The Château de Mailleberchie, consisting of the extensive land estate as well as the commons surrounding the castle, is managed with the following aims:

  • To assist in the restoration and maintenance of an architectural monument, composed of the ensemble of buildings and park, created by master architect Paul Abadie.
  • To work together with the owners to achieve a high standard of stewardship and land management for the benefit of present and future generations.
  • To adopt consistent policies for the conservation of the natural assets of the Estate.
  • To provide a place of retreat and enjoyment for the owners, their family, and their guests.
  • To provide a place for translation and original work, and spiritual development, for a Triratna Buddhist community.
  • To provide an occasional retreat centre for Urban Triratna Buddhist communities.

Contact: steward@mailleberchie.com


The history of Mailleberchie has been determined by its dominant location, straddling the border between the lands of the counts of Angoulême in Angoumois and the Périgord. These were both initially part of the Duchy of Aquitaine (Guyenne). Thus the area was frequently contested by the Kings of England and the Kings of France. It straddles other divides as well. Geographically and ethnically the domain pertains more to the Périgord than to the Angoumois, where it has recently been situated politically. The domain’s waters flow into the Dronne in Périgord, not into the Charente, and the local language is historically Limousin-Occitan, not Saintongeais.

Medium Aevum

In the middle ages the domain lay within the Duchy of Acquitaine. From 1308 onwards the domain found itself on the border of the county of Angoulesme with the county of Périgord. Mailleberchie was fortified as an outpost of the Duchy of Lavalette at least since the 1300’s. Foundry activities at the site have been proven beginning at least as early as the 1400’s perhaps earlier, and the fabrication of chain-mail armour for the local knights at Villebois-Lavallette may be the etymological origin for the name “Mailleberchie”, alternately Maille has also been suggested to mean “locality”, thus hamlet of Berchie.


Coinciding with the start of the 100 Year War, wine from the Charente is first exported to England, adding significantly to the economy of the region, but also increasing the perception of its value to opposing forces. A chivalric lodge is erected at Mailleberchie overlooking vital borderposts.


The site was recorded as having been first permanently fortified in the 1500’s, during the French wars of religion, when Fort Villebois was largely destroyed and whilst Mailleberchie was a feudal territory of Joseph Lord of Chastellars. In 1586 the castle and châtellenie of Mailleberchie was given by him as dowry to Jean de Villedon, also feudal Lord of Perefond and de Laurière, as part of the contract of marriage with his daughter Anne (called Aimée) de La Rebuterie, dame de Mailleberchie. Jean de Villedon thus became the Seigneur de Mailleberchie.


Mailleberchie remained a feudal domain of the noble family of de Villedon throughout the 17th century. The production of cognac (and later, Pineau,) takes hold in the area. Colonists leave Mailleberchie and its châtellenie for New France (Québec).


The barbican and enceinte, having lost their purposes, were destroyed in the 1700’s, although some vestiges remain incorporated in the foundations of the commons buildings to the North of the château, notably the system of vaulted cisterns deep underneath them. A small portion of a moat along the exterior of the old enceinte, built in the domains's extremely heavy clay, remains at the southeast of the château.


After a devastating fire, the razing of most of the main edifice took place. The planning and the reconstruction was prepared by Paul Abadie, the renowned and controversial architect of Sacre Coeur de Paris, and sculptor Ernest Jordes, a project which took from the mid 1800’s until completion in the 1890’s, under order of Henri de Blanc-Fontenille, (who later became Mayor of Villebois-Lavalette.) Paul Abadie never saw the completion of the building before his death in 1884, rather the new château was completed under the supervision of Abadie’s disciple Edouard Warin.


After the Franco-German War, and until the first world war, the Mailleberchie Estate was a small oasis of international sensibility, its salons entertained the intellectual class and European and English nobility simultaneously. During the second world war Mailleberchie once again became a border hot spot, lying between the German military occupation to its West, and the French Territory to its East. The Germans drew the new line immediately East of the château and made use of the château and its commons as a military commandery, with German generals taking residence there until the end of the occupation. The occupiers that made use of the château and their subsequent retreat left the property largely devastated. The Blanc-Fontenilles never returned to the property, instead selling the vast domain to a farming family from the Vendée, whose priority was the agricultural potential of the lands.


Inhabited only sporadically as a hunting villa, the château and its surrounding village persisted in an increasingly ruinous state up until the beginning of its restoration in 2007. In 2005 the majority of the agricultural buildings of Mailleberchie Commons were razed. At present the domain and the château have regained use as a home and lodge. The château is used privately and it is also the home of a small Buddhist community. Visits by the public are not permitted. The restoration, using authentic materials and methods, is ongoing.

Contact: steward@mailleberchie.com


The grounds and gardens at Mailleberchie Castle originate from the formal design laid out by de Villedon in the first half of the 18th Century. Most of the new world plantings were carried out in the 1850’s from experimental stock arriving with botanists in the harbor of Nantes.


The Park, Gardens, Orchard and Forests surrounding the château are noteworthy for their whimsical collection of various species brought to the grounds throughout the 19th century and since then. Much of the existing planting dates to this period.

