The name Poulaines is thought to come from the Celtic word “pull/poull” which means marsh.
One of the village centre roads, on the route to Chabris, still currently bears the name of Haut-Marais (meaning high marsh).
Poulaines’ village centre, which, for many years, only comprised a few houses 8km away from Valençay, was organised as a parish around the church, dating back to the 12th century and revamped in the 15th century and in the 18th century.
The original bell tower was replaced in the 19th century by the current bell tower, covered by a distinctive imperial pyramid roof, towered by an eight-sided spire.
The château’s origin could date back to Gallo-Roman occupation, located along a Roman road dating back to the end of the 1st century or the beginning of the 2nd century. This road linked the North of Chabris to the South of Argentomagus, a Gallic oppidum near Argenton sur Creuse.
The presence of a seigneurial dwelling is documented since the High Middle Ages.
In the 15th century, the domaine de Poulaines, formerly the fiefdom of the Valvassière, belonged to the barony of Graçay. Pierre the 4th de Graçay, Lord of Diors, Chabris and Poulaines.
Perenelle de Graçay married Antoine du Boys. Their daughter, Catherine du Boys, married François Herpin (son of Louis Herpin and Louise du Plessis Richelieu).
The Southern facade with its buttresses, one of the château’s original parts, was deeply modified.
The apogee of the château de Poulaines goes back to the 16th century, and the works dating from that era are still visible on the Northern facade.
The latter, built in the Renaissance style, in the first years of the 16th century, is distinctive of its time with its mullioned windows and its dormer window with a shell-shaped pediment.
The chapel, which rose forming an angle at the entrance of the château, has disappeared.
It is difficult to determine how the hexagonal tower on the left of the manor was attached to the other buildings or to the chapel. Deep ditches surrounded the château.
The beautiful wrought iron gate comes from the former Feuillants Convent in Limoges.
It was installed by Victor de Brettes, who inherited it from his sister, a Canoness of Malta.
Though we do not know the names of any architects associated with the restorations of the manor of Poulaines in the past centuries, we do know that archives of the domain, including part of the deeds of ownership and the collection of books, were transferred in 1762 to Châteauvieux.
The 16th century: the domain’s golden age
René Herpin, son of François, squire Sieur of la Sasnière and Poulaines, married Marie du Moustier.
A description of the layout at the time gives us a clearer idea of how the manor looked.
“The garden was divided into squares separated by stunning wide sand-covered paths; there was a flowerbed across from the front steps reserved for aromatic and medicinal plants…it was quite different from the other manors in the parish: the residence, known as the Valvassière, was the indisputable winner of the title ‘Castel de Poulaines’ (Poulaines Castle)” (source Claude Rioland: Poulaines, Un Village Témoin de l’Evolution de la Ruralité en Berry des Origines à 1815 (Poulaines, A Village that Witnessed Rural Development in Berry from its Origins to 1815), preface by Marc du Pouget).
Louis Herpin, son of René, became Lord of Poulaines and extended the domain thanks to several acquisitions, including the sharecropper’s farm called the métairie de la Porte, in 1608.
This métairie drew its name from its location near the seigneurial habitation.
The same family inhabited Poulaines over several generations right up to the beginning of the 18th century.
Upon the death of Alexandre de Crespin, his pregnant widow left Poulaines which rapidly fell apart.
Alexandre’s mother married her second husband, Jacques de Noblet, who undertook considerable works.
Upon his death in 1741, the domain was sold to Hyppolite de Coudreau.
Upon his death, his wife Jeanne de la Marche, moved back to the Château de Châteauvieux and took with her the numerous books from the library and all the archives.
These archives have not yet been studied.
Late 18th century
Jean-Baptiste Hippolyte Godeau, a farmer-general, bought Poulaines (without the metairie de la Porte) and handed it down to his eldest daughter Marie-Joséphine who married Victor de Brettes in the middle of the 19th century.
The buildings which closed the manor’s quadrilateral were destroyed by Victor de Brettes.
They were replaced by the sequoia that can currently be seen in the forecourt.
The outbuilding located to the North-East does not appear on the plans of the domain of the end of the 18th century.
It is composed of stables and service quarters built in the 19th century by the Brettes family.
Their son-in-law, Martial de Brettes, a member of the military and a botanist (a herbarium with plants endemic to the Valençay Region is kept in Limoges), was a long-term mayor of Poulaines.
Under his service, the presbytery, the town hall and the boys’ school were built.
His wife endowed the bell tower, after its reconstruction, with a new bell.
The Brettes family lived in the main part of the domain until the middle of the 20th century.
They are the ones who ordered from the village priest, Eugène Duroisel, at the end of the 19th century, the monograph “Poulaines, the seigneury and the surrounding fiefdoms”.
Towards 1950, it became the property of M. Brillard, an architect.
The main part of the domain was purchased by the current owner in 1991 from the Brillard descendants.
Thanks to the support of councillors passionate about their local history, the monograph was made available to the current owner who undertook to reconstitute the domain in its entirety by acquiring plots.
Ten years were necessary to piece together the Metairie and it ended in spring 2014 with the purchase of the last building which, for a while, was used as the cinema of the village of Poulaines.
The domain currently includes its dwelling, its service quarters, its stable, its farm buildings and gardens.
(Drawn from the studies carried out by the architectural company Perrot-Richard and the APJRC)