History of the keep of Bours

The lords de Bours can be traced in the charters as far back as the end of the 12th century. Adam of “Boors”, a knight, is recorded as having committed to paying the Tithe (a tax paid to the Church) to the brothers hospitallers of Haute-Avesnes. They included warriors who took part in osts (feudal army during campaign) and landowners managing their respective fiefdom.

Indeed, in those days Bours consisted of hamlets and lands around Antigneul, Alligues and Lalihue woods. Over time, more lands were inherited: Huclier, Belval, lands at Cambrin or Hénin-on-Cojeul.

The site and the fortified house with its current architecture were built in the 14th century. The estate was made up of an upper and lower bailey, all surrounded by large moats and ditches. The seigniory was a free-vassal of the powerful county of Saint-Pol.

As regards its owners, the knight Jean de Bours died in 1390 without descendants. The seigniory was passed on to the House of Mailly, a renowned family in Picardy, Jean de Mailly having been a brother-in-arms  of de Bours...

 

Abandon and ruin

Reconstitution drawing of the keep of Bours

In 1516, Adrien de Mailly sold the seigniory. It was subsequently acquired by the de Noyelles family. This period was marked by wars between Francis I, King of France, and Charles V, King of Spain (which included Artois).

In 1537 and 1543, the residence, the lower bailey and the village were burned down by French troops. Why was the tower spared by the flames? Built entirely out of sandstone, it withstood the inferno. The interior was destroyed, however. Since all levels had to be rebuilt, the incident lead to a thorough makeover.

Even though restored, the castle was rarely occupied after that. Alexandrine de Noyelles, Lady of Bours, married Maximilian de Sainte-Aldegonde de Noircames. As a result of their alliance, the seigniory fell under this family at the end of the 16th century.

Historic Monument

The lower bailey was demolished in the 19th century. The castle fell further into disrepair. Léonie Salmon then purchased the keep and its large grounds. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was saved from demolition following an action by Father Routier. The Fortified mansion was later acquired by the Tiberghien family.

In 1962, the site was sold to the French State for a symbolic franc. The Keep was listed as a Historic Monument in 1965.
Following an initial restoration campaign, it was home to the town hall administration from 1982 to 2014.

2016-2017, conversion in a Historic center

Restoration plan for the keep of Bours

As the town of Bours put the historic site at the disposal of the local administration (Communauté de Communes du Pernois), the monument is currently undergoing more works, with the aim of turning the building into a historical interpretative centre.

The first restoration campaign concerned the enclosed plot and the roof. From September 2014 to July 2015, the exteriors walls were repointed, the rotten carpentry replaced, the roof renovated. The structural works also concerned all the interior foundations.

Today, the goal is to transform the place in a Historic center. Aside from the keep, a welkome hall will be created. And everything will be done to ensure accessibility to those who are disabled.