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Fairytale French castle saved from ruin by thousands of strangers

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A crumbling French chateau dating back to the 13th century has been saved from being ruined by thousands of strangers who banded together to purchase it for restoration.

The staggering 2,000-hectare La Mothe-Chandeniers, which was once a legendary party palace, is located with its own moat at Les Trois-Moutiers, 200 miles south of Paris in the south-western Poitou-Charentes region.

More than 7,400 people of 45 different nationalities joined forces to scrape together the €500,000 (£441,700) needed to save it from being bulldozed by developers.

The chateau dates back to the 13th centuryCredit:Getty

In one of the first appeals of its kind in France, the money was raised through a crowdfunding campaign which asked potential buyers to contribute at least €50 each - or €51 should they also wish to be shareholders in the company that will run the restoration.

It's the brainchild of cultural heritage conservation organisation, the "Dartagnans", who will now work with the band of owners to repair the decaying chateau and then open it to the public.

Writing on Facebook, the organisers said of the "crazy bet" they made several months ago - "Love of heritage has triumphed and the beautiful adventure is just beginning!"

The chateau's oldest quarters were first built in the early 13th century by the wealthy Bauçay family, but during the Middle Ages it was twice conquered by English invaders.

Matters got worse when it was ransacked and all-but destroyed during the French Revolution.

It wasn't until 1809 that Parisian entrepreneur François Hennecart took ownership of La Mothe-Chandeniers, installing a vineyard and making extensive repairs.

In 1870, Baron Edgard Lejeune acquired the property and gave it another overhaul, going on to throw frequent lavish parties within its walls.

But in 1932, tragedy struck yet again when a huge fire tore through the chateau after new central heating was installed, destroying much of its structure and all its belongings. Countless antiques, priceless paintings and rare books were lost.

It sat empty until retired maths teacher Marc Deyemer purchased it in 1981.

It has changed hands many times over time but is currently empty and overgrownCredit:Getty

"I killed myself for two years trying to save it with preservation works, but I was sickened when my projects were torpedoed by certain people," he told La Nouvelle Republique in 2013. "I’m tempted to declare it a ruin so it can be destroyed."

Footage of the archaic estate in its current state shows a castle completely overgrown with trees. But with its fairytale turrets and defiant arches, the property's potential is undeniable.



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The successful crowd-funding campaign will stay active online until Christmas Day, with further funds required for its restoration, should you wish to chip in.

Has this ever been done before?

Yes. In August, a crowdfunding campaign dubbed "Adopte un Chateau" sought to raise €500,000 (£462,000) for a destitute 15th-century chateau, asking interested parties to buy shares starting from €50.

Chateau le Paluel in Perigord in the Dordogne region was seized by the state after concerns that the impressive building was falling into a state of irreversible disrepair.

It became derelict after being attacked by the Nazis in the Second World War, but this year's appeal seeks to save it from shrinking into history as a wreck.

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