The Castel

Texte traduit par Sylvie Durand-Valentin avec l’aimable collaboration de Mme Miriam Bastide.

In 1325 the Count of Savoy ceded his seigniorial rights over Saint Priest to Guy Richard from a noble family of St Symphorien d’Ozon. The Richards became the first lords of Saint Priest. They would occupy the castle for more than three centuries, until 1645, when Jacques Guignard, a wealthy bourgeois inhabitant of Lyon would buy it.
He and his descendants would make it their home, occupying it more or less until 1838. The first house of the new lord seems to have been modest. It was a fortified house surrounded by ditches. The north-west tower and part of the central body are the only vestiges of the castle building of this period, ie the early 15th century.
In 1450 this stronghold would be extended by the building of the north wing. It is in this wing, which was very well built and is remarkably preserved, that can be found the most beautiful room of the castle: the living room of Charles VII (who stayed here several times in 1457). It is bathed in light from two magnificent mullioned windows with window-seats. It would seem that it was the last of the Richards who drew up the plans for the magnificent monumental staircase which leads up to the floors of this north wing but it was the first Guignard who built it from 1645.

In turn, this family (ennobled by Louis XIV) of diplomats, soldiers and ministers, would extend and renovate the castle and gardens until 1838. From 1838-1939 there would be a succession of different owners including Augustin Planque who headed the African missions. At the turn of the 20th century he built the watchtower at the north-west corner, the pyramid roof towers of the main courtyard and the dungeon turret. In 1939 the town of Saint Priest would acquire the castle but it was the beginning of the Second World War and it was requisitioned by the armies in conflict. It was only in 1946 that the town would recover its property and its park which had been completely devastated following the occupation of the German and American troops. However, at the end of 1946 the town rented part of the property to AFPA which set up its training centre there until 1959. Some work was carried out but over the years the building fell into disrepair. Total demolition of the building was envisaged but has fortunately been suspended! From the 1960s to the 1990s many associations and some local services were installed at all levels of the building In 1991 the voted its total rehabilitation. It would take place between 1995 and 1998 and would blend modern with old to combine the past and the future. This remarkable restoration makes the Chateau de Saint Priest the heritage jewel of the area and has enabled almost all the history of this beautiful 700-year old building to be put on display. The combined coats of arms of the two illustrious families who owned the place now float on the northern esplanade of the site. The coat of arms of the Richards – in azure with three cinquefoils of silver – beneath the three stars of that of the Guignards, and the two dolphins recalling the Dauphiné, have together combined to make an historical blazon which has become the official emblem of the town of Saint Priest.