an Employee of a school day, a craftsman in his own mansion in the evening. Day in the life of Olivier Thomas is not trivial. To give life to his abode in the Fourteenth century, located in Carnoët, it is transformed in turn by mason, carpenter, ferronnier, mucker… “In the 1980s, in the centre of Britain, a lot of mansions have disappeared. Nobody took care of it. The wrecking ball took of the stones for the properties of the sea…”, he laments. By becoming aware of the beauty of these old stones – and their vulnerability -, Olivier Thomas has launched.
And he is not at his first attempt. He has already spent 10 years to rehabilitate a the first mansion fell into disrepair in the Morbihan. A juggernaut of thirty-five meters long, with a spiral staircase of 34 steps. “I fell in love and had to get a move on”, says he. Of the British and then a heritage architect, bought the building once the renovation completed.
Coup de foudre
in the Face of the magnitude of its task, Olivier Thomas had promised not to repeat the experience. It was without counting on his thunderbolt for Locmaria, in 2008. “Here, the point is that we are dealing with a package with its dependencies: the manor house of the Fourteenth-Fifteenth-century, the barn, the Fourteenth, the crib, the barn of the Sixteenth century. Often, it remains a part of the manor house, but the dependencies are much more recent. Here, this is not the case.”
Olivier Thomas had to set the order of its priorities. “I started with the more urgent, the roof, and then the securing parties that threatened to collapse”, he explains. In 1956, a part of the facade, too old, had collapsed. A true work of craftsmanship was required for its reconstruction: “of the stones were broken into several pieces. He took the stick up to fashion puzzle”. The kitchen he has booked a nice surprise: under the layer of earth appeared “a tiling of the Fourteenth century,” resembling an assembly of irregular boulders.
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The historical Monuments greet this work: according to Hervé Raulet, the mandated protections for the northern sector of Britain, “it has been the desire to restore provisions that had been destroyed but which had been documented and also restore items damaged”. In 2017, the regional commission, charmed by “the architectural features of the building, said it was in favour of registration of Locmaria as Historic Monuments. The restoration has been “conducted in a manner that is coherent, logical and convincing” welcomes M. Raulet.
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“A work of patience”
of Necessity, the actions are little costly but they are even particularly respectful. “To the tower, I reassembled the 6.50 m, which lacked in height, I have done everything by hand. The grids of windows that have been forged with the hammer and the anvil. Not a nail, not a screw in the doors, everything is pegged. And I came up with two hoists the main parts of the structure […]. But all of this is for economic reasons”, if excuse he almost. “Each thing is used […] and a good restoration is a restoration that is not seen.”
The book is as discreet as tedious. “Here, this is a long work of patience, I work in the long term, not in the immediacy. When I bump on something, I am already thinking about the sequel”, develop. In addition to the work of the old stones, it is working now to reconfigure the garden, and went in search of old roses.
Olivier Thomas was already well advanced, but his mission is not quite over yet.”I’m a smuggler, ‘ said he humbly. “I know love the place, bring them back to life. Saving a site, I also saves a portion of memory of brittany.” If the man is lonely, his project has indeed a collective scope.