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From Castle of the Roche Goyon (castle La Latte) to castle des Matignon (Castle of the Thorigny)

The Castle Thorigny, also known as the Castle des Matignon, holds a special place in the history of the Goyon Matignon Family. Located in Thorigny (currently Torigni), a small Norman village in the Manche department, this castle is significant. Although the medieval city walls have disappeared, some remnants and a rich history remain to remind us of its past.


It was within this castle that the descendants of Étienne III Goyon, the builder of the catsle of the Roche Goyon, established their residence when they left Brittany for Normandy.

Vue sur le château de Thorigny au 17e siècle
Vue sur le château de Thorigny au 17e siècle ©BNF

Founded in the Gallo-Roman era by Taurinus, Thorigny has undergone a fascinating etymological evolution, transitioning from "Tauriniacum" to "Turres igneae," giving rise to its coat of arms depicting two towers spewing fire.

The history of the castle is closely intertwined with the Matignon family, who added a wing to it in the 16th century, later restored after the devastation caused by the bombings in June 1944. This castle has housed the works of the Matignon family, a museum, Aubusson tapestries from the 17th century, regional furniture from the 19th century, as well as works by the local sculptor Arthur Le Duc.



Vue sur le château de Thorigny - 18e siècle par Louis Bourdan ©BNF

In 1421, the heiress of the domain, Marguerite de Mauny, sealed her destiny by marrying Jean Goyon de Matignon, originally from Brittany. This union marked the beginning of the presence of the Goyon Matignon family in Normandy, specifically in the Château de Thorigny. After the French reconquest in 1450, the estate became firmly rooted in the possessions of Jean Goyon, who also became the Grand Squire of France. His son, Bertrand IV, had his services rewarded with the elevation of Thorigny to a barony. However, it was thanks to the efforts of Jacques II that Thorigny attained the status of a county. He is credited with overseeing most of the constructions that transformed his castle into one of the most prestigious residences in Manche, a legacy that persisted until the Revolution.


The castle, built in the Louis XIII style during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, underwent various transformations over time. During the reign of Henri IV, a large part of the medieval ramparts was demolished, making way for a more modern castle designed by Marshal Matignon, Jacques II.


In the 18th century, the castle was embellished by Jacques III de Matignon. However, over the following centuries, it underwent various vicissitudes, including conversion into a prison during the French Revolution. It was also bought and sold multiple times, undergoing modifications and demolitions.


The name of the castle is also associated with the Grimaldi family, thanks to the marriage of Jacques-Francois-Léonor IV de Goyon de Matignon to Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi, the heiress to the throne of Monaco. In 1731, Jacques-Francois-Léonor IV became Jacques I, Prince of Monaco, establishing a lasting connection between the Matignon and Grimaldi families, with the Princes of Monaco holding the honorary title of Barons of Thorigny since then.


The former entrance to the castle is located on Rue Robert du Mont, facing the Church of St. Laurent:

On either side of this majestic entrance, two massive square pavilions with an "à l'impériale" roof stand as sentinels. Even though this entrance has been transformed into an elegant residential house, one can still discern in the center the carriage gate, once used by carriages and riders, flanked on each side by pedestrian doors.


The pediment above this entrance is adorned with two proud lions proudly supporting the Matignon coat of arms, although the latter was defaced during the Revolution in 1789. The imposing appearance of this entrance undoubtedly recalls the grandeur and majesty of the castle itself.

L'ancienne entrée du château transformé en habitation aujourd'hui avec les deux lions supportant le blason des Matignon martelé en 1789.
L'ancienne entrée du château transformé en habitation aujourd'hui avec les deux lions supportant le blason des Matignon martelé en 1789.

However, the history of this entrance is marked by tumultuous events. In December 1793, during the French Revolution, the property of the Grimaldi family of Monaco was confiscated, and the castle was transformed into a prison, a dark period that lasted until January 1795.


