Jacques De Cuers (son of Henry De Cuers) bought the house in 1651 from Honoré Marquesy, Lord of Ramatuelle and King’s Counsel. This fine residence was henceforth referred to as a château, due to the standing of its new occupants. It was home to five successive Lords of Cogolin and their descendants, until the eve of the Revolution.
The château was almost in ruins after the Second World War.
In 1961, Lucien Sellier and his wife took over and restored the château. They donated it to the municipality, which then decided to use it as an exhibition venue.
Today it houses temporary exhibitions by painters, sculptors and visual artists.
Since 2017, La Demeure is closed to the public, waiting for a restructuring.
Church saint-Sauveur saint-Etienne
In Cogolin, there are records of an initial Parish church as early as 1079, but in the absence of any architectural remains it is unknown where this place of worship was located.
The current building, which dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, is dedicated to the Holy Saviour and to St. Etienne. Its construction required the use of basalt, a porous, dark grey lava stone, extracted from quarries located in the vicinity of Cogolin.
But its true originality lies in its atypical architecture. As a rule, churches either have one or three naves, whereas this one has two, the style of the first nave being Romanesque and the second Gothic.
It also contains some remarkable liturgical objects. Several works are listed as historic artefacts, including the triptych by Urlupin (1526) which remains one of the finest works in the Gulf of St Tropez, and its 17th-century high altar, made from polychrome marble. The Gothic nave presents contemporary works by local artists. Its exterior architecture, restrained and immense, thus comes as a contrast to the works found inside.
Cogolin’s clock tower and boundary wall constituted a defensive system which enclosed the local houses and the seigniorial château. This gate tower, dating from the late 13th to early 14th centuries, was one of the entrances to the village. Access was gained along a ramp, then over a draw-bridge across a moat. A portcullis, known as a sarrasine, protected the village in the event of danger.
This tower was constructed with basalt, a porous, dark grey lava stone, and the rock on which the village of Cogolin was founded.
In the early 14th century the village of Cogolin had a population of around 500.
In the second half of the 16th century, a clock was installed at the top of this tower. One person, usually a locksmith, was appointed and paid by the local community to “run the clock”.
This fragile mechanism operated with a balance weight and required regular repairs. The hours were sounded by a bell dating from 1587.
During the French Revolution, this bell was saved because it was part of a civil building, and therefore was not melted down to make weapons for the Republic. It can be found today in the bell tower of the parish church. Its Latin dedication Sancta Maria ora pro nobis, means ‘Saint Mary, pray for us’. In 1911, the municipal council decided to buy a new clock, which was eventually installed on the pediment of the town hall in 1930.
Water has never been much of a problem in Cogolin, unlike in other Provencal villages.
This is because the old town is founded on a volcanic mound and surrounded by the foothills of the Maures mountains. The water which flows abundantly in this wooded massif streams down from the mountains to feed into our underground reservoirs. The piped water as we know it today did not exist in the town until the early 19th century.
In 1821, a spring was discovered which flows all summer and supplies a public fountain on the outskirts of the village. The first fountain was constructed in 1857, in the heart of the old village.
In 1867, a public trough was built, the “Font Vieille” (old fountain). In 1913 and 1914, two fountains were set up, on Avenue de la Gare (now called Avenue G. Clemenceau). Then two circular basins were built: one in the middle of Place de la Mairie, surrounded by a wire fence to prevent accidents, the other on Place Victor Hugo, which proved to be short-lived.
In the late 19th century, in order to increase the number of fountains in the streets, an underground basin system, fed by a pumping station, was constructed. The water was conveyed to the fountains through pipes and intermediate basins by the force of gravity.
Fountains visible today: the town hall fountain, the Demeure Sellier fountain (with three spouts), the fountain on Place de l’Abbé Toti (known as the mushroom fountain) and the fountain on Place Victor Hugo.
Fountains which no longer exist: the old fountain (trough), Square Jean Moulin, Rue Marceau, Rue de la Résistance, Rue Carnot, and the trough in front of the Tourist Office.
If our village has one distinguishing feature, it is surely its porches.
It is difficult not to notice these door ornaments while strolling through the charming narrow streets.
The porches are all sculpted from two types of rock, which are easy to recognise with this description:
– Serpentine is a mineral rock which is dark green in colour (due to copper oxidation) with white and yellowish veins running through it. Its glossy patina and very fine grain are reminiscent of snakeskin. It is essentially used as an ornamental stone.
– Porous basalt is a grey lava stone, of which the village’s geological substratum is composed. It was produced by a volcanic flow more than 5 million years ago. The holes are bubbles of oxygen held in the lava.
It is interesting to note that in this rurally focussed village, with its modest houses, it is surprising to find so many porches and such a variety of architectural styles (Classical, Gothic, Romanesque).
The first chapel, on the right, was built around 1630. It was converted into an agricultural building with a cowshed on the ground floor and a hay loft on the upper level. It was restored between 2010 and 2012 for use as an exhibition space.
The second, on the left, replaced the old one around 1820. These chapels were home to the Brotherhood of White Penitents. They accompanied the deceased to their final resting place…