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History

The Château de Lucens lies within a series of ancient walls and fortifications dating back centuries. The castle is distinguished by its two distinctive parts: the Gothic Castle and the Bernese Castle.

Historical data kindly provided by Mrs. Monique Fontannaz and extracted from the manuscript Les monuments d’art et d’histoire du canton de Vaud, VIII, Le District de la Broye.

The bishopric

Built on the plan of a fortified palace by the bishops of Lausanne, the origin of this Gothic castle dates back to the early 13th century, with later additions in the 14th and 15th centuries. The imposing tower, which dominates the important strategic point of the La Broye valley, was used as a watchtower and possible refuge from marauding armies. In association with the other castles of the region it was part of an ingenious warning system. Periods of relative tranquillity were continually disturbed by fierce wars and acts of banditry. In 1476, after the Battle of Murten, the fortifications were partially destroyed by the Confederate armies. However, the bishops held firm in spite of the uncertain and dark times and Lucens remained one of their favourite retreats. We still remember the grand reception held in 1532 by Bishop Sebastian de Montfalcon in honour of Charles III, Duke of Savoy. 1536 marks the end of the period of bishops in Lucens: on 31 March, the Bernese invaders take and occupy the castle.

The Bernese, the new masters of the Vaud region, chose Lucens as their administrative and judicial center. The castle became the official residence of successive bailiffs. Considerable structural changes and additions were made to many parts of the Château, although the tower and its immediate surroundings were largely left in the state we see them in today. Different methods of combat combined with hopes for lasting peace led to the new Bernese part of the castle, positioned to the east of the tower, being designed with greater attention to comfort and refinement. Forty-three governors succeeded Lucens over the next two and a half centuries, dispensing justice, collecting taxes, developing agriculture and creating schools. Protestant beliefs replaced Catholicism. However, in 1798, despite a valiant attempt by the last bailiff, François Rodolphe de Weiss, to maintain order, the castle quickly fell into the hands of the protesters.

The bernese era
(1536-1798)

The modern times

In 1801, the castle, which had become a cantonal property, was put up for sale. Since then it has always belonged to private owners. At the end of the 19th century, after changing hands several times, it was transformed into an educational institution for wealthy foreigners. The rooms were divided, the ceiling heights were changed, the paving replaced by floors… the decorative heritage of the previous centuries was about to disappear. In 1921, the new owner, advised by Otto Schmid, chief restorer of Chillon Castle, undertook a radical restoration, the aim of which was to return to the ideals of the end of the 16th century. The wall paintings were restored or reconstructed, the chimneys were reinstalled and the superfluous partitions demolished. From 1973 to 1993, Pierre Koller of the Koller Galleries in Zurich and Geneva carried out important and essential repairs and restorations. The history of Lucens is made up of successive layers: each inhabitant or owner has left his mark.

The important property, built up in the 18th century, is situated at the foot of the former castle town and reached its present extension in 1769. After being destroyed by a fire in 1852, it was rebuilt in the same location and included a vast vaulted cellar, a dwelling on the ground floor and first floor, a barn, a stable and a shed. In 1878, fire again destroyed the rural part, while it seems to have spared the dwelling. This includes two dwellings on top of each other and a large brick vaulted cellar. In 1895 the new owner made some alterations to establish a butcher’s shop. His daughter Lina, Charles Reymond’s wife, undertook more extensive work in 1919. At that time, the land register indicates the presence of a Catholic chapel in the house and a carpenter’s workshop in the rural area. After a long period of abandonment since the 1970s, the building was attached to the castle estate in 1996. Classified as a Historic Monument in 2012, it was restored the following year (architects Glatz and Delachaux).

La ferme du château

La dépendance

The rural outbuilding of the castle is located at the foot of the large staircase leading to it. The “bishop’s new stable” is mentioned here as early as 1392. Having fallen into ruins at the end of the Middle Ages, the barn and stables were rebuilt in 1581. In 1668, the old barn was converted into an attic, for which new windows were built in 1674-1675. It seems that this building was extended in 1685 at the expense of an adjacent old stable. In 1765, the architect Abraham Burnand had another barn built at the bottom of the grand staircase. Around 1795 and at the beginning of the 19th century, the function of attic had disappeared; the two buildings housed a barn, a stable and a shed. In 1898-1899, the one on the east side was converted in the style of a rental building. The renovation in 1976-78, in which old windows from the Bernese period were reopened, reduced the unsuitable character of the site. Today, the outbuilding offers eight spacious rooms and a large lounge for guests of the castle.

 

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