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20/11/13 French Antiques and treasures in Provence
One of my favourite things to do is scour the local villages, and weekend brocante markets in search of ‘treasures’ for our houses. Hours and hours of sheer joy awaits in search of that perfect ‘something’ This tiny store in an alley in Bonnieux has wonderful things, especially if your looking for country pieces in grey/blue!
28/10/13 13th Century Fresco’s on walls – Knights Templar
These incredible 13th Century fresco’s were discovered in our house in recent times. It is believed a previous owner of the house was frightened by the Knights Templar and had the ancient fresco’s plastered over. During our first weeks stay in our house, we have since discovered two more fresco’s which have been plastered and painted over. The process now of finding the right person to restore these magnificent paintings is on….The largest fresco – measuring nearly two metres in height (in the main staircase), is of the famous imagery of a Knight on a Horse. The grey above the Knight and horses body is in fact plaster. Once restored, the entire painting will be visible. The process of fresco painting was with pure pigments on wet lime plaster. As the plaster cures, a layer of crystal forms over the pigment, locking it into the surface. This is what gives fresco its beautiful matte finish and permanence. The ‘blazon’ or crest of arms depicting the lion is in the process of thorough research, as its believed to date back to the Knights of the First Crusade.
25/10/13 Ancient well and hidden staircases
We had barely scratched the surface before we discover another abandoned staircase. It would appear the damage has been done in the past 15 years, sad considering it has withstood 800 years. It’s going to take time, however we will clean it out and restore the old stones to the spiral stairs. There are two spiral staircases at different ends of the cave (basement) and would appear that both are leading into tunnels (yet to be ventured into)! The old well was covered in rocks and rubbish. The front façade of the well dates back to the 1700’s, the well itself dates back to the 13th Century. Fully functioning and as you can see full of water….20 meters down! Possibly the greatest treasure in the main cave is the ‘unicorn’ a 13th Century symbol of the Knights Templar. We are told the main cave would have been covered in such frescos. Our daughter Lucy has uncovered what looks to be another fresco on the remaining plaster on the walls, adjacent to this unicorn. When I first looked at the house back in June, the wonderful Agent – Isabelle and I discovered flag stones in the shape of a key. We quickly found a metal bar and a head of an old shovel and began clearing the space. It only took a few minutes before we realised another hidden room and tunnel lie beneath. We now know the vaulted room we have subsequently been into has a sealed door that leads towards this area! We will have to wait until we have the right equipment before we can proceed any further!
15/10/13 The discovery begins at Maison du Templiers
We were so excited to begin searching our house, especially the large cave area. We had been told there were two immence passageways leading in different directions, one leading underneath the church and the second towards the old Chateau. We had only seen through a hole in the floor of one of the upper rooms in the main cave what looked like a room, but were yet to venture into it and see exactly what was inside. Brendan went first and as you can see, a wonderful 800 year old – virtually fully intact vaulted room. In the left hand corner was a large solid stone vat that would have been used for wine. On two sides there are two small stone doorways that have been blocked off over the years. The reminants of an old spiral staircase are in another corner, along with a large air shaft. At the moment as there is so much broken rubble and rubbish, so it is difficult to see exactly what lays beneath, however the last few stone steps are still visable. The ceiling is in excellent condition, as are the walls. Layers and layers of dirt and dust lies on the floor making it difficult to determine what the condition of the stones are. The exciting thing to see are the small door openings that have been covered up…..what will be behind them!