Dating back to the 10th century
The historic Château de Bussolles, originally built in the 10th century, was a quadrangular defensive stronghold, characterized by four massive square watch-towers with battlements and a round tower. The castle was rebuilt in the 13th century, on foundations dating back to the Middle Ages. The current castle has retained some elements that seem to date from the 14th century. At the beginning of the 19th century, in 1810, the castle was thoroughly restored.
The castle is located in the Têche valley and is surrounded by various farms.
On June 19, 1375, nobleman Jean Albert, Prévôt de Gagère (governor), first made a note of the fief of Bussolles, owned by the lord of La Palisse. At the end of this 14th century, in the year 1393, the Obeilh family took over the noble title from the lord of Bussolles. The Obeilh family retained ownership until the mid-17th century. Through an inheritance, the castle of Bussolles came to Antoine Henri de Chavagnac in 1683. The family crest is still present on a mural in the Chapelle de Bussolles. After his death on June 28, 1706, the domain was divided into three owners, one was Jean-Baptiste des Gallois de La Tour (see photo), later member of parliament whose famous son was involved in the French Revolution. After the death of this Charles-Jean-Baptiste des Gallois de La Tour, first president of the Parliament of Provence, the castle came into the hands of Pierre de la Faige. In 1831 Bussolles transferred to Claynes Eugène, son of the mayor of Lapalisse. Descendants of the family are buried in the Chapelle de Bussolles, just north-east of the castle. The castle remained in this family until the middle of the 20th century.
By the end of World War II, on August 2, 1944, the village of Neuvy-sur-Loire was completely destroyed by bombs dropped by the Allied Forces. During this bombing, the son and heir (of Château de Bussolles among others) Jacques Aubert de la Faige died at the age of 55, together with his wife. In the same year Uncle Théophylle De La Faige (1961-1944) also died. Shortly after the end of World War II, Emile De la Faige (1961-1945) died too and the castle was sold by the family following years.
Château de Bussolles is one of the 24 castles that served to defend the Besbre Valley, on the border between Bourbonnais and Burgundy. It is located in an oasis of peace and quiet, in a strongly hilly landscape of forests, lakes and meadows. Characteristic of this region are the English-type hedges around the meadows. The use of pink granite from a local quarry makes the harmonious whole of square and round towers shine in the sun. One of the towers contains a spiral staircase made of Volvic lava rock (the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand was built with the same type of stone). Over the centuries, the rooms were modernized and equipped with every comfort. All this with respect for the historical elements such as medieval fireplaces, the old sacristy with wooden paneling next to the former vaulted chapel, dating back to the Hundred Years War, which lasted from 1337 to 1453. Around 1810 the castle was thoroughly restored, which can be seen among others is on the buttress above the middle window of the balcony. An inscription reading “Benoit 1805 Benard” is still faintly visible.
The castle is less than 30 km away from the city of Vichy, which during the Second World War was the capital of the part of France not occupied by the Germans, officially the French State. The French government however, located there, collaborated with the Nazis and from the end of 1942, Barrais-Bussolles was also officially occupied by the Germans. Henriette Pichon, who led a chic private school for girls with her husband Henri before the war north of Paris, had to leave the school when the German troops advanced. She then reopened her school in Château de Bussolles, a number of students went with her. During the war, she hid a group of Jewish children there from the Nazis, helped by staff and people from the immediate area. Henriette Pichon died in 1964 and was posthumously awarded in 2010 by the Holocaust Remembrance Authority Yad Vashem with the title “Righteous Among the Nations” for her help to the Jewish children.
(source: ‘Une Juste à Bouffemont’ by Claude Dewaele – 2010)