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L’histoire du Domaine de la Geneste

1339 – Les premières traces

The first mention is made of the fiefdom of La Geneste in Châteaufort in 1339. It then belonged to Jacques Lenormand and Jacqueline Lemire, a Parisian bourgeois couple.

Au rythme des actes de vente ou d’hérédité, aveux, hommageset saisies, ce fief changera de nombreuses fois de propriétaires : plus d’une soixantaine au total en près de sept siècles.

Under seigniorial law, confession is a written declaration that a vassal must provide to his suzerain when he takes possession of a fief. Tribute is the establishment or renewal of an agreement that publicly recalled the existence of a feudal relationship between two families. This rule lasted until the Revolution.

1554 – Le premier château

Thanks to these notarial acts, we learn that at La Geneste, at the end of 1554, a water mill and a dovecote already existed, as well as an old windmill built of wood that was destroyed in 1568. A first castle was probably built at that time.

1614 – Les pierres de l’ancien donjon

In 1614, Lord Philippe de Parent had it rebuilt with the stones from the ruins of the old medieval keep of Marly, which was located on the promontory of Châteaufort, near the current church.

1726 – La saisie féodale

As an anecdote, on July 8, 1726, Jean Bignon, a baker in La Trinité, was wounded by a gunshot during the feudal seizure of the Domaine de la Geneste, but the incident, probably not serious, was settled amicably.

1786 – Un château et un corps de ferme

On 31 January 1786 the estate was described in a deed of sale as follows: "Newly rebuilt castle, large courtyard, cow shed, stable, barn, sheepfold, pig roof, henhouse and garden. »

1857 – Le château actuel

The current castle dates back to 1857. It was built by Mr. Stenhover with the help of the architect Eugène Petit. The outbuildings were redesigned and the old castle destroyed.

1889 – Quesnel et une voltige exceptionnelle

In 1889, a certain Mr. Quesnel acquired the Geneste. In 1913, this man made it possible to achieve a quite exceptional and never before achieved feat above his domain: the first parachute jump by abandoning an aeroplane in mid-air.

1913 – Celestin Pégoud et le premier looping

Indeed, on August 19, 1913, Célestin Adolphe Pégouda young aviator still unknown, proposed to experiment, from the Châteaufort aerodrome, with a new parachute system developed by inventor Frederic Bonnet. On the verge of taking off, the gendarmerie, mandated by the Prefect of Seine, formally opposed it, as this test was considered far too dangerous.

Against all odds, Mr. Quesnel then intervened in the negotiations by proposing that the experiment be carried out above his private property, at the very risk of seeing his castle damaged by the fall of the plane in perdition. Short of arguments, the gendarmes let Pégoud take off.

And so, under the watchful eye of the cameras of the Pathé house and a large audience, the aviator made history by abandoning his airplane at an altitude of only 250 m. The plane, an old reformed Bleriot XI, then left to his own devices, made curious arabesques in the sky, seeming to want to repel his inevitable fall.

Pégoud arrivé indemne au sol déclara aux journalistes « Je l’ai vu faire, tout seul, the loop (nom donné à l’époque à une attraction foraine). Vous voyez donc bien que c’est possible. Aussi, vais-je le tenter ! »

About ten days later, in Juvisy-sur-Orge (91) he was the first pilot to overturn his aeroplane and fly 400 metres "head down", then, on 21 September 1913, he carried out the first voluntary looping in Buc (78) in history. Aerobatics was born and Pégoud was very popular, and made many demonstrations all over Europe!

His experiences, far from being mere aerial acrobatics, had a direct decisive influence on the French supremacy of air combat during the First World War, which soon broke out.

© Pascal Bouchain (Châteaufort).