the story so far
Over the past year we have been working hard to transform a heritage site into a space to think, space to create and space to gather. Here’s what has happened so far.
Chateau de La Salle was built in 1870 and has been in the ownership of the Houitte de La Chesnais family ever since. But for the last 30 years, in an unfortunate twist of fate, it lay empty; abandoned.
In the spring of 2016, following a need to take some time away from a busy London life, Jessica, the youngest daughter of the family, returned to this – her childhood summer home – to re-think her approach to living. Jessica spent her days repairing the chateau to return a sense of stability and warmth to her ancestral home. But during her time that summer, pulling the ivy from the walls and sweeping the empty corridors, Jessica brought stability and warmth to herself.
Having gained a sense of purpose, she wanted to share the calming environment of the estate with others, to use the space to discover themselves and the things they care about. And given the size of the task at hand, she couldn’t do this alone.
The story of Chateau de La Salle as a community-led project began when Jessica met Will, who at the time was on his way to burning out at the hands of a hectic London life. Drawn to the possibility of using a space to better connect to himself and others, and eager for a big challenge, Will became the second resident of Chateau de La Salle in spring 2017. They were soon joined by Tamara, whose interest in forming meaningful communities took her from Belgrade, Serbia to rural France. With the three founders under one roof, they immediately set out building the new future of Chateau de La Salle.
What followed was a busy summer that saw 170 visitors and hosted four events; an entrepreneur summit, a yoga retreat, a music writing workshop and an 85 person ‘unconference’ with guests from 22 countries, many returning throughout the summer. With the support of all who visited, they were able to renovate some of the estate’s outbuildings on an almost zero budget (restoring the chateau is going to take much more time and investment).
Chateau de La Salle exists to provide its community with the space and infrastructure to develop their ideas. Most of the 2018 programme has been curated and inspired by the events of 2017, thus, with the community curating the majority of the content, the chateau and its identity belong to the many who call it ‘home’.