A quarter league from the Roman road, nestling on a modest hillside, stands the old abode of Moullins, surrounded by emblems of past glory: castral chapel, dovecote, wells, medieval aisled hall, outbuildings,.Within two acres of good, clay-rich soil, surrounded by enclosing walls, ten centuries mingle. Times were rarely clement on this site, situated at the fringes of three powerful and bellicose forces: the Duchy of Normandy, the Kingdom of France and the earldom of Maine-Anjou. One needed to be courageous and determined in order to settle. However, the Benedictine monks snatched this architectural grouping away from wars, intrigues and scars from the time, preserving its autarchy, even over prolonged periods. Erected, extended, damaged, badly burnt, truncated, restored, added, the buildings retain most of their original architectural grandeur.
They include two separate groups of edifices, though partly intertwined: - the free-standing aisled hall, the last one still standing in France, dating from the first part of the 14th century, a gable wall circa 1250 and a tower, both later included in the abbot's residence, all remaining from the priory first built in 995 and destroyed by Henry V's army in October 1417. - the private residence of the mitred abbots of La Coûture (Merovingian abbey in Le Mans) built at the beginning of the 16 century, its chapel and dovecote
Over the past 31 years, the owners, helped by numerous and talented members of the association of Friends of the Medieval Domaine of Moullins, and also by the Ministry of Culture, the Regional Council of the Loire Valley and the General Council of the Sarthe, restore each and every year this remarkable remnant from the Middle-Ages.
The restoration works are carried out with the most scrupulous attention paid to authenticity, using the help of archival research, archaeological analysis (including that of INRAP, the official body for preventive archaeology surveys) and tree-ring dating.
Initially, the owners were totally unconscious of the magnitude of the task they were undertaking. The original love at first sight deepened onto a passion which shows no sign of abating. Nevertheless, the dilapidation of the buildings, the multiple difficulties of restoration did not spare the impassioned couple financially, physically or morally. In fact, their taste for detail and the will to preserve each witness of the rediscovered past added to the obstacles already strewing the path. Is it madness? Who cares! They only have another 20 years of work, for the most amazing restoration works of the medieval aisled hall. The aisled hall, the residence and the chapel have managed to pass the stumbling blocks left by time and man.
In 2007, the completion of the restoration works on the abbots' residence over 25 years was awarded a prize by VMH-French Heritage Society In 2010, the salvage works on the chapel were partly financed by The "Demeure Historique" Foundation and the Le Lous Foundation. The buildings are open by appointment to the public all year round. The visit includes history over 12 centuries, architecture and archaeological reading of the buildings and the site, according to the visitor's interest. In Moullins, "beaming gothic" lives side by side with "flamboyant gothic".. We hope that you will enjoy the website visit, but be aware that it is just a summary of what you will see on the premises and of the long history of the domaine placed, for better and for worse, at the limit of the Duchy of Normandy, the County of Maine and the County of Bellème.
Come and see the latest restoration works and the activities of the association of Friends of the Medieval Domaine of Moullins. We are just 5 miles from exit n°20 of the A28 (Rouen/Le Mans) and 45 km north of Le Mans.