“Le Four à pain” means “the bread oven”. Circa 1650 – 1939). This building was originally much smaller, rounded in shape, perhaps 3 metres square and about 2 or 3 metres high, for it was the innards of a bread oven! It had a tiled roof and it was entirely filled with rock and earth as insulations over a brick bread oven.

Bread ovens were quite large – there can been seen a flat spatula on the wall, found on the other side of the bread oven where there was a kind of kitchen-house, gives you an idea of the size. The bread oven was constructed by first building a stone base or platform which was then covered in brick. Earth and sticks were then carefully and symmetrically built over this, Roman arch style. On top was piled the earth and stones, and finally a small building with retaining walls and a roof was built around the whole thing. From the oven door side, the earth mould was then scraped away.

The building on the other side was in use as a kind of extra kitchen or bakery for the Chateau till during the second world war, when the Chateau became empty, and the bread made here fed not only the Chateau family but all staff and labourers and their families too.

The bread oven was demolished at some time after the war to make way for an open-fronted barn where, along with a barn next door, animals were housed. That in turn was abandoned as the Chateau family diminished and the lands were sold off.

When the Broughton-Tompkins bought the property in 1995, this gite was little more than a derelict shed.

Posted on September 1, 2011 by Jake
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