Monday, 22 June 2009

L (and K) are for...


(château of)

Loches differs in many aspects from the other French chateaux I've featured for the Ravelry abc-along in that it is made up of several buildings over quite a large area of the town.  The picture above is of the Royal Lodge which was  either designed, built and occupied by Henry II of England and his son Richard the Lionheart in the 12th century, or captured and occupied, or inherited and occupied... I haven't been able to find many agreeing sources as yet...  It was (re-)captured by the French in the early 13th century and turned into quite the military fortress.  Whatever the real story is, it was certainly built on the remains of a much earlier fortress or castle of some sort.
the lodge from the other side and yes, on a different day.  how can you tell?

Running up to the Royal Lodge you find the Chapel of St Ours. (which confusingly translates as Saint Bear... maybe I should leave it in French...)  A chapel has been on the site since the 5th century, but the current chapel was built between the 10th and 12th centuries.  And it has pretty stained-glass windows, too!  (Oo - shiny moment!)

rather small and unasuming from the outside...

...but more than enough room to swing a cat on the inside

oooo - shiny

The Romanesque portal is pretty stunning, too, even though most of the paint  on the fabulous monsters depicted there has since faded.

owls, gryphons, monkeys, acrobats...

But that's not all, no indeed not.  There is also the imposing Keep and dungeon...  (And this is where I cunningly add my 'K' abc-along mini-postette...) 

the keep

There are rather a lot of buildings that encorporate the Keep - including the Barbican, the Governor's residence, the Louis XI tower, medieval gardens etc, but it is the dungeon that is the most thought-provoking and, to be honest, sinister...  The cylindrical dungeon of Cardinal Balue, the torture chamber, and other dungeons that had wall carving and general medieval graffiti.  I have to admit that the whole place gave me the willies...

The Keep, on the other hand, give me the willies for altogether different reasons... It is possible, by means of very old stone stairs and wire mesh landing stages, to climb up to the top of the enormous structure.  There are no floors nor a roof left, so climbing up the inside, next to the wall, is not for the faint of heart. 

that black blob lower left is me,
too scared to go any higher

I got up a few floors, but my intrepid sister climbed all the way to the top and took some great photos.  One of which I'll nick and show here:

 the royal lodge and the four towers of st ours in the distance

Yes, she is mad.  It was quite windy that day too, if I remember rightly...

Aye, Loches isn't a bad wee hunting lodge as hunting lodges go...  And a little extra-special as the town of Loches is twinned with my home town back in Scotland!  Nice!


Susan Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 02:51:00 BST  

I like this castle the best so far, and you're very tricky getting in the K.

Cassandra Tuesday, 23 June 2009 at 07:59:00 BST  

Oh, gorgeous! I love ruined castles, this keep is fabulous. Nice photos!

Juliette37 Wednesday, 24 June 2009 at 11:32:00 BST  

merci pour ce joli reportage sur notre château ! L'office du Tourisme de Loches devrait t'embaucher ;-)
Mais quel dommage d'être passée là sans que nous ayons l'occasion de nous rencontrer !
J'espérais te rencontrer enfin en chair et en os à Tours lors de la journée mondiale du tricot mais, las ...
Peut-être samedi à la foire aux toisons de Bossay sur Claise ou dimanche à Crissay-sur Manse ?

Iron Needles Saturday, 27 June 2009 at 14:44:00 BST  

Very nice, indeed. I am loving your abc's this year.

Mair Bloag Weejits

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Heh! I'm so funny!

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