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History & Heritage

Old Breton chimneys

At the heart of the majestic Breton residence of Kerbélégou, the upper room transports us back through the centuries, giving us a glimpse of the captivating history that lies within. Taking the stone staircase, we are guided to this singular space by a finely worked door, a door that seems to be the threshold between two eras.

(Fireplace in the birds’ room before renovation)

The room, known as ‘Les Oiseaux’, takes its name from the subtle charm and elegance that make it a unique space within the main house. It is here that our eyes are instantly drawn to an exceptional fireplace, a functional work of art that embodies the soul of the room. Carved brackets, delicately formed into inverted pyramids, support the massive lintel, adorned with a distinctive profile in the shape of the stroke of Jupiter. Every detail bears witness to meticulous craftsmanship, a testament to the care lavished on its design.

The sculptures that adorn this mysterious mantel transport our imagination back in time. Religious motifs, a mitre and a cross, melt into the stone, prompting reflection on their deeper meaning. Was it a mark of devotion, or perhaps a tribute to an important figure who had resided within these walls? One intriguing theory is that Joseph Briant, priest and owner of Kerbélégou in the 17th century, restored the manor house and marked the fireplace with sacred symbols. Local bishops, notably Alain Rivelin and Alain Le Gall, may also have left their mark on the history of this residence, leaving behind the mystery of their connection to the upper room.

The Kerbélégou manor house as a whole reveals a complex and ingenious structure, typical of the Breton Middle Ages. The division between the lower and upper rooms served to differentiate the living spaces. On the ground floor, the lower hall was the heart of business, a place where daily activities and transactions were conducted. Farmers were received, leases were settled and disputes were resolved in this lively room. Upstairs, the upper room provided a family sanctuary, a private space where celebrations took place with solemnity.

The imposing fireplaces in the two lower rooms were essential elements of comfort, heating the space while adding a monumental touch. While the fireplace in the upper room has been carefully preserved, the one in the lower room bears the marks of time, evidence of meals prepared and shared around the fire, etched into the stone.

Kerbeleg - Grand Salon feu de cheminée

Light, a precious resource at the time, guided daily activities. The fire in the fireplace lit up part of the house, while the storm lamps or lanterns, protected by glass globes, illuminated the work with the animals. The days were punctuated by the movement of the sun, and the evenings were bathed in the soothing glow of candlelight.

In this mysterious manor house, every stone tells a story, every detail evokes a bygone era. Kerbélégou stands like an open window on the past, where art and function combine to create a timeless story. The symbols engraved in the stone and the warm spaces bear witness to a life that was, and continues to inspire those who cross its thresholds.

Published on: 5 August 2023  -  Filed under: History and Heritage