Natural Disposition of the Domain, (as in the Mailleberchie Forest)

  • Quercus Pyrenaica, en: Pyrenean oak, fr: Chêne Tauzin
  • Quercus Ilex, en: Holly Oak, fr: Chêne Vert
  • Quercus robur, en: French Oak, fr: Chêne Pédonculé
  • Fagus Sylvatica, en: European Beech, fr: Hêtre Commun
  • Castanea Sativa, en: Sweet Chestnut, fr: Châtaignier Commun
  • Acer Campestre, en: Field Maple, fr: Érable Champêtre
  • Taxus baccata, en: European Yew, fr: If Commun
  • Ilex aquifolium, en: European Holly, fr: Houx
  • Cyclamen hederifolium, en: Sowbread Cyclamen, fr: Cyclamen de Naples
  • Hedera hibernica, en: Atlantic Ivy, fr: Lierre d'Irlande

Species Naturalized on the Domain

  • Trachycarpus Fortuneii (orig. China)
  • Washingtonia Robusta, en: Mexican Fan Palm (orig. Mexico)
  • Poncirus Trifoliata, en: Trifoliate Orange, fr: Citronnier Épineux (orig. China/Korea)
  • Gleditsia triacanthos, en: Honey Locust (orig. N.America)
  • Ficus Carica, en: Fig, fr: Figuier commun (orig. Western Asia)
  • Euphorbia Characias, en: Mediterranean Spurge (orig. Mediterranean)
  • Prunus × domestica, en: Plum, fr: Prunier (orig. Europe)
  • Galium Odoratum, en: Waldmeister, fr: Reine des bois (orig. Europe)
  • Allium Ursinum, Bear Leek, fr: Ail des ours (orig. Europe)


Eurasian Specimens

  • 3 Lebanon Cedars –Cedrus Libani- (planted approx. 1855)
  • 5 Italian Stone Pines -Pinus Pinea- (planted approx. 1950)
  • Goldenrain Tree-Savonnier-Koelreuteria Paniculata Laxm. (planted approx. 1925)
  • If-Taxus baccata -(planted 1855 by her Ladyship the Baroness von Weissenberg)
  • Deodar Cedar-Cedrus Deodara-(planting planned 2013)
  • Diosporus Lotus L.- (planting planned 2013)
  • Diosporos Virginiana L.- (planting planned 2013)
  • Ehretia Macrophylla Wall.-(planted 2012 as seedlings)
  • Gingko-Gingko Biloba- (planted 2012 -3m-specimen)
  • Cercis siliquastrum L. – Judas tree or European redbud
  • Staphylea pinnata, en: European Bladdernut, fr: Staphylea
  • Ceratonia siliqua, en: Carob Tree, fr: Caroubier

New World Specimens

  • Southern Magnolia -Magnolia Grandiflora- (planted approx. 1915)
  • Sweetbay Magnolia -Magnolia Virginiana- (planted 2012 -3m-specimen)
  • 3 California Redwood-Sequoia Sempervirens (Lamb.) Endl.- (planted approx. 1915)
  • Giant Sequoia-Sequoiadendron giganteum - (planted approximately 1855)
  • Silver Maple –Acer Saccharinum- (planted 2012)
  • Red Maple-Acer Rubrum “Fairview”- (planted 2012)
  • Acer Rubrum x Acer Saccharinum “freemanii Cf autumn blaze”- (planted 2012)
  • American Sweetgum-Liquidambar styraciflua “Ramifie”- (planted 2012)
  • Osage Orange-Maclura Pomifera-(planted 2012)
  • Washington Palm-Washingtonia Robusta-(naturalized and also planted 2012)
  • Red Buckeye-Aesculus Pavia -(planted approx. 1850)
  • 8x London planetree-Platanus × acerifolia, / American Sycamore-Platanus occidentalis (still to be distinguished) (planted approx. 1925)
  • Rhapidophyllum Hystrix, Needle Palm, (orig. USA)

Orchards and Fruticetum

Many of the fruit trees are over a hundred years old and represent cultivars that have become rare.  Today, the gardens supply flowers and produce for the Castle. Exotic species include:


  • Néflier du Japon-Eriobotrya Japonica (planted 2012)
  • Argusier-Hippophae Rhamnoides (planted 2012)
  • Pomegranate-Punica granatum (planted approx. 1975)
  • Japanese Persimmon-Diospyros Kaki (planted 2012)
  • White Mulberry-Morus Alba, fr: Mûrier (planted approx. 1890)
  • Medlar-Mespilus Germanica-(planted approx. 1960)


  • Citrus reticulata 'Jiouyuezao', en: Jiouyuezao mandarin (-13)
  • Citrus japonica, en: Kumquat (-12)
  • Citrus ichangensis × Citrus reticulata, en: Yuzu (-12)
  • Citrus reticulata 'Changsha', en: Changsha mandarin (-11)
  • Citrus reticulata 'Unshiu', en: Satsuma (-10)
  • Citrus sinensis × Citrus japonica, en: Orangequat (-9)
  • Citrus myrtifolia, en: Chinotto (-8)

Planned Acquisitions

  • Citrus reticulata × Poncirus trifoliata 'Changsha', en: Citrandarin (-18)
  • Citrus ichangensis, en: Ichang papeda (-15)
  • Citrus × paradisi × Poncirus trifoliata 'Dunstan', en: Citrumelo (-15)
  • Citrus × sinensis × Poncirus trifoliata 'Rusk', en: Citrange (-15)
  • Citrus japonica × Citrange 'Thomasville', en: Citrangequat (-15)
  • Cyclamen Repandum
  • Cyclamen Purpurascens
  • Cyclamen Coum
  • Mandarin Melon Berry –Maclura Tricuspidata (m&f!)
  • American tulip tree -Liriodendron tulipifera
  • Aesculus Parviflora Walt.

Contact: steward@mailleberchie.com


Contact via E-Mail to steward@mailleberchie.com