The Exshaw family were wealthy traders in cognacs and “eaux de vie” spirits who had permanently relocated from their native Ireland to Bordeaux in 1805. Frédérick was born in 1826 and, around the early 1880s, he commissioned architect Louis Michel Garros (best-known in Bordeaux as the man behind the 1865 fountain on Place du Parlement) to design a mansion inspired by the houses that were all the rage in Britain during this Victorian era.
|Frédérick Exshaw, |
The original grounds were the work of landscape gardener Eugène Bühler. To maintain the British feel, the garden’s most prominent feature was its grass, intercut with Alpine forget-me-nots, rhododendrons, pansies and azaleas. More exotic plants were cultivated in a heated greenhouse. One observer described it all as a “véritable tapis de verdure”. The “veritable carpet of greenery” is long gone for the most part, although it is said that two conifers and an oak tree from the Exshaw era can still be seen in some of the now-private gardens on Rue Théodore-Gardère.
|Hôtel Exshaw as it looks today in its trade union HQ incarnation.|
That, then, is Bordeaux, but how about the Médoc connection? The house where Frédérick Exshaw died on June 18th 1902 was his family’s country residence, 48 kilometres to the north, in Cussac-Fort-Médoc. He had purchased the land in 1880 from the Caupène family, who had inherited it from local dignitary Sire de La Chesnaye. Delivered in 1882, the mansion house had been built around the same time as the Saint-Genès residence, had also been executed to the designs of Louis-Michel Garros, and too incorporated a number of features reminiscent of the British architecture of the time (which had also inspired the design of the neighbouring Château Lanessan).
|Château Lachesnaye, the Médoc residence where Exshaw died.|
And, unlike its Saint-Genès counterpart, Château Lachesnaye still enjoys the luxury of wide open spaces all around, enabling its distinctive silhouette to clearly stand out on the horizon!