The Manoir de Courboyer is one of the largest country houses in Perche. It is also one of the most emblematic. As an expression of the economic and agricultural revival of the late Middle Ages, it has been on the MH list since 1981. The object of restoration, supported by the state through the France Relance scheme, opened the doors of its site to several classes of the region as part of the program “One school, one workplace”, an arts and cultural education system of the Ministry of Culture, during the 2021-2022 school year. A refund has just been made for the work performed by the students (1er July 2022) and an exhibition until October. The opportunity for the DRAC of Normandy to present the main stages and highlight this remarkable monument.
The first written mentions of this building appear in a charter of the Bishop of Sées in 1233. It describes a series of lands and revenues dependent on the abbey of Saint Denis de Nogent le Rotrou. The manor fell under the castellany of Bellême. First, a primitive defensive site, abandoned at the end of the 15th century in favor of a country house more suited to the way of life of the lords of Nocé and the management of their agricultural domain, it was probably built, as well as the chapel , by Jehan de Courboyer at the end of the 15th century (cf. the dendrochronological analysis performed on the framework that places the logging date in 1495 or 1496). The Courboyer line ended in 1594 with the death of Maris de Courboyer. His daughters sell the estate to Pierre de Fontenay, lord of La Reynière. With him begins a long period of partial abandonment, then from 1680, of vacancy of the manor. The estate was subsequently exploited by farmers and the stately home deteriorated. However, from 1733 it benefited from major works after its purchase by Pierre de Barville. At the end of the 18th century, the Revolution expelled the last lords of Courboyer and at the beginning of the following century the estate was converted into a farmhouse. Over the years, Courboyer passed through the hands of several owners. It benefited from several work campaigns of the 1980s, but it was above all the purchase and installation of the Perche Regional Park in the early 2000s that opened up new perspectives and allowed it to become the emblem of the perch. After being included in the Supplementary Inventory of Historic Monuments in 1926, the manor was listed in 1981 for its facades, roofs and four of its chimneys. Despite its brilliance, the building suffers from considerable disrepair. Also, in close consultation with the Regional Services for the Preservation of Historic Monuments (DRAC de Normandie), a diagnosis was assigned in 2017 to Mr Benoît Maffre, heritage architect, to prepare a full health assessment of the building and work proposals. The health crisis obviously concerns the roofs, but the interior, which has remained in the configuration given by the private owners, also requires major works in the medium term to accommodate the public according to the required standards and in good conditions, in particular in terms of safety and accessibility. The priority restoration programme, established in consultation with the Park administration, concerns the restoration of the roofs. It aims to restore the chimneys and skylights. This symbolic figure of the Perche, the Manoir de Courboyer, is given the full attention of the Ministry of Culture and the DRAC of Normandy.
A France Relance project
The Manoir de Courboyer also benefits from the France Relance scheme for the restoration of the roof, the installation of a rainwater harvesting system and the restoration of the masonry of the upper parts (general support from the DRAC: €420,000 for a project spanning the years 2021, 2022 and 2023).
School, a construction site
The artistic and cultural education system “one school, one site” aims to reach school audiences from all geographical backgrounds, urban or rural. It is intended for school children as an incentive to appropriate the monumental, archaeological and artistic heritage and its history, the cultural practice on the sites and the discovery of crafts.
This system, launched in 2018 and based on the charter for arts and cultural education of 8 July 2016, is based on three pillars: encounter, practice, knowledge. It consists in particular of welcoming schoolchildren to the site and presenting historical monuments, site visits, workshops related to excavation or restoration techniques (stained glass, sculptures, paintings, stone formats, archaeologist’s gestures) .
CP, CE1 and CE2 at Courboyer Manor
The project began almost a year ago with the reception of a CP class at the Manoir at the end of August 2021. Main objective: a historical presentation, architectural elements and planned works. In extenso, two classes returned in October 2021 to discover the construction site (jetty) and the crafts. The students were invited to participate in the layout of the site (photograph) and to discuss the different stages of the project, and to identify the different occupations on the site (carpenters, masons, roofers).
The students returned to the Perche Ecomuseum in December 2021 to study local architectural features, ancient building techniques and the materials used. In workshops, students could work on a model of the project: cover the prototype of a roof with flat tiles, make a whitewash (lime + dyes) on cardboard and thick paper, make small tiles/bricks and from a tile.
To go further and connect the mansion with the rest of the village of Nocé, a new workshop was held in March 2022. It allowed students to make the link between the building materials that are part of the local habitat and the manor, a moment rich in explanations of religious architecture and complemented by educational activities: orientation of the church using a compass, mirror games. ..
As an extension, the students (2 classes) went on site to witness the evacuation of the damaged structure and to consult with the carpenters. Then the idea arose: to install a treasure in the wall in which the new beam will come (March 24, 2022).
To conclude the programme, on April 6, two carpenters (from the Guillet firm) came to the school to present their craft to the children (presentation of tools, demonstration of gestures, tracing on the ground, etc.).
In collaboration with the Ecomusée du Perche, the students again worked on “the house of yesteryear and the house of today” on 3 and 6 May. Workshops for researching and assembling ancient elements have made it possible to make a small model of a longère in paper and to make plaster.
To complete this moment, a visit to the brick factory of Hôme Chamondot and the Guillet workshop in Pin la Garenne allowed you to visualize all the stages necessary for the manufacture of a brick (clay mining, shaping, drying, cooking … ) and convert the steps required to manufacture the tiles.
Finally the 1er In July, to crown this course, a refund of the work done by the students was proposed. The result can be seen in the ecomuseum from July to October 2022 and is part of the exhibition program “The schools of the Park are exhibited”.