In March 1805, the castle was put up for auction and sold to General Santerre. Unfortunately for him, he failed to raise the required sum to acquire this iconic residence. The castle was put back up for sale, and it was eventually purchased by an agent acting on behalf of the two Matignon brothers. The agent won the bid and initiated a series of radical transformations. The forests were cut down, the Orangery greenhouse was demolished, and the waterfalls were destroyed, marking the end of a lavish era.


In 1817, the mayor at the time, Mr. Chartier de la Varignière, made a crucial decision: he persuaded the municipal council to purchase the only remaining wing of the castle with the intention of converting it into a town hall. Around 1840, the municipality erected the east pavilion to restore the architectural balance that had been disrupted by successive demolitions. This pavilion today contributes to preserving the harmony and history of this remarkable edifice.


The bombings of June 1944 severely damaged the castle, leaving only the four walls standing. It was during these bombings that the oldest representation of the Château de la Roche Goyon disappeared.


Photographie de la plus ancienne représentation du château de la Roche Goyon (Fort La Latte) connue à ce jour ©château de la Roche Goyon , photographie prise par M. Joüon Des Longrais
Photographie de la plus ancienne représentation du château de la Roche Goyon (Fort La Latte) connue à ce jour au château des Matignon à Thorigny ©château de la Roche Goyon - photographie prise par M. Joüon Des Longrais

The castle contained a gallery with a set of 7 large tapestries depicting scenes from the "Aeneid," with 4 of them being in the bedroom of Jacques IV de Matignon in 1751. These 7 tapestries arrived at the Château des Matignon in 1734.


Carte postale de la galerie du musée du château de Thorigny avec les tapisserie et les représentations des fiefs des Matignon
Carte postale de la galerie du musée du château de Thorigny avec les tapisserie et les représentations des fiefs des Matignon

Carte postale de la galerie du musée du château de Thorigny avec les tapisserie et les représentations des fiefs des Matignon
Carte postale de la galerie du musée du château de Thorigny avec les tapisserie et les représentations des fiefs des Matignon

At the bottom of these 7 tapestries, on the wooden plinths, there were representations of the castles, estates, and manors that belonged to the Goyon Matignon family throughout the centuries, including the one depicting the Château de la Roche Goyon. You can see these plinths with their representations in this postcard from the museum's gallery at the time.


Only the tapestry of "Énée's Arrival in Carthage" was saved, as it was undergoing restoration during the bombings of June 1944.

La tapisserie "L'arrivée d'Énée à Carthage" dans la salle municipale du château des Matignon (actuellement l'hôtel de ville de Thorigny)
La tapisserie "L'arrivée d'Énée à Carthage" dans la salle municipale du château des Matignon (actuellement l'hôtel de ville de Thorigny)

"We wish to express our deep gratitude to the town hall of Thorigny for generously welcoming us and allowing us to discover the beautiful tapestry during our recent visit."

panneau explicatif sur la tapisserie exposée dans la salle du conseil dans le château des Matignon à Thorigny
panneau explicatif sur la tapisserie exposée dans la salle du conseil dans le château des Matignon à Thorigny

Since then, the efforts of various municipalities have been focused on the restoration of the castle. In 2004, the castle's clock, stopped at the time of the 1944 bombing, was restored to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Today, the castle houses municipal offices, conference rooms, reception halls, and regularly hosts temporary exhibitions.

Classified as a Historic Monument in 1840, the Château des Matignon is a treasure of Thorigny, recalling its medieval past and its role in the region's history. Its gardens, ponds, and fascinating architecture offer a captivating glimpse into its historical and artistic heritage.



The chapel of the Château des Matignon, the Saint Laurent church :


L'église Saint Laurent de Thorigny
L'église Saint Laurent de Thorigny

The church of Saint-Laurent, formerly known as the Chapel of the Mausoleums due to its connection to the Château des Matignon, is a historical gem closely linked to the lords of Thorigny. Its history dates back to the 11th century when Robert the Magnificent, the father of William the Conqueror, consecrated it as a baptismal chapel. At that time, he placed it under the patronage of the monks of the Abbey of Cerisy-la-Forêt, which he had founded in 1032.


