of Marie de Castellane, Princess Radzivill by Edouard Louis Dubufe and ‘l’Ete’, statue in terra cotta by J.B. Carpeaux, as well as the library and many historical souvenirs of the Prince of Talleyrand.
The abandoned property is bought and restored by the Pasquier family, who transform it into what it is today, a luxurious Chateau hotel. The Chateau rediscovers its original vocation as a hotel and is now open to the public.
Translation by Joanne, Duchesse de la Grandière