Didn’t get to the Expo at Caen this last weekend. Instead on Sunday we went for a “walk down memory lane” with our neighbours, visiting the chateau at Briqueboscq, and then the water mill at Belle Fontaine – in process of being restored.
Francis spent his childhood around the chateau, but had never been inside. Unfortunately this was not possible on Sunday either. But the exterior was well worth a look, and the history of the place as told by the present owner, though somewhat repetitive and dry at times, was interesting.
More interesting was Francis’s memories of the German occupation of the chateau; and the factory in the grounds producing rocket bombs to be aimed at London.(On the way back through Les Pieux Francis pointed out the foundations of the Post Office, saying that in the war it had been a German block-house (the foundations still visible) with guns trained onto the road coming south from Cherbourg.)
We were allowed a look inside the gite that now takes up one section of the house. It has many of the original features – the fireplace, the doorways, the beams – plus some items of historical interest reworked as furniture, or simply for decoration, placed there by the owners. Will take up to eight people, but we didn’t get the price – probably much more expensive than ours!
The mill at Belle Fontaine is under process of restoration – with a long way to go yet. So far, one of two water-wheels has been restored and is in working order.
The millstones are in place, but the cog mechanisms are in need of much work, as is the whole of the interior of the buildng. An enthusiastic band of volunteers, sponsored by, amongst others, EDF – have done the research, and begun the process of restoration.
For the journee de patrimoine they were there to explain the workings of the mill, and raising money by selling craft works, and crepes cooked on the open fire of the mill. It appears to be part of a whole movement of restoration and revival of old traditions, alongside the windmill at Fierville, and groups like the Battous de Cotentin, and the folklore group St. Ergouffe at Surtainville.
EDF is involved in researching alternative, renewable energy sources. Is its sponsorship of groups such as these part of looking for these renewable sources?