History

Origin and Fame

La Maison Dovalle was built in the early 1500’s and acquired by the Dovalle family in the late 1700’s. Around 1800 the entire seven member family was poisoned by a maid employed by a cousin who was also the mayor of a neighboring town. Two family members died as a result, and both the mayor and maid were convicted and sent to prison. Every summer the story is re-enacted by the locals in front of Maison Dovalle, an event that attracts many history buffs, romantics, and tourists.

 

Charles Dovalle (1807-1829)

Charles Dovalle, a romantic French poet, was born in the manor on June 23, 1807. He completed his classical studies in college at Saumur and later studied at the Faculty of Law of Poitiers. Throughout his studies, he had shown  a deep love of romantic writing, and his desire to write poetry continued under the pen name of Pauline A. He used this when publishing in literary journals.

Charles Dovalle as imortalized on the Monument aux célébrités montreuillaises.

 

Dovalle was drawn to Paris to find his fame and to pay his way, he wrote for various publications, including theater reviews. One such review so irritated Mr. Mirra, Director of Variety Theatre, that the two soon found themselves dueling with swords and eventually pistols--which resulted in Dovalle’s death on November 30, 1829. Dovalle is buried in the Montmartre cemetery, a column of white marble sheltering his grave.

 

When Dovalle was fatally shot, the bullet that killed him ripped through a manuscript collection of poems he was carrying, destroying some of the words in the last verse: “The young women .. abandoned ...”. A publisher later attempted to fill in the words before Dovalle's work was published. Dovalle died as he lived—poetically.

 

Victor Hugo and other writers of the time recognized Dovalle for the grace and freshness of his writing. Yet his verse was also said to have portrayed his angst. As a poet, he was torn between sentimental neoclassicism and ideological romanticism. Some of Dovalle’s work can be read on the poesee.com website.

 

Charles Dovalle Honored

Seventy years later Charles Dovalle was honored, along with three other natives of Montreuil-Bellay, with a monument in the village. The monument was declared a public project in 1887 by the President of the Republic and inaugurated on August 14, 1898. The three other natives of Montreuil-Bellay honored are René Moreau (1587-1656), physician to Louis XIII and Louis XIV, Pierre Duret (1745-1825), first surgeon in chief of the Navy, and Toussenel Alphonse (1803-1885), writer and naturalist. The image shown on this page is of Charles Dovalle as portrayed on the monument. For more information on the monument see this page written by Jacques Sigot.

 

Transformation to an Inn

La Maison Dovalle was acquired by the Reiley family in the late 1990’s. Soon after, Muriel Reiley, the manor's curator, decided to  renovate the manor with the dream of creating a beautiful and intimate inn. She spent the better part of twelve years adding new central heating and modernizing the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, and Grand Room. Modern amenities make the living areas a luxurious and comfortable retreat. To retain the historical essence, Muriel kept much of the interior structure and character as it was when the house was built. Of particular note is the spiral stone staircase, polished and worn and centuries’ old, multiple large stonework fireplaces, and the original wood rafters and beams. The exterior of the manor, as well as the lush, manicured gardens, are as they were originally.

 

La Muse romantique

Brűlant d’amour, palpitant d’harmonie,
Jeune, laissant jaillir tes vers brűlants,
Libre, fougueux, demande ŕ ton genie
Des chants nouveaux, indépendants.
Du feu sacré si le ciel est avare,
Va l’y ravir d’un vol audacieux ;
Vole, jeune homme !… oui, souviens-toi d’Icare :
Il est tombé, mais il a vu les cieux !
The Romantic Muse

Burning with love, quivering harmony
Young, from which flows into your hot,
Free spirited, ask your genie
New songs are independent.
The sacred fire if the sky is miserly
Go to the delight of a daring theft;
Fly, young man! ... yes, remember Icarus:
He fell, but he saw the heavens!

Charles Dovalle