About Tour des Archives
The Tour des Archives is the keep of a former castle in the commune of Vernon Normandy, France. Its origin dates to 1123, built by King Henry I of England, the son of William the Conqueror. It is 22m high and is a rare existing example of a round tower in Normandy, architecturally similar to the so-called Joan of Arc Tower of the former Rouen Castle. The Tour des Archives has been classified since 1840 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Tour des Archives history
The Archives Tower, locally known as Tour des Archives, lies in the centre of the city of Vernon, in the Eure department in France. Vernon Castle was built by King Henry I of England in 1123 yet the town and castle were taken from the English in 1196 by King Philip II of France. King Phillip II rebuilt the castle, which formed a defensive system against English forces, along with the bridge over the river Seine and Tourelles Castle on the other side of the Seine.
The walls of the tower are 3.5 metres thick at the base and the front door is on the first floor. It is accessed from the curtain walls of the ramparts by a drawbridge over a moat. It would therefore have been necessary to descend a staircase to go to the lower room.
The Archives Tower was once called the Sixteen Knights tower. When the keep was no longer used for its defensive function, it came to be referred to as its present name as it was used to store municipal archives in the 18th century.
Tour des Archives today
The former site of Vernon Castle is now largely covered with a modern cultural centre. What remains is the keep, part of the castle wall with a corner tower and a freestanding base of another corner tower. The interior of the keep itself can not be visited. From the remaining wall, only the inner facade can be seen. There are houses built in front of the outer facade, so that side is not visible.
The tower has been heavily restored.
Getting to Tour des Archives
The nearest train station is Gare de Vernon.
As one of the great historic regions of France, Normandy is bursting with a number of stunning castles with equally compelling histories to match. Here's our pick of 10 of the best.