The Chateau de Bagnac lies just to the east of the N147 road to Poitiers, about three of four miles north of Bellac. You can just see the chateau from the road, if you know what to look for – but most people drive past, unaware of it.
Highly romantic in style, it was built only in the mid-19th cetury – though on the site of a very much earler structure. It was occupied until around 1947, when the present owner (still alive in, I am told, Bordeaux) abandoned it, allowing it to decay and collapse because, it is said, she so much hated her chidhood there. I don’t know how much truth there may be in that story, but it is what I have been told.
To get close to it (but because of its perilous state one does not want to get too close) you have to take some narrow and unpaved lanes, which may or may not be private property. It is sad indeed to see it, especially as you can imagine its glory days. (There are many images on Google, of how it once was and how it now is.)
Now here is my plan:
We would go out to the Chateau in the dead of a moonlit night, set up sound equipment through which to play Ravel’s La Valse, imaging a great party taking place in its grand ballroom. And then I would read aloud this great poem — much beloved by my mother, who adored the poetry of Walter de la Mere (1873-1956) and who taught English Literature in high school.
“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest’s ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:–
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
Well, that’s my plan which I have dreamed over many years of carrying out – but somehow I doubt that I will ever actually do it!