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Château Lagorce

Anna and Edward

This Château Lagorce isn’t just an ancient building with a remarkable history.It’s also enormous.
There’s nothing remotely this size in this part of France. So running it while simultaneously renovating it is a big challenge. And one that Edward and Anna Holmes have accepted cheerfully.

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Lots of the couples you see on the show renovating a Château have bought their property together, as a team venture. But when Edward first met Anna back in 2007 he was already managing one. So you’d think that might put him in the running, at least for a date, when he asked her out.

But you’d be wrong. She said no.

A date worth waiting for

However Edward isn’t the sort of person to give up easily. So he kept asking. And when she relented and they finally went on a date, he made sure it was a memorable one, involving horse riding and helicopters!
His romantic gesture obviously did the trick, as Anna and Edward are now happily married and have two children, Charles and Emma.

Slowly does it

Edward’s parents had paid for the Château de Lagorce in 2001. It’s the biggest Château in the Bordeaux area and Edward’s mum had fallen in love with it. It took them over two years to complete the paperwork and for the property to become legally theirs. And that was only the start of the process because it took them considerably longer to improve the building to a standard where guests could be invited to stay.  

It’s a family affair

However Edward, and his parents, plus brother and sisters worked really hard to renovate the building, and improved it almost beyond recognition. Edward moved into the property permanently in 2005 and his family entrusted him to manage it.

Here comes the bride

Two years later he was introduced to his friend’s sister – and the rest is history. Within six months Edward had proposed, and this time Anna said yes first time! After a two-year engagement the couple married in 2009.And no prizes for guessing where the wedding venue was, they said their vows in Château Lagorce.

Château Lagorce has a long and sometimes violent history.

This vast medieval château gets its name from “The Great Gorce” a type of vegetation which grew in this region of France around the beginning of the 16th century. It was originally a castle protected by a moat. And the oldest tower, which still survives today has walls 1.2 metres thick. Both were essential features during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries when Lagorce was involved in many feudal wars fought in this area. Part of the building was destroyed during these conflicts.

Different owners through love as well as through war

However the building changed hands through marriage more frequently than through battle, and many illustrious people have resided here over the ages.
It was sold after the French Revolution in 1802 in a very bad state to a local wine producer, who began restoration. But it wasn’t until it had been sold on several more times and we’re nearly up to date in 2003 that it began to resemble anything like its original state.

Edward to the rescue!

Because that’s the date Edward and his family took over and began the long and slow process of a complete internal renovation.A process that Edward and Anna are continuing, even now.

Much of the history still survives

If you visit the Château there’s plenty of the building that still survives today as a reminder of its long history.As well as the 15th century tower the building boasts impressive gates that were added in the 18th century. But perhaps the Château’s most spectacular feature is the monumental steps built before Napoleon’s visit for the inauguration of the Lord Mayor of Haux.

Keeping up the tradition

When Anna and Edward renovate the Château, they pay great respect to its history. Everything they try to do is homage to the past. They try to find traces of how the Château used to be, so they can if at all possible make it look as it used to be.

Original is best

For example, when they discovered some original paint on the walls of a room that was there before the shutters were put up, they went to a local paint shop to find a match so they could redecorate the whole room in its true colours. Similarly, they look for furniture that fits in with the age of the property, for example traditional four poster beds are chosen for the bedrooms. 

Nothing can look out of place

Even when they have to renovate with modern appliances in areas like bathrooms and kitchens so their guests can enjoy 21st century comfort, the aim is to respect the ambience of the building and not to look too different from what people would have seen perhaps a century or two ago. 

The challenge is enormous

As you might have predicted, the biggest challenge in renovating the Château is the sheer size of it. Anna and Edward only managed to complete the roof seven years after the property was bought. (Although Anna’s fear of heights and climbing onto the roof may be partly responsible for the slow progress.)
Now they want to move onto the walls. 

A Château owner’s work is never done

But it’s hard to juggle tasks when a lot of the property needs to be continually kept up to scratch. Bathrooms have been refurbished at least once and sometimes more since 2004. And the massive 8×25 metre pool has been renovated three times since the couple moved in 14 years ago. Prioritising tasks is the only solution, so the most essential repairs and refurbishments are carried out first.   

But still there’s time to play

Despite the amount of work to be done Anna and Edward try to make time for their kids. Charles loves playing outside, and they’ve turned gardening into a game so Anna can combine looking after him with looking after the château’s grounds. He even helps with the watering, although he’s better at watering himself and Anna than anything else.

So far most of their business has been weddings.

Although they also offer group holiday lets and event parties. And if anyone has enough close friends and family, they’ll even rent out the entire Château and its 22 bedrooms 

It’s been manic for the couple ever since they arrived.

And their appearance on the Château DIY show has increased bookings. It got them a lot of publicity especially in 2019 when Emma arrived (literally!) on the show. 

Time for a rest

The only quiet season they’ve had is now, and that’s because of the pandemic, with every wedding cancelled. But although it’s been bad for business, at least it’s given Anna and Edward a chance for a well-earned breather!

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