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The house’s early history is unknown, but it is certainly over 300 years old, and probably much older as it is commonly thought to have been one of the first major buildings of the village. It originally had substantial grounds, which are now used principally for farming. It is unlikely to have been a residential house in past history, as the dimensions are more those of an institutional or community building.
One past use of the house was as a house of instruction for nuns in the nineteenth century. It was used for some time as cavalry quarters during the first World War and then as a refugee centre between 1940 and 1943 when this part of France remained free but it was commandeered in 1943 for eighteen months by the occupying German army.
After the war, it was used as a health and fitness camp for children and refugees. Owned by a local farmer who cultivated only the land, it lay empty and dilapidating from the late 1940s until I bought it in 1997 and restored it with the help of a local builder. The original interior design of the house was faithfully followed, yielding The swimming pool was added in 1998, a new roof in 2006 and a tiled ground floor in 2007. The roof was re-tiled in 2012 after a major hailstorm.
Mansonville is located in the department of the Tarn et Garonne and is also on the borders of the Gers and Lot et Garonne departments. Historically, it is in the old province of Gascogne, and is also within the area known as the Pays de Lomagne. A feature of the area is that it has a more Mediterranean climate than the Dordogne and the northern Lot regions. While the summers are very hot, the winters can be very cold.
The area has a beautiful and varied landscape ranging from forested hills and valleys to dramatic cliffs, large rivers and rolling farmland. It is known for its châteaux, fortified churches, its pre-historic caves and dozens of mediaeval villages and towns such as Auvillar, Valence d’Agen, Beaumont de Lomagne, Montcuq, and Lauzerte. The local countryside is often compared to Tuscany in Italy. It has become more popular with English and Dutch expatriates and visitors in the last forty years, and local markets in the summer months have many tourists.