Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree speak out on ‘foolish’ Chateau decision
Escape to the Chateau’s Dick Strawbridge discusses the future
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Chateau de la Motte-Husson, which is situated in Martigne-sur-Mayenne, France, was originally a fortified stronghold in the parish of La Motte from the 12th to 14th centuries. In 1406, the Husson family, seigneurs of Montgiroux, named the castle and then the Baglioni family of Perugia acquired the estate in 1600. It was then rebuilt within the square moat during the period from 1868 to 1874 and it served as a summer home for Countess Louise-Dreothee de Baglion de la Dufferie’s family. Then in 2015, Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree visited the property and fell in love with it. They then uprooted their lives and moved into The Chateau with the intention of transforming it into their dream home and business. The couple has said the decision to do so “could be considered foolish” and explained why they took the plunge.
Six years ago, Dick and Angel moved into a new home, in a foreign country, “in the middle of winter, with no electric, sewage or heating” and their two children – who were young at the time – Arthur and Dorothy.
The decision was spurred on by their mindsets that they can fix anything and loved the sense of adventure it brought them, as well as wanting to “create a new life” for themselves and their loved ones.
They had the challenge of transforming 45-rooms inside The Chateau, as well as restoring or converting the many outbuildings across the land and moat they owned and “after years of neglect” it took them “hard work and dedication”.
Luckily, the couple found the original plans and bills for the rebuild so were able to renovate the property sympathetically.
Along the way, Dick and Angel found The Chateau had numerous features that proved attention to detail, and said “it was extremely encouraging when excavating the hole for our new sewage system, that we discovered the foundations of The Chateau which go down beyond the 2m hole we dug, showing some of the construction of the original castle”.
On the first floor of The Chateau, the former Madame and Monsieurhad suites of individual bedrooms and there was a Salon d’Honeur, which was their meeting place.
“We wondered if it was purely by chance that the master’s suites had a staircase to the servant’s quarters,” they commented.
There was also one part of the property that they “fell in love with” on first sighting.
“We have an orangery, with which we fell in love when we walked around the property waiting for the estate agent to arrive,” Dick and Angel explained.
It has taken six years for the family to complete the inside to a habitable state and now their attention is on the surrounding outbuildings and ideas to expand their business.
Dick and Angel say The Chateau is “more civilised” and “life is good” for the family.
“It certainly seems like a lifetime ago that we picked up the keys to our very own French chateau and we pinch ourselves every day, even on the days when we argue and have to clear up the flies we still smile,” a comment on their website thechateau.tv said.
“We feel very blessed that The Chateau is now teeming with life and activity, not only courtesy of our children Arthur and Dorothy, who simply love exploring their very own ‘castle’.
“But with guests who have been on the journey with us: those who have been inspired to ‘have a go’, and those who have simply enjoyed the fantasy from the safety of their armchairs!
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Over the past year, The Chateau has been closed to weddings and other events, but this hasn’t stopped Dick and Angel cracking on with jobs around the property and land.
In a clip posted to The Chateau’s official Instagram account, Dick was seen in “his happy place” – the walled garden.
Dick is all about self-sufficiency and he and his family grow a variety of vegetables and fruit which they eat throughout the year.
He is so passionate, he and his eldest son James Strawbridge had written their own book.
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And in an expert from Practical Self Sufficiency : The Complete Guide to Sustainable Living, the pair advise: “We can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and be more self-sufficient.
“For some, that might mean upping sticks and living off the land.
“For the rest of us, the reality might involve smaller, but no less important, lifestyle changes: cutting back on plastic or food waste, growing vegetables, preserving meat and fish, preparing jams and chutneys, baking sourdough bread, making your own plant-based milks, or keeping a chicken or two.”
All seasons of Escape to the Chateau are available to watch on 4oD now.
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