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Report 1980: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 1 Southern Finistère

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 25 of 26: Manoir de Kernault

photo by MAW

Manoir de Kernault

Manoir de Kernault doesn’t figure in the guide books. I had read about it on the internet where it was described as “a lovely 15thC building which had been modified to meet 18thC requirements ... a remarkable example of the evolution of a rural mansion.” We were intrigued and although it was a long drive, decided it would be worth it. We didn’t know about the exhibition then.

It was described as near Mellec. Fortunately Quimperle Tourist Information had sent me a map showing the route, otherwise we would never have found it. There is a sign off the main D765 Quimperle to Bannalec road but then you are on your own.

It has a large and impressive granary. There was a loud speaker outside the iron gateway connected with the exhibition 'Colours of Sound' which ran all year (2011). "Hum," we thought. There was a large flowing wooden sculpture looping round the end of the granary - definitely a bad sign. There were bits of paper stuck on the walls. At first we assumed these were part of architectural surveys checking on the building. We later found out they were connected with the exhibition in the manor.

There is a small ticket office with smaller shop selling a few books and postcards in what would have been the steward’s house.

The manor is a delightful building with pale stone walls and a slate roof with dormer windows and tall chimneys. Our spirits rose as we walked towards it.

Inside there is a large and impressive Seigneurial Hall with a large carved fireplace and three large tapestries on the walls. These had been found in the attics and rehung. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to see these easily as there was a huge cube in the centre of the room with a picture of Yann Paranthoen, assorted modern chairs, loud speakers and ear phones hanging from wires.

The exhibition (or perhaps 'experience' is a better description) spread through the rest of the house, even in the cellars. It was impossible to enjoy the architecture.

The servants slept in a room above the cellars and it is possible to see the blocked off doorway to the privy. The kitchen has a large fireplace, with a small wall oven for cakes and pastries. There is a large stone dish warmer under the window.

A small chapel was built at the end of the house. There is a small window into the bedroom so the lord of the manor could attend mass and not mingle with the servants. There is also an inside doorway so he didn’t have to go outside to get to the chapel.

We understand Yann Pananthoen had been a famous broadcaster on French radio. Over his career he had taped country sounds and this was an exhibition based on his work. OK, we are heathens and don’t appreciate this sort of thing which we find pretentious and self indulgent... He had no connection with the area or the Manor and we felt the exhibition detracted from the building. As we left the woman in the ticket office pointed out that there were more recordings we could listen too. We thanked her and declined with our reasons.

We had been expecting great things of this place and were terribly disappointed. The exhibition was intrusive and ruined the feel of the place. We went for a walk towards the pond and there were even outside speakers here.

It is possible to see the outside of the manor through the large wrought iron gates and take pictures of the outside without having to pay to go in.

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