Looking for an unusual last-minute Christmas gift for the person who has everything?
For €51 (£46) anyone can become part-owners of a crumbling medieval French château as part of a crowdfunding campaign.
The campaign to buy the 15th-century fortress château at Ebaupinay comes a year after a similar successful campaign to purchase the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers to save it from ruin or being razed by developers.
Interested donors have until Christmas Day to help fund the project. For their first €50, donors will be given free entrance for life, invited to participate in decisions over the château’s restoration, and to take part in the project.
Each donor will be offered shares in a company established to run the building for an extra €1 for each €50 donated, making them official co-owners.
Ebaupinay, with its elegant but crumbling round towers and crenellated parapet, was built during the hundred years war in late Gothic style, at Le Breuil-sous-Argenton in Poitou-Charentes in western France. King Louis XI is believed to have spent the night there, but the château was severely damaged by fire in 1793.
The organisers have already raised the €550,000 (£497,000) to purchase the property but need at least €100,000 (£90,300) more for essential repair works to make it safe.
Crowdfunding to save historic buildings is a new idea in France and was started by the private company Dartagnans, which took its inspiration from Britain’s National Trust.
“We want to show not only that we can save our country’s monuments and heritage without asking for taxpayers’ money but to prove that we have a business model that works,” Dartagnans founder, Romain Delaume, said.
“If we can demonstrate this, then the model can be used for all manner of historical buildings, including abbeys and churches.”
He said 186 Britons were among the 8,000 people who had made donations to the project.
“People who have contributed like the idea of owning part of a castle, being a little bit seigneur (lord) or châtelaine (keeper of a castle), and feeling at home there,” Delaume added.
Dartagnans’ aim is to save Ebaupinay by transforming it into a vast medieval construction site using original techniques to rebuild and restore the château. As well as inviting part-owners and friends to take part in the restoration, the building works will be open to the public. At Guédelon in Burgundy, featured in the BBC Two series Secrets of the Castle, a team is rebuilding a medieval estate from scratch using original methods.
Delaume added: “We will also be using local workers on the project so it will create jobs.”
The property will be overseen by an executive committee that will consult a general assembly of co-owners for decisions.
Dartagnans launched its first campaign last year to buy the 13th-century La Mothe-Chandeniers in the Poitou-Charentes region. More than €830,000 (about £750,000) was raised by almost 28,000 donors. The château, 200 miles south-west of Paris, was captured twice by the English in the Middle Ages and was ransacked during the French revolution. It was damaged by fire in 1932. Since the crowdfunding campaign it has been open to the public.
Share this post if you enjoyed! 🙂