In countries where castles aren’t snapped up by The National Trust and immediately furnished with a tearoom and gift shop, other ways must be found to preserve historical buildings.
The latest ingenious idea is crowdfunding, which has seen €834,064 (£736,283) raised to buy and restore Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in the Poitou-Charentes region of France.
The château, which dates back to the 13th century, has been in a state of disrepair for many years, following a fire in 1932 that damaged much of the building.
But a partnership between French crowdfunding site Dartagnans, which aims to save the country’s cultural heritage, and Adopte un Château, an association formed to restore and protect French castles, has asked members of the public to buy shares in the château, with all money raised going towards restoring it.
Pledging €50 will bag donors one share in the company which will own Mothe-Chandeniers; upping it to €60 ensures delivery of a Christmas box, with a membership card and a certificate of co-ownership. You know, so you can prove to people you really do own part of a castle.
“Through this collective purchase, we believe in the preservation and development of the heritage of tomorrow and have proven that the public strength is always the greatest,” says the Dartagnans website.
The project has already reached an agreement with the current owner, so there is no danger of being outbid at auction.
Dartagnans and Adopte un Château have also promised to “create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of work, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project.”
Only 500,000 of the money will go on buying the castle, outbuildings and surrounding land – any extra will go towards restoring it, with the aim of opening it up to the public and making it a self-sustaining attraction.
The goal is to reach 50,000 visitors by 2021 and 70,000 by 2022, with the chateau hosting a raft of events such as exhibitions and historical re-enactments, with extra funds coming from renting out the property to film and production companies.
Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers isn’t the only building to invest in – Dartagnans currently has seven other chateau crowdfunding projects on the go, including Château de Lassay, a 15th-century castle in Mayenne, and Château de Meauce, a 15th century castle in Nièvre.