Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre

Château de Montpoupon

Life in a château on the Loire in the early 20th century.

Aerial view of Château de Montpoupon, a private family residence in the Loire valley.

The childhood of Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre

Bernard, the third child of Emile and Jeanne de la Motte Saint-Pierre, was born in the family château of Montpoupon on August 28 1875.

On the day he was born, he was christened in the chapel of the château and received his first prayer book, which he kept all his life.

Bernard discovered his military vocation very early on, as can be seen from this photograph taken when he was eight years old in the company of his personal valet, Louis.

Hunting with hounds was a family tradition at Montpoupon and Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre was initiated into that art. At the age of 10, he occasionally followed the hunt on his donkey, Friquette.

In the early 20th century toys were precious. In spite of the industrial revolution which made things cheaper, toys were reserved for the privileged few.

The toys displayed in this room belonged to Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre and his daughter, Solange.

The puppets of the Guignol Theatre…

and the fluffy toys amused Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre.

The cork ring which appeared in the late 19th century enabled children to learn to swim which Bernard did at Montpoupon.

The horse-drawn carriage was the only means of locomotion. At Montpoupon it was also drawn by donkeys.
In this photograph, Bernard is driving the carriage, accompanied by his cousin Gérard de la Verteville.

Bernard studied at the Collège Stanislas in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, a catholic school founded in the early 19th century which has a reputation for excellence. It still trains young people today, from infants’ school to higher education level.
This photograph shows Bernard with his class in 1892.

In this photograph, Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre was 17 years old. On completing his education, he applied to join the military college of Saint-Cyr.

Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre then began his military training with the 6th Regiment of Dragoons of Evreux.

He soon became a junior officer. His brother was a sub-lieutenant in the same regiment.

Here we see Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre in the uniform of the 6th Dragoons which can be recognized by its collar, bearing the number 6 a helmet and a braided dolman. This uniform gradually disappeared in the early 20th century and was replaced by a full tunic with a row of nine buttons which Bernard would have worn during the First World War.

The military career of Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre.

Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre was called up when the First World War broke out, joining his new regiment, the 25th Dragoons of Angers, on August 2 1914. He was then a reserve lieutenant.

He was wounded in action but returned to the front after his convalescence and was appointed captain of the 13th Dragoons in September 1918.

Musique emblématique du 13° Dragons

Some of the military equipment of Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre can be seen in his bedroom on the second floor of Château de Montpoupon, including his kepi, sword, epaulette case and captain’s trunk, as well as many other articles.

The passions of Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre
Venery, also known as hunting with hounds, had taken place in winter at Château de Montpoupon since the mid-19th century.

Bernard took over the Montpoupon hunt created by his father in 1873.

Here, he is wearing the coat of the Montpoupon hunt which is cherry red with purple facings.

(For more details about hunting wear, please see the “Hunting, art and traditions” exhibit)

The hunt sets off from Château de Montpoupon. Bernard, the hunt master, leads the hunt, followed by the whipper-in and the hounds.

Before each hunt, Bernard would send invitations like this one.

Hunt members and guests gather before the hunt. Some choose the “comfort” of the first motor cars to follow its progress.

Elegant attire was required after the hunt. A dinner jacket in the hunt’s colors and a starched shirt front were essential.

Alongside hunting with hounds, another of the passions of Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre was horse racing.

Bernard owned a stable. His colors became official on September 23 1921 with the creation of the Montpoupon Stud Farm.

The jockeys’ silks of the la Motte Saint-Pierre family were yellow and blue.

Bernard would meet his friends at the races. This photograph shows him at the Longchamps racecourse shortly before the Second World War.

The family life of Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre

Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre married Thérèse Béeche à Irarrazaval, of Chilean origin and a descendant of Christopher Columbus, in Paris on November 22 1911.

When they arrived at the Château de Montpoupon, the staff, who numbered about a hundred people at the time, organized a reception for them and the Montpoupon hunt greeted them with a fanfare on their horns.

Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre inherited the château on his father’s death in 1912. Mrs Emile Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre, Bernard’s mother, lived with them until her death in 1924.

This photograph shows her dressed for the hunt with her son and daughter-in-law, wearing the hunt’s colors, at the entrance to the château.

Solange de la Motte Saint-Pierre was born on September 21 1918. Her father was granted leave and arrived at Montpoupon two days after her birth.
This photograph shows her with her mother, Thérèse.

Bernard’s bedroom as it can be seen today.

Bernard’s starched shirt front bears the initials B.M.S.P., as did all his possessions.

A top hat was an essential accessory to complete his outfit. No-one would go into town without a hat!

The cane was another fashionable accessory in the early 20th century.

This one has a silver top containing a tiger eye (a kind of quartz – a semi-precious stone).

Bernard traveled a great deal and would not leave home without his toilet case.

As with his clothes, Bernard put his initials on his suitcases.

An internal telephone system was installed in the château during the modernization undertaken by Bernard in the 1920s for communication between many of its rooms.

Bernard also had hot and cold running water installed in the château, as well as electricity and central heating throughout.

Bernard was interested in all the latest developments and motor cars in particular. In 1913, there were four vehicles in the Montpoupon fleet:

- an eight-cylinder De Dion

- a Licorne limousine with a De Dion engine

- a Licorne Torpedo Coupé with a De Dion engine

Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre imprinted his strong personality on the history of Montpoupon.

Always in tune with the latest fashions, he gave life at Montpoupon a unique style and the château is still inhabited today.

Château de Montpoupon
Credits: Story

The Louvencourt family, owners of Château de Montpoupon

The Association of Friends of the Musée du Veneur at Montpoupon

Clémence Bevand, creator of the exhibition

Photographic credits:
Jean-Paul Payreault
Château de Montpoupon

Video credits:
Château de Montpoupon

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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