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The stone staircase
The authentic, magical Kerbeleg staircase “hors œuvre” (outside the building) must have been in an old turret or structure flanking the building. The roof, which must have been conical, with a pepperpot or four-sided, has been truncated. It is a spiral staircase with winding steps, typical of the second half of the 15th century. It is in a remarkable state of preservation.
The brace is the same as that on the entrance door, which is characteristic of the flamboyant repertoire. The lintel has a pointed arch, but the moulding is less pronounced, just bevelled. The door with its bracketed arch can be dated to the late Gothic or late 15th century. Until the Kerbélégou manor house was renovated in the 17th century, the outside staircase must have resembled the stair tower of the Kerlagadic manor house in Bannalec (photo). The staircase leads upstairs through an ornate doorway into the former “upper room”, where the exceptional fireplace still stands. In a Breton manor house in the Middle Ages, there was a lower room on the ground floor where communal affairs were settled (reception of farmers, settlement of rents and leases, settlement of disputes, etc.).
This was a sort of communal room, while upstairs, the upper room was more of a family room, where guests were received with a certain solemnity. These two rooms are heated by monumental fireplaces, which are a feature of comfort. So at Kerbelegou, the current bedroom upstairs was the upper room. It was accessed by the staircase, which is why there is a carved door on the first floor.
In addition to the materials used (granite, slate), which give them a distinctive look, Breton manor houses have a number of special features. There are often gatehouses, similar to British gatehouses. A gatehouse is a building constructed above a gate that it defends. Many Breton manor houses also have traces of external gallery supports.
But most of them have now disappeared, with the exception of the manor house at Launay-Bazoin, in Sainte-Anne de Vilaine. Finally, monumental staircases are also a feature of many manor houses. They are sometimes found on towers that adorn the facades and add majesty to the building… (Photo: Spiral staircase at the KERNAULT manor house)
In 1952, the occupants remodelled the manor house, in particular replacing the loophole in the spiral staircase of the former 15th-century turret with a door leading directly into the house. This structure was replaced in 2021 by a bay window.
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