Built in the 11th century, Meillant Castle features a tower built by a prince of Déols to protect his land. This tower was built in Dun-le-Roi (modern day Dun-sur-Auron) and transported three leagues to be added to the main structure of the castle.
The construction of the current castle began sometime between the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century by Étienne II de Sancerre, who died before 1308. The rectangular buildings located on either side of the main structure were built at the end of the 15th century. To the south of the main structure, there were trenches that were fed by the Hivernon. At the centre of the castle is a courtyard, surrounded by ramparts.
Until the 18th century, the castle was protected by a moat and the only entrance was via a gate on the East side of the main structure. The main structure, chapel, and Lion tower were constructed between 1473 and 1510 by the Amboise family. The building was started by Charles I of Amboise and completed by Charles II of Amboise. The entire construction project was completed under the control of Cardinal d’Amboise.
The castle has been featured in many works of art, most notably a drawing by Claude Chastillion, originating from the beginning of the 17th century and depicting the structure of the castle at that time. The drawing shows that the castle was adorned to the west by a gallery of seven arcades, the ruins of two can still be found in the garden. The gallery of Meillant Castle resembled that of the Château de la Verrerie, near Aubigny-sur-Nère.
After many years of neglect, architect Louis Lenormand began restoration of the castle in 1842. His restoration included a redesign of the sculpted exterior decoration, the roofs, walkways, and the upper floors of the main buildings to the eastern end of the castle. Lenormand was also responsible for the redesigned interior of the Castle.
On March 2, 1926 by way of decree, Meillant Castle was listed as a French Historic Monument.
For over 200 years, the Mortemart family has been responsible for the daily maintenance of the estate. Over the last few decades, the family has opened the castle to the public to offer visitors the unique opportunity to share the intimacy of a fully furnished and still inhabited monument!
The family invites you into the daily life of the château, offering themselves as your guide to their home. Each tour is rich in anecdotes of life in the château as well as family history.
The younger generations of the family have enriched the experience of the château with cultural, festive, recreational and other unusual offerings such as “thrill visits”. The family also offers dinners at the château which promise everyone the experience of a lifetime as a lord or lady for an evening!
To discover or rediscover the castle “differently”, the owners carefully renew their programming each year by bringing new ideas. Aurélia, the niece of Aimery de Mortemart explains that the family has created so many programs “out of love for the family castle, for heritage and to perpetuate the work of my uncle and my grandparents”.
As protectors of the “Meillant” spirit, it would be impossible not to come across the family during you visit to the château, as either guides of occasionally as actors…
Listed as a historic monument, Meillant Castle is one of the most beautiful private castles in France.