A castle and its family: the Tournemines

Built in around 1220 by Olivier Tournemine, the Château de la Hunaudaye protected the eastern border of Penthièvre (Lamballe area), which was engaged in conflict at the time with Le Poudouvre (Dinan region). The castle was destroyed in 1341 during the War of the Breton Succession, a civil war that raged in the Duchy of Brittany for over 20 years.

At the end of the 14th century, Pierre Tournemine began rebuilding the castle and integrating the military innovations of the day. The three largest towers and main building of the castle date from this period. By the end of the 15th century, the Tournemines had become a powerful family in Brittany, and they received the title of Baron de la Hunaudaye in 1487. In the 16th century, their domain included over 80 parishes as well as many lands, dominions and castles in the province of Trégor and the area around Nantes.

From the Renaissance to the French Revolution

The golden age of La Hunaudaye coincided with the end of the Tournemine line at the beginning of the 17th century. The Renaissance staircase was added to the west wing of the main building in an attempt to bring the castle up to date with contemporary tastes. However, its decline had already begun: its upkeep was increasingly neglected, and lands and domains were gradually sold off.

During the French Revolution, the castle was suspected of being a potential Chouan stronghold and was pillaged and burned.

Modern history

Now beyond repair, the monument served as a rock quarry until the early 20th century. The peaceful atmosphere of the site, which was gradually returning to nature, was however regularly disturbed by visitors drawn to the castle from far and wide, for various purposes. The best-known of these is surely Thomas Edward Lawrence—better-known as Lawrence of Arabia—who was fascinated by medieval architecture and often spent time in Brittany. Many locals also frequented the ruins, which had become popular as a place for rendezvous, picnics, games and fêtes. The 1922 collapse of the north curtain wall attracted the attention of the government, which listed the monument and acquired it in 1930. Thirty years later, the site was closed to the public as it had become too dangerous for visitors. It remained closed until the creation of an association in 1977 by a group of heritage-lovers who were determined to breathe new life into the castle.