In the 12th century, a nave was added to the church, enriching its architecture with a new dimension. However, the significant event occurred in 1400 when Hervé de Mauny, Baron of Thorigny, undertook the construction of a chapel with a sepulchral vault attached to the church. Despite these architectural developments, the patronage of Saint-Laurent continued.

Vitraux avec le blason des Goyon, le lion rouge avec sa couronne sur fond blanc
Vitraux avec le blason des Goyon

The year 1575 marked an important turning point when Marshal Jacques II de Matignon, who had become the Lord of Cerisy, exchanged the patronages of Saint-Amand and Saint-Laurent for that of Brectouville, thus ending the patronage of Saint-Laurent.


Between 1597 and 1601, Françoise de Daillon du Lude, the wife of Jacques II de Matignon, made significant changes to the chapel. She renamed this first chapel as Saint-Pierre, also known as the Chapel of the Château. Additionally, she supervised the reconstruction of the choir vault of the church, had a burial vault dug to place her husband's body, creating what would become the Chapel of Notre-Dame.


The Tomb of Marshal Jacques II in the Chapel of the Mausoleums


Gravure du tombeau du maréchal de Matignon extraite de Histoire du maréchal de Matignon de Jacques de Caillères
Gravure extraite de Histoire du maréchal de Matignon de Jacques de Caillères

Engraving from "History of Marshal de Matignon" by Jacques de Caillières

© Collection of Château de la Roche Goyon

Currently, we only have this representation of the tomb on this engraving by René Lochon published in 1661, in "Histoire du maréchal de Matignon" by Jacques de Caillières..


The statue from the funerary monument of Henri de Matignon

Statue du tombeau funéraire, qui se trouvait dans la chapelle des Mausolées, de Henri de Matignon
Statue du tombeau funéraire, qui se trouvait dans la chapelle des Mausolées, de Henri de Matignon

Statue from the funerary monument, which was located in the Chapel of the Mausoleums, of Henri de Matignon (1633-1682), eldest son of Françoise de Matignon and Anne de Malon, displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Lô.

Attributed to the school of Nicolas Coustou (1658-1733).


La statue de Henri de Matignon exposé dans un jardin  © source Fonds Debuisson 1992
La statue de Henri de Matignon exposé dans un jardin

In 1864, the statue was donated to the city by Mr. Dupont-Cotelle, who had acquired it from the Matignon funerary chapel in Torigny for the sum of 400 francs. It's interesting to note that the face of the statue was mutilated during the events of 1793 when large armed forces passed through Torigny during the siege of Granville.

In 1905, this artwork was classified as a historical monument by a decree dated June 10th, in recognition of its historical and artistic significance. In 1956, after being kept for many years at the City Hall, the statue was transferred to the museum of the former Hôtel-Dieu at the time of its opening.

These pieces of information come from the Debuisson Fund in 1992, the Palissy Database of the Ministry of Culture in 2003, and written communication from Mrs. Clarysse of the Vire City Hall on August 12, 2003. The identifier for this artwork is number 3769. The statue of Henri de Matignon is thus a valuable testament to the history and art of its time, now preserved as a historical monument in the Museum of Fine Arts in St Lô.


This part, known as the Chapel of Notre Dame, later named the Chapel of the Mausoleums, contained an imposing collection of white marble tombs erected in homage to eminent members of the Matignon family. Among the commemorated personalities were Jacques II de Matignon, Marshal of France, Odet de Matignon, Admiral, Charles de Matignon, Lieutenant-General, Éléonore d'Orléans, the wife of Charles de Matignon, as well as Léonor I de Matignon, Bishop and Count of Lisieux, and many others.

These white marble tombs, bearing witness to the past glory of the Matignon family, were exceptional works of art. However, in November 1793, during the French Revolution, as the Republican army under the command of Generals Sépher and Tilly came to fight the Vendéens threatening Granville, these precious marbles were ruthlessly destroyed, bringing an end to their existence and erasing a significant part of the history and heritage of this church, with their fragments scattered.

