The Stables

published at 02/01/2017

The stables were built in 1877 by Paul-Ernest Sanson, the architect of the prince and princess de Broglie. They were considered at the end of the 19th century to be the most luxurious, most modern palace in Europe; the saddle room contains magnificent harnesses, made by Hermès.

Horses were of prime importance during the second half of the 19th century. Even though they were gradually being replaced by the railway for medium-length and long journeys, the animals were still the most widespread means of traction among private individuals. In addition, they served as a sign of wealth, as horse-drawn vehicles had long been an essential indication of prosperity. They were also required in the organisation of hunts, and noble lords would have their coats-of-arms emblazoned on their carriages and show off the magnificence of their footmen’s livery.
Chaumont-sur-Loire’s stables are typical of what wealthy members of the aristocracy had built to accommodate their horses in the later years of the 19th century.

In 1877, the princely couple entrusted the famous architect Paul-Ernest Sanson with designing the stables, which had to be the most sumptuous and modern in all Europe. Sanson opted for a brick and stone ensemble (brick was regularly used in the late 19th century in the building of equine palaces), also making use of an old sculptural feature present on the château’s facades (a sculpted frieze alternating the double “C” of Charles II de Chaumont and a mountain in flames).

The stables are set around two communicating courtyards of unequal size, the larger for use by the lord and lady of the estate and the smaller reserved for their guests. The great courtyard is most certainly spacious enough to have accommodated the many horses and horse-drawn vehicles that made use of it, as well as the staff who manned it. The stables operated round the clock, with a large number of servants constantly in attendance. Twenty or so staff (outriders, coachmen, footmen, stable-boys, postilions and grooms) carried out their various tasks under the eye of the head coachman, who managed the stables. The attic rooms lodging servants assigned to the stables are on the upper floors of the various buildings (not open to the public) .

Paul-Ernest Sanson envisaged yet greater extension of the stable buildings, although his plans were never carried out. A few years later, in 1892, the experience he acquired at Chaumont served the architect well in designing the Marquis de Breteuil’s model stables.