Buy Of The Week: Normandy

Hand-painted murals, ornate wood panels and floor-length windows set the scene inside this romantic Normandy castle

When she found Château de la Motte, she made up her mind to buy it immediately. Surrounded by six acres of parkland, overlooking two lakes, and enclosed within ancient stone walls, the six-bedroom house was in need of major repairs. But Beresford could see that the house, which was built on the foundations of an enormous 17th-century granite chateau, had a solid, strong fabric.

"Half the roof needed replacing," she says "but the rest of the structure was sound. There was no kitchen and only one bathroom and, of course, no central heating. The old parquet floors were almost unrecognisable, and there was different wallpaper on every inch of wall.

"I added three extra bathrooms and completed the other essential works, but the remainder was done with the help of eager teenagers belonging to various friends of mine, who would come out during the summer or for longer if they were enjoying a gap year.

"They would spend two or three hours a day stripping back the parquet floors with wire wool attached to their shoes and after a good session, they would leap out of the windows for endless games of ping pong."

In total, the chateau consists of a group of three large houses; the main house, built in 1821, which Beresford has made her home for the last 16 years, and two substantial gatehouses, the only remaining parts of the original chateau, dating from 1600, which she lets out to holiday-makers.

The interior of the main house is a testament to Beresford's unique sense of romantic style. After having studied and worked in design in Australia, she returned to England where she met her husband, the Australian film director Bruce Beresford.

"I have always enjoyed designing interiors, but I am not manifestly an interior designer. My talent is finding lovely things in junk shops and knowing where to put them - that's the part that I love."

The ground floor has two huge, pavilion-like rooms with rows of full-height windows overlooking the park. "It was the windows that sold the house to me," says Beresford - "and this room is lovely to come down to on a damp, cold Normandy morning." The kitchen looks on to the dining room through a wide opening that can be shut off with panels to create a more formal setting. "I keep the space open most of the time, unless I am entertaining the sort of guests that would prefer not to see the cats all over the kitchen," says Beresford.

Over the years, she has embellished the interior with murals painted by several different artists. The walls of the dining room were painted by Georges Margarin, whose portfolio includes Mick Jagger's dining room and the Cipriani Hotel in Venice.

A couple of local young artists, the Sineux, produced the decorations for the sitting room. Originally the doors in here would have been embellished with boiseries or ornate wooden panels, but they had been removed. The young couple painted replacements over the doors, and added ribbons and a picture of a sultry sky on the ceiling of the entrance hall.

The large master-bedroom has a parquet floor, which is continuous throughout most of the house, with four big windows facing east over the lake, and a weighty, rust-coloured marble fireplace. On the same level is a romantic chambre de bonne, with its wooden panelling and carved alcove. The library bedroom is a deep red, with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and the en-suite bathroom has an under-water mural which was painted by Beresford's daughter. On the top floor are three further bedrooms.

Another long-term project that Beresford undertook was the restoration of the garden. It was full of wonderful old trees, but most of the grounds had turned to a wilderness. "With the help of the wonderful French landscaper Alain Richert, I made a rose garden around the house." The cultivated area blends softly into wilder parkland beyond the swimming lake.

But, now that Beresford's children are scattered all over the world, she has decided that she would like to spend more time in London where she will be more accessible. "It's going to be very painful to leave," she says, "but I've bought a little stone house nearby and I will be coming back."

Get the spec

What's for sale: a six-bedroom French chateau with two gatehouses that can be rented out separately

Serious kit: parquet floors, marble fireplaces, muralled walls, panelled wood interiors

Extras: six acres of parkland with rose gardens and two lakes in the grounds; extensive outbuildings, which could be converted

Buy it: Château de la Motte is for sale through Mme C Baudrant (0033 23327 2001), price €1.4m

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
Suggested Topics
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Property search
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

People Change Manager

£260 - £325 per day: Progressive Recruitment: IT Trainer: E-Commerce Experienc...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn