The Chateau

Chateau des Lys Weddings

Tim & Margreeth Alexander

The Chateau des Lys

The Chateau was built in 1850 as a hunting lodge before being extended as a Jesuit College and is now the residence of Tim and Margreeth Alexander who hire it out for weddings, seminars, groups and Bed & Breakfast. It lies on a chalk plateau overlooking the Somme Estuary and is equidistant to the historical coastal towns St. Valery sur Somme, Le Crotoy and the ancient market town of Abbeville. It lies 100km from the Channel Tunnel, 300km south of Holland. The surrounding grounds comprise about 15 acres of wooded parkland.

Bernadette Muller

A small potted history

We’re discovering more about the history of the Château and the surrounding area every day. The Somme valley has of course been the setting for many important events since prehistoric times. Julius Caesar launched his English invasion here. The shipwrecked Harold Godwinson of Wessex was imprisoned in St. Valery before being released by William the Conqueror who later assembled his own invasion fleet in the bay when Harold reneged on his promise to make William king of England.

The tower where Harold was imprisoned still exists. Other Anglo French differences were settled at Crecy and Azincourt, anglicised to “Agincourt” to add insult to injury, both sites are close by and well worth visiting. Joan of Arc was also imprisoned in St. Valery- the gate she passed through on the way to execution and much of the mediaeval town is still largely intact and absolutely lovely. One could carry on forever- try here for starters

Sailly le sec was once a separate village and became conjoined to neighbouring Flibeaucourt in 1908. The etymology is probably Roman, salix meaning willow & salicelum becomes the place of the willows, the Latin implying it was named when Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. Not much remains of the mediaeval village as it was razed by the Spanish in 1823 and now the oldest part is the other Chateau housing the Mairie.

The first phase of our Château des Lys began in 1850. A Parisian railway magnate called Sangnier built the front house as a hunting lodge including smithies and accommodation for his servants, these have now become gîtes or self catering holiday lets. Originally the estate was much larger and incorporated the now separated "potager" or walled garden and much of the surrounding area . It remained with the Sangnier family until the grandson decided to gift it to a Comtesse who in turn then gifted the building to the Jesuits who used it as a strict boarding school, renowned for discipline and high achievement. Around this time two wings were built to connect the main house to two of the outbuildings, one wing housing classrooms, the other a chapel.

Vestiges of its ecclesiastical past can be found in the stained glass and various furnishings throughout the building and the chapel itself has been converted to accommodation. There’s also an enchanting Maria icon in the garden and a cross in the grounds. During WW2 it was used as German headquarters, some of the brothers risked their lives working for the resistance and were decorated accordingly after the war ended. Diggings for the German gun emplacement housings can still be seen.

After the school closed the neighbouring farmer then took possession of the Château before portioning the land off into its present configuration and selling it to the previous owners, the Lutz family in 2005 and they converted it to what it is now. We believe that we’re only the fifth owners since 1850. Incidentally the building’s Oxblood and white colour scheme is typically Picard.

The strip of woodland forming part of the Château des Lys estate was once part of an old forest, Le Bois de Cantatre which extended as far as Abbeville. The larger remnant now lies in front of the Mairie a few fields away and is popular with walkers. Bronze Age burials have been found there along with traces of Gallic villages and unsurprisingly there are local legends of druidic activity, but that may just be the guests.

Occasionally wild boar & deer still visit the grounds as do little red squirrels and of course lots of moles. It remains a quiet and cut off corner of the world and we hope to keep it that way, restoring as much of it to its original glory as we can.




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