Today, only a fragment of the tomb of Marshal de Matignon remains, displayed at the Louvre, depicting Victory and naked captives against a background of weapon trophies.

During this tragedy, the funerary monument of Henri de Matignon was the only one to escape total destruction. Unfortunately, only a part of his face was marred.


The Fragment of Victory and Naked Captives Against a Background of Weapon Trophies


Bas relief se trouvant sur le tombeau du maréchal de Matignon dans la chapelle des Mausolées @2019 musée du Louvre, Thierry Ollivier
Bas relief se trouvant sur le tombeau du maréchal de Matignon dans la chapelle des Mausolées ©2019 musée du Louvre, Thierry Ollivier

©2019 Louvre Museum, Thierry Ollivier

This marble bas-relief from the tomb of Marshal Matignon was located in Thorigny, in an institution for young girls, before 1900, and then "sold to an amateur or dealer in Paris". Don Georges Wildenstein (1892-1963), 1907 (committee of March 21, 1907, decree of April 28, 1907) and was acquired by the Louvre Museum in 1907.


In the 19th century, a renovation campaign was undertaken to restore the past glory of the Church of Saint-Laurent. In 1893, both chapels were demolished and then rebuilt, now bearing the names of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart and the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin. The vaults were carefully restored, and a new sacristy was arranged. Paradoxically, it was during this time that the Church of Saint-Laurent lost its bell tower, marking a turning point in its architectural appearance.

Vitraux avec le blason des Goyon Matignon dans l'église de St Laurent
Vitraux avec le blason des Goyon dans l'église de St Laurent

In 2011, a remarkable event further illuminates the history of the marble mausoleum: the head of Françoise d'Aillon du Lude, a precious relic, suddenly emerges on the art market. Faced with this unexpected opportunity, a subscription is launched jointly by Jean-Luc Dufresne, curator emeritus of the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint-Lô, and the association Les Amis des musées de Saint-Lô. However, despite their combined efforts, the funds raised are not sufficient to acquire this historical piece.


la tête de Françoise d'Aillon du Lude
La tête de Françoise d'Aillon du Lude au musée des beaux art de St Lô

It is at this point that an important figure enters this story: Prince Albert of Monaco, known for his sensitivity to the preservation of cultural heritage, decides to take action. Aware of the priceless value of this marble head and concerned about preserving this precious relic, Prince Albert purchases the head in its entirety. In a noble gesture towards the preservation of history, he chooses to deposit this treasure in the Museum of Saint-Lô.


Thus, thanks to the generosity and vision of Prince Albert of Monaco, the head of Françoise d'Aillon du Lude finds a new home in the Museum of Saint-Lô, where it can be admired and studied by future generations.

There are still fragments of the tomb of Marshal de Matignon, including his clasped hands and the kneeler, somewhere in private collections (reported in 1900).


_____________________________________________________


During our recent visit to the Château des Matignon, which is now transformed into the Town Hall of Thorigny, we had the privilege of admiring the tapestry. This piece is the only item from the Matignon collection that survived the bombings of 1944 and was displayed in the castle's gallery alongside the oldest representation of our castle.


This tapestry, a testament to exceptional craftsmanship, remains a true window into the history of the Matignon Family. It transported us to a world filled with grace and elegance, reminiscent of the glorious era of the Matignon. This experience was made possible thanks to the generosity and warm hospitality of the Town Hall of Thorigny, whom we deeply thank.


Furthermore, placed on the Town Hall's display, we discovered a small shop: "La Chronique des Matignon".


Le numéro 15 de "La chronique des Matignon" par l'association culturelle de Torigni les villes
Le numéro 15 de "La chronique des Matignon" par l'association culturelle de Torigni les villes

Le numéro 15 de "La chronique des Matignon" par l'association culturelle de Torigni les villes


This precious shop, which we hurriedly purchased, immerses us in the local history of Thorigny.

The latest issue, No. 15, curiously featured an article about the famous tapestry that we had the chance to admire with our own eyes just moments ago. As the saying goes, "Everything is connected."


