Located halfway along the road connecting Argentan to Sées, Médavy represents a stronghold of the Duchy of Normandy since the 12th century. Little is known about the first fortress, which was probably destroyed between 1417 and 1449 during the invasion of the French kingdom by the English army.
The development of the domain as from the 15th century and the construction of the present castle (1704-1725): the Rouxel de Médavy family
Soon after the end of the Hundred Years’ War, the Rouxel de Médavy family acquires the estate. It will remain in their possession for about two hundreds and fifty years (until 1730). A first castle is built and the domain is expended through the acquisition of neighbouring lands.
The family’s wealth increases after Pierre Rouxel de Médavy rallies behind King Henry IV: Médavy becomes a barony in 1596 and Pierre Rouxel is appointed governor of Argentan, an office that will remain in the family up to 1725. The course of the Orne river is then diverted in order to fill the moats with white water, which causes a raising of the new castle’s ground level of 1,5 to 2 meters compared with the former castle. Four towers are built at the four corners of the quadrangle formed by the moats. Only two remain today: the Saint-Jean tower and the Saint-Pierre tower.
Pierre Rouxel’s wedding to Charlotte de Hautemer brings the county and château de Grancey in Burgundy into his family.
Many members of the Rouxel de Médavy family will distinguish themselves in battle. Two of them will even be appointed Marshals of France: Jacques Rouxel in 1651 and his grandson Jacques-Léonor Rouxel in 1724. It is to the latter that we owe most of the present château de Médavy, which he decided to build between 1704 and 1725, the year he died. The castle is a classical style construction of the beginning of the 18th century. Its architecture is attributed to the Gabriel family, native of Argentan, and to Robert de Cotte, Louis XIV’s architect, following on with Mansart.
The last major renovations in Médavy and the French Revolution: the Thiroux family
The château changes ownership several times before being acquired in 1754 by Pierre Thiroux de Monregard, one of the King’s farmers-general, general intendant and administrator of the postal service and relays of France, and later first valet de chambre of King Louis XVI in 1789. It was around this time that the grand staircase and the dovecote were built. Furthermore, the land of Médavy is turned into an earldom by King Louis XV in 1769.
The 1789 Revolution causes the exile of the Monregard family: Pierre Thiroux de Monregard dies abroad in 1792, the furniture is scattered in 1794 and the castle is left uninhabited for ten years. In order to reconstitute his father’s estate, Charles Thiroux de Monregard incurs substantial debts. He demolishes everything that still remained from the first castle of the Rouxel family, except for the kitchen and the towers. The château is eventually sold in 1812 under the creditors’ pressure. It will remain uninhabited until 1820.
Property of the La Roque / Maussion family for a century, from 1820 to 1919
Madame de La Roque purchases the château in 1820, refurbishes and inhabits it all year round until the end of her life in 1855.
The château is rehabilitated once more in 1867 by the Countess de Maussion, an indirect heiress of Madame La Roque. When she dies in 1896, the domain of Médavy covers a total area of 325 hectares.
The heirs of Jean de Maussion, the Countess de Maussion’s son, sell Médavy in 1919 to Henri de Peyerimhoff de Fontenelle, councillor of state, industrialist, chairman of the Central Committee of French coal mines, and member of the Institut de France.
The recent history of Médavy
Monsieur de Peyerimhoff will reside periodically with his family in Médavy. The château was miraculously spared by the bombardments during the Normandy landing battles in 1944. Monsieur de Peyerimhoff dies in 1963 and his heirs auction off the estate in several lots.
The château is then bought by the General de Grancey, governor of Les Invalides, who turns it into a holiday home for his family. The General de Grancey, passionate about the history of the Rouxel de Médavy / Grancey family, which he thought he descended from, gathered a great number of objects and documents related to the marshals from the Grancey and Médavy families in the château de Médavy.
When the General de Grancey dies in 1975, Médavy is sold to Monsieur Maurice Rey and his wife, who since 1968 were already owners of the farm and the outbuildings where they created a stud farm. The castle was opened to the public for the first time during the summer of 1976. The great storm of December 1999 seriously damaged all the roofs. When Monsieur Rey died brutally in 2004 after falling off a horse, his widow sold the château de Médavy to its current owner.
Since 2005, the facades, rooftops and moats have been completely redone, and the Saint-Pierre tower has been refurbished. The reception rooms have been refurnished for the enjoyment of the visit which ends with a collection of maps and globes.