la Pommeraye 2018

La Pommeraye, Normandy

by Alma LaFrance

August 5, 2018: Erlene Healey, Len Pomeroy, Terry and Susan Coolahan, and I boarded the Paris to Caen train, and from there rented a car.

 Because we were following the earliest paths of Pomeroy history, we  stopped first in the tranquil city of Bayeaux to view its tapestry, which debuted almost 950 years ago. The tapestry recounts the 1066 conquest of England, led by Duke William. 

We were staying at the Chateau de la Pommeraye, a B&B fashioned from a historic chateau in the Calvados countryside;  a setting featuring antiques, art, fine food and tranquility.  

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. Fortified with a generous country breakfast, and entrusted with the key to The Castle Gate, we circled past the tall stone walls of the Chateau, entered a wooded area, climbed a short hillside, and found ourselves in the “poultry yard” of The Castle, once the home of Ralf de Pommeraye, companion of Duke William.  Local history has it that Pommeraye was one of the most powerful of the Cinglais lords.  Terry, Susan and Len had visited the Chateau La Pommeraye in 2016, which coincided with an annual medieval themed event, “Les Medieval de Chateau Ganne.”  Their descriptions of the Chateau at festival time brought the site to life for us.   (If you decide to visit, check out the dates for this event.) 

Two immense wooden soldiers guarding the gate were carved out of Cedar of Lebanon trees, which fell during a devastating storm of 1999. 

It is said that during Charlemagne’s reign, a fortress stood on the exact spot overlooking the former road to Brittany.  Archaeological excavations support further evidence of occupation in the 8th and 9th centuries.    

However the most recent archaeological evidence relates to the occupancy by the Norman family of Ralf la Pomeroy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It is written that, with his numerous holdings in England, Ralf obtained enough resources to organize and improve his Norman domain.

Just 300 years later the Chateau Pommeraye was abandoned. Richard the Lion Heart was dead from a crossbow wound. His brother, John Lackland, neglected Normandy.  In 1204 the eldest branch of the Pomeroy family took sides against the King of France and their Norman heritage was dispersed.  

“The abandoned ruin of the Chateau Pommeraye survives in the legends associated with the “Chanson de Roland,” linking it with the character of the traitor Ganelon from where Chateau Ganne takes its name.” (Web page. Norman Sites/Other Norman Buildings.)