30 May 2010

Alfred de Vigny and Le Maine Giraud, Charente (16), France

Le Maine Giraud manor - now in part a museum remembering Alfred de Vigny, the 19th century romantic poet - was built and altered between the 12th and the 15th centuries, and belonged to Vigny between 1827 and his death in 1863.

Vigny inherited it from his aunt Sophie de Baraudin, who was his mother's elder sister. He had first seen it in 1823, when he was 26 and a military captain, and had been very impressed. His grandfather, the Marquis of Baraudin, was an admiral who wished to remain close to the ports Rochefort and La Rochelle.

On Vigny's inheriting it, the manor was in a bad state of repair, but instead of selling it he decided to restore it bit by bit.

One restoration of note is one of the towers (interior photos below), where he wrote La Mort du loup La Bouteille à la mer, and parts of other poems.

Le Maine Giraud, near Champagne-Vigny, Charente.

The bust of Vigny at le Maine Giraud.

Two different plaques at the entrance to the building.

The former dining room, which contains many things, including:

A bust of Vigny.A modern sketch of Vigny.

The last page of Vigny's marriage contract.

Vigny's tiny room, with twisting stairs leading up to it, where he went to write and relax.

Today, cognac is distilled on the premises, and this is an example of the wine they sell.

A quotation in the parking lot at Champagne-Vigny reads:

'Il y a dans le pays le moins connu de l'Angoumois, une chaîne de collines qui s'étend vers la mer, sans se briser et qui forme des sinuosités dont les aspects sont toujours imprévus et pittoresques...'.

'There is in the least known land of l'Angoumois a chain of hills reaching down toward the sea, unbroken and so sinuous, always unexpected and picturesque.'

There is a monument to Vigny in Champagne-Vigny.

Vigny's name is well-remembered in this village.

L'Église St Christophe is where Vigny went with his wife, Lydia Bunbury, to mass when he was staying at le Maine Giraud.

Vigny presented the church with the statue of the Madonna and child which stands on the lefthand side of the entrance to the chancel. It once stood in a corner in Sophie de Baraudin's bedroom.

Vigny was the godfather of the church bell, and his name is etched on it.

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