This visit will be etched in our memories as an unforgettable experience, and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to share it with you today through this article on the Château des Matignon.


We didn't have the same luck at the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint-Lô, as the Matignon gallery is currently under renovation. Therefore, we were unable to admire the portraits of the Matignon family, so we plan to return when it is accessible again.


Sources :


Livre "La normandie des princes de Monaco, du maréchal de Matignon au prince Albert II", musée des beaux arts de St Lô, 2011


° "La chronique des Matignon" N°15 de l'association culturelle de Torigni les villes


° Livre le "Fort La Latte", éditions Ouest France, Isabelle Joüon Des Longrais


° Livre de "Du rocher de La Latte au rocher de Monaco, LES GOUYON MATIGNON, huit siècles d'histoire, leurs juveigneurs, leurs alliances et leurs demeures", aux éditions régionales de l'Ouest, 2007


° Livre le château de la Roche Goyon dit Fort La Latte, imprimerie de la manutention Mayenne, 1973, SEKIJÔ NO SHI (Le maître du lieu, pseudonyme de Frédéric Joüon Des Longrais)


Les vues sur le château de Thorigny













The entities, places, and historical figures mentioned in this text about the Château de Thorigny and the Goyon Matignon family are:


1. Château de Thorigny / Château des Matignon : Located in Thorigny (Torigni), in the department of Manche in Normandy.

2. Goyon Matignon Family : Family that resided at the Château de Thorigny.

3. Étienne III Goyon : Builder of the Château de la Roche Goyon, ancestor of the Goyon Matignon family.

4. Thorigny (Torigni) : Norman village where the Château des Matignon is located.

5. Taurinus : Founder of Thorigny in the Gallo-Roman period.

6. Marguerite de Mauny : Heiress of the Thorigny estate, married to Jean Goyon de Matignon.

7. Jean Goyon de Matignon : Originally from Brittany, Grand Écuyer de France, and husband of Marguerite de Mauny.

8. Bertrand IV : Son of Jean Goyon, Baron of Thorigny.

9. Jacques II de Matignon : Count of Thorigny, who supervised most of the construction of the castle.

10. Jacques III de Matignon : 18th-century figure who beautified the castle.

11. Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi : Princess Heiress of Monaco, wife of Jacques-Francois-Léonor IV de Goyon de Matignon.

12. Jacques-Francois-Léonor IV de Goyon de Matignon / Jacques Ier de Monaco : Prince of Monaco, husband of Louise-Hippolyte Grimaldi.

13. Grimaldi Family : Princely family of Monaco.

14. General Santerre : Figure who attempted to purchase the castle at an auction.

15. Monsieur le Chartier de la Varignière : Mayor of Thorigny in the 19th century.

16. Arthur Le Duc : Local sculptor.

17. Françoise de Daillon du Lude : Wife of Jacques II de Matignon.

18. Prince Albert de Monaco : Contemporary figure who contributed to the preservation of an artwork related to the Matignon family.

19. Henri de Matignon : Historical figure whose statue is in the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint-Lô.

20. Jacques de Caillières : Author of "Histoire du maréchal de Matignon."

21. Nicolas Coustou : Sculptor potentially linked to the statue of Henri de Matignon.

22. Museum of Fine Arts in Saint-Lô : Museum where the statue of Henri de Matignon is located.

23. René Lochon : Engraver of the representation of the tomb of Jacques II de Matignon.

24. Louvre Museum : Institution that possesses a fragment of the tomb of the Marshal de Matignon.

25. Cultural Association of Torigni les Villes : Publisher of "La chronique des Matignon."

26. Saint-Laurent Church in Thorigny : Former Mausoleum chapel, connected to the Matignon family.

27. Robert le Magnifique : Father of William the Conqueror, connected to the history of Saint-Laurent Church.

28. Abbey of Cerisy-la-Forêt : Religious institution that had patronage over Saint-Laurent Church.


This text provides a detailed account of the history of the Château des Matignon, including its architecture, historical evolution, and its connection to significant figures and events.

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