Ben and Billie are accomplished musicians, Ben has recorded over 250 singles and 18 albums and Billie has sung with such names as McCartney, Sting and Annie Lennox. After they saw photos of La Grande Maison at a show in Earls Court it was love at first sight and off they set to see it for themselves.
So 12 years on, on Channel 4’s 2nd episode of Chateau DIY : Living the Dream last Sunday, we revisited the amazing amount of work they have accomplished during their stewardship of the beautiful, and much loved, 18th century Château La Grande Maison.
We saw them bringing the Orangerie back to life using greenery and water features to create the appropriate ambience. To inaugurate the space they brought in a renowned chef who prepared amazing dishes for the lucky invitees.
Next project was the dilapidated Botanist Laboratory which involved craning in a huge skylight to bring light into the room; but not content with this, they went on to replace the original skylight so as to recreate the authenticity. Bookshelves, comfy sofas and a cosy fireplace became an inviting venue for their first book club event.
Next our industrious couple turned their attention to glamping and Ben was tasked with raising the weathered roof of the old boat shed which ultimately became an outdoors bar. Adjacent to the old boat shed/bar they purchased a glamping tent which they furnished with chateau style furnishings – including the mandatory chandelier!
The Honeymoon Suite was their next project and they took a room which had no electricity or plumbing and created a mouth watering space for the bride and groom, including a huge soaking tub just right for a glass of bubbly.
A major allure when they first visited the chateau was the fantastic ballroom which is the size of two tennis courts. The walls were in disrepair with divots and cracks. The couple lovingly – and I must say very patiently – restored every inch of the impressive ballroom walls, ultimately panelling them and adding gold ornamentation to create the look of Versailles. The ballroom Grand Opening ribbon cutting was performed by – who else – a professional dancer.
For more on Ben and Billie and the Chateau La Grande Maison go to https://chateauxescapesfrance.com/chateaux/chateau-de-la-grande-maison-poitou-charentes-deux-sevres
To watch the episode go to https://www.channel4.com/programmes/chateau-diy-living-the-dream/on-demand/75358-002