The Old Castle's Friends

A non-profit Association under the ‘Law of 1901’


Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, the feudal Old Castle of Moulins-Engilbert has been dominating the city since the time of the Crusades. Before that, the Gauls and the Romans may have occupied the site (Bibracte, Vercingetorix's Gallic camp was only 20 kilometers away).


In 1215, the Earl of Nevers became the castle's owner. In 1463, the States of Provinces met there to define the terms of useage in the Nièvre area. Louis XI came here to hold his political meetings in 1475. However, in 1525 the castle was partly destroyed by fire and from then on the ruins were left derelict.


We don't know much more about it, especially since in 1851 the owner, a citizen of Moulins-Engilbert, got upset by his defeat at the local elections and handed down the Old Castle to the neighbouring town, St Honoré-les-Bains! It thus became a public garden and was even closed in 1987 for safety reasons.


Reopened after a few restoration works, led by the town of Moulins-Engilbert under the direction of Joseph LAMBERT, the Old Castle has been registered on the inventory of historical monuments since 17th June 1993.


The site occupies an area of about half an acre and was described in the following words by Serge Bernard (Regarding Moulins-Engilbert, Edition F.O.L., 1989):


“The entrance of the fortified area is framed by two stone posts linked by a basket-handle arch. The portcullis guides can still be spotted on each side of the opening passage. The vault to the right of the entrance was used as a prison in 1791. The construction built to defend the entrance dates back to 1475. The arrow slits can also be seen in the wall. This entrance leads to the first parade ground, positioned alongside the limits of a further precinct, the second parade ground. The castle itself, which used to take up an area of 16 by 6 meters, has only one wall left, with two large perpendicular mullioned windows set in it. The abutments support some lintels. The darkened iron fitments would testify to a destruction by fire. The main courtyard used to stretch out northwards. The remaining stones from the other walls must have been used later on for private buildings.”


Contacted at the end of 2004, the town of St Honoré-les-Bains showed great understanding and agreed to give up the Old Castle to protect its future. The town of Moulins-Engilbert could then consider repurchasing it, which eventually happened, after a few administrative problems, on 16th December 2006.


That was the end, or rather the starting point, of the story since a non-profit Association under the ‘Law of 1901’ called “The Old Castle's Friends” was created on 22nd September 2006. It is aimed at safeguarding, as well as exploiting and animating the site of the Old Castle and its surroundings.


Joining this association means contributing to the preservation of the local heritage and, after more than 150 years, makes the people from Moulins-Engilbert proud once again of owning such a fascinating, mysterious place.


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