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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 as a fortified palace for the Bishops of Lausanne, the origins of the Gothic Castle date from the early 13th century, with later additions in the 14th and 15th centuries. The imposing tower, dominating the strategically important Broye Valley, served as a surveillance post and eventual refuge from marauding armies. It also formed part of an ingenious beacon system, linked to other castles in the region. Periods of relative tranquillity were continually jeopardised by fierce warfare and banditry: in 1476, after the Battle of Morat, the castle’s fortifications were partially destroyed by the Confederate army. The Bishops held firm, however Lucens remained one of their favourite retreats. 1536 marks the end of the Episcopal era at Lucens: on March 31 the invading Bernese armies overran and occupied the castle.
The Bernese, new masters of the Vaud region, chose Lucens as one of their administrative and juidicial centres. The Castle became a choice of residence for each successive “bailli” or governor. Enormous structural changes and additions were made to many parts of the castle, although the tower and its immediate surroundings – “le château gothique” – were left very much as we see them today. Different modes of combat, coupled with prospects of enduring peace, meant that the new Bernese part of the castle was conceived with an increased sense of comfort and domestic refinement. Forty-three successive Governors prevailed at Lucens over the next two and a half centuries, meting out justice, collecting taxes, developing agriculture and creating schools. The Protestant creed replaced Catholicism. 1798, however, brought the winds of revolution. Despite a valiant attempt to maintain order by the last “bailli”, François Rodolphe de Weiss, the castle rapidly fell to the patriot rebels.

The bernese era
(1536-1798)

The modern times

In 1801 the castle, now cantonal property, was put up for sale. By the end of the century, having changed hands several times, it was transformed into an educational establishment for wealthy foreigners. In 1921 the new owner, advised by Otto Schmid, restorer-in-chief at the Château de Chillon, undertook a radical restoration, which aimed to take the castle back to a late 16th century ideal. Wall paintings were restored or re-interpreted, fireplaces reinstated and walls or partitions demolished. During the 1970’s and 1980’s Pierre Koller, of the Galerie Koller, Zurich, carried out important and essential repairs and restoration. The story of Lucens is many-layered: each inhabitant or owner has left his mark.
The property, built in the 18th century, is located at the foot of the Castle and reached its current size in 1769. After it was destroyed by fire in 1852, it was rebuilt in the same location and comprised a large vaulted cellar, living quarters on the ground and first floors, a barn and horse stables. In 1878, another fire destroyed everything except the living spaces and the big brick vaulted cellar. In 1895 the new owner established a butcher’s shop. In 1919 records show the presence of a catholic chapel inside the house and a carpenter’s workshop in the rural space. After a long period since the 1970s, during which the property was neglected, it was finally united to the Castle grounds in 1996. Classified as a “Historical Monument” in 2012, a complete restoration was undergone the year after.

La ferme du château

La dépendance

The “Dépendance” is situated at the foot of the big staircase leading to the Castle and was mentioned in 1392 as the “new stables of the Bishop”. Rebuilt in 1581, the stables were transformed into a granary with windows added. The building was extended in 1685 and in 1765 it reverted back to being a barn and a stable. In 1898-1899 part of the building was transformed to provide accommodation. The renovation of 1976-1978 did revive some old period Bernese windows and the “Dépendance” now offers eight spacious rooms and a large living space for guests of the Castle.
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