THE LAST TIMBER-FRAMED HOUSE IN THE VILLAGE
This lovely building is the only timbered house in the village and has a facade dating from the 16th century and foundations that where built earlier than that.
Note in this house the presence of turrets and mullioned windows on its facade that shows the architectural evolution of the building until the 16th century. We can strongly argue that this house was an urban set with the Maison de la Commanderie on the other side of the Rue Gaudet (façade remodeled in the 19th century during the construction of the Rue Guadet). The house still has a remarkable polygonal tower containing a beautiful spiral staircase of the 16th century. It was probably between the tower and the Commanderie that stood the connecting building. A watchtower, a walkway... the details referring to a defensive field... A fortification inside the city, was it needed to protect people? Questions remain unanswered for now...
The hilly geography of the site of Combes on which is based the medieval city has gradually defined the social separation of the population between "High and Low Town" or more clearly "religious part and secular part". The origin of the word "catena" from Gascon meaning "chain" could refer to the presence of a chain that physically divided the city into two parts but there is no visible trace on the building today. From a historical point of view the "cadène" would hold its origin to one of the owners of this house, Guillaume Renaud de la Cadène, who settled in the 13th century.
Sculptures adorning the lower parts of the wooden house also leave room for several interpretations: characters, animals, vegetables, fruits... Bunches of grapes for some, corncobs for others... Renaissance composition and influence of Italian and probable reference to the import of products from the New World, freshly discovered at the time of the latest artistic developments of this house!
> The rich heritage of Saint-Emilion is easily told during the visit "Saint-Emilion, UNESCO City Tour": from April to November at 11:00am. Information and tickets here.