Thousands of people have donated to a crowdfunding platform to save Mothe-Chandeniers chateau in Trois-Moutiere, Western France.
With a contribution of at least €51 (£45; $61) each, a total of 6,500 Internet users have managed to raise €500,000 to buy the 13th-century castle.
The crowdfunding platform Dartagnans.fr, which focuses on restoring cultural heritage, organised the campaign along with the cultural organisation “Adopt a Castle”.
It allows each donor to become a shareholder in the form of Société par Action Simplifiée (SAS), thus co-owner of the ruined castle, which is now due to be thoroughly restored.
The 13th-century castle was taken twice by the English during the Middle Ages and was looted and abandoned during the French revolution. In 1809, a rich Parisian businessman, Francois Hennecart, bought it and restored it, adding a vineyard to the property.
A baron and esquire of Napoleon III rebuilt the castle in 1870 in a romantic style inspired by the castles in the Loire Valley. In 1932, a massive fire broke out after Baron Lejeune Edgar installed central heating.
The damage was so devastating that, according to a report on Le Figaro “an entire library of rare books, Gobelins, tapestries, antique furniture and valuable paintings” were all lost. An association called “Friends of Mother-Chandeniers” was created in 2016 with the purpose to preserve the castle.
It is unclear what will be of the castle once it’s restored, but one thing is certain: it’ll be up to the owners to decide.
“We believe in the collective power and we want YOU, the future owners, to decide collectively and democratically on the future of the castle,” it says on the Dartagnans website. “[Will it be] an artists’ residence? A place of innovative and popular cultural development?”
n the campaigners’ mind, the castle is a “symbol of the collective, creative expression and the preservation and spread of heritage and culture.”
The project doesn’t end there, though. The main object is reaching one million euros to cover the financial expenses related to the purchase, the architectural expertise and the work of clearing and securing the premises, according to Romain Delaume, co-founder of Dartagnans, who spoke to AFP.
Delaume says this form of Internet cooperation to rescue cultural heritage is “unseen in the history of World Heritage”.
The co-owners can follow the restoration progress on Dartagnans and will be the first to visit the castle in Spring 2018.