French Chateau Laces                © J. Ames 2013

Imagine owning 18 chateaux! This is the happy circumstance of a lace collector in Maine.

Rarely do we have an opportunity to view laces of such exquisite beauty as this set of 12 French chateau place mats and a table runner depicting an additional 6 chateaux. It is needle lace that stops us in our tracks; lace so very special that a viewer may forget to breathe!

The present owner's great grandmother purchased this set in a New York City lace shop in 1910 for $2,000. Since then, the family has protected them. All the place mats are enclosed in frames, and the table runner has been sparingly used.

Each chateau is identified within the lace. The plant life surrounding the delicately worked chateaux is appropriate to each. All are different and fun to study.

These were made before the widespread destruction of two World Wars in the 20th C. Present images of the chateaux may be different. After Vi Eastman photographed these laces, it was possible to enlarge them on a computer (only possible in recent years) and see the minutest details. Then, a search chateau-by-chateau was done. A marvelous grand tour of French Chateaux!

If you have any additional information that can be shared, please include in your comments. Specifically value, whether there are other sets of these chateau laces in lace collections, and where/when they were made and by whom.

J. Ames



Chateau de Coucy was destroyed by the Germans in March 1917. It had been built in the 1220's and renovated in the 19th century. On the internet it tells of the dynamiting using 28 tons of explosives. The destruction caused so much public outrage that in April 1917 the ruins were declared “a memorial to barbarity”. War reparations were used to clear the the four smaller towers and to consolidate the walls but the ruins of the keep (largest tower) were left in place. Current photos show the ruins.


Chambord is a royal chateau in the French Renaissance architectural style, built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francois I, who maintained his royal residences at Chateau de Blois and Chateau de Amboise (also featured in this set of lace chateau images). It is the largest chateau in the Loire Valley, and is surrounded by a 13,000 acre wooded park and game reserve. Construction of Chambord begain in 1519. Open to the public.


Chantilly is the site of two attached buildings – the Petit Chateau built around 1560, and the Grand Chateau, which was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1870s. Chantilly is owned by the Institut de France and houses one of the finest art galleries in France. The library of the Petit Chateau contains over 1,300 manuscripts (some 200 of which are medieval) and 12,500 printed volumes, including a Gutenberg Bible. This site is open to the public.


Fontainebleau's construction began in the 16th C. during the rule of Francis I. An older chateau on this site was in use in the latter part of the 12th C. This is one of the largest French royal chateaux, and many of France's kings have lived here. Part of the chateau is now home to the Ecoles d'Art Americaines, a school of art, architecture, and music for students from the United States. The school was founded by General Pershing when his men were stationed here during World War I.


Chateau de Sully is approached by an axial stone bridge across its moat. It was built to control one of the few sites where the Loire can be forded, and has perhaps been fortified since Gallo-Roman times, certainly since the early 11th C. The first cylindrical keep's foundation, built in 1218, has been located. As with many chateaux, it was built and restored over the course of several centuries. The chateau of Henry IV's minister, Maximilien de Bethune (1560-1641) and the ducs de Sully, it remains the home of the present duchesse de Magenta and her family. Listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.



Chateau de Chaumont is a castle founded in the 10th century. Louis XI ordered the castle's destruction in 1465. Rebuilding started almost immediately. The castle was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550, and it was here that she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. This site has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. It was donated to the government in 1938, and is currently a museum open to the public.



Outrelaise (in Normandy) was built during the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It appears to currently be a privately-owned conference center and bed & breakfast.



Maintenon is best known as the private residence of the second spouse of Louis XIV, Madame de Maintenon. Construction began in the 12th century and ended roughly in the 18th century. It is classified as a Monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2005, the property was given to the Conseil general d'Eure-et-Loir.



Chateau de Luynes – an early castle on this site in the Loire Valley was destroyed in the late 10th or early 11th C. Rebuilding began in the 12th C. This chateau has experienced destruction and rebuilding for centuries. The dukes of Luynes still own the chateau.



Chateau de Bethune was an important 11th C. fortress on the Sauldre River.  Some time after the lace was made (late 19th C.), the name appears to have been changed to Chateau de la Chapelle d'Angillon.  This, and other lace images in this chateau collection are related to the family names of Bethune and Sully, presenting interesting comparisons for historians.  The site is now used for special public and social events, and there is a museum of art objects.


Petit Trianon is a small chateau located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, constructed by order of Louis XV for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. She died before it was completed, and it was occupied by her successor, Madame du Barry. When Louis XVI became king, he gave the chateau and its surrounding park to his 19-year-old Queen Marie Antoinette for her exclusive use and enjoyment.



Chateau de Blois was the residence of several French kings. It is the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English from Orleans. The multiple buildings were constructed from the 13th to the 17th centuries. It has 564 rooms and 75 staircases. The 16th century library at this site was eventually moved to the royal Chateau de Fontainebleau where it became the royal library that forms the core of the present Bibliotheque Nationale de France.




                                                                 Rambouillet                        Bonnetable


                                Moulin                           Pierrefonds                    Amboise                 Fenelon


East End of Runner – 25” wide (Chateau de Fenelon)


Chateau de Fenelon (east end of table runner) is located in Dordogne, Aquitane, France. It dates from the 13th C., but what is seen today is mostly from 16th C. refurbishments. A combination of Middle Ages fortifications and Renaissance beauty. Furnishings are from the 15th to 18th centuries. Open to the public.



Chateau de Bonnetable was restored in the 1470's by the Norman family d'Hartcourt, after the original 11th C. chateau had been demolished during the 100 years war between Great Britain and France. The chateau has a long history with links to many European royal families. During the 1880's it was extensively renovated in Neo-gothic style, and renovations continue to the present. It is privately owned and not open to the public.



Chateau d' Amboise has a very ancient history, dating back to the 9th C. It is where Mary, Queen of Scots, was raised by Henry II and his wife, Catherine de' Medici. Records show that Leonardo da Vinci was buried in the church of Saint Florentin, part of the Chateau d' Amboise. During the French Revolution the greater part of the chateau was demolished. Rebuilt, since 1840, it has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture. Presently, the comte de Paris repairs and maintains the chateau through the Foundation Saint-Louis.



Chateau de Moulin (west end of table runner) was built in 1492 in the Franco-Italian art style. It is surrounded by moats, as can be seen in the lace. It is privately inhabited.


Chateau de Rambouillet was a fortified manor dating back to 1368. In 1783, it became the private property of Louis XVI, who bought it from his cousin as an extension of his hunting grounds. During the French Revolution the chateau was emptied of its furnishings and the gardens and surrounding park fell into neglect. Since the late 19th C., the chateau has become the summer residence of France's Presidents of the Republic.



Chateau de Pierrefonds bears the characteristics of defensive military architecture from the Middle Ages, though it underwent several restorations through the centuries. Classified as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1848. This chateau has often been the “location” for modern films and TV series.

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I was so excited to find this post. I have been tasked with researching the value of some family linens, and here you have them... well, in a more pristine condition! Ours were used as placemats, and have some stains/wear. There are 12, 3 of each of 4 castles, plus a runner. I don't have the runner, but here are the 4 placemats:

Facinating. But they are different. This set lacks the distinctive vegetation in the other set, having instead a uniform and more prosaic background. Also, the castles are different, and set against a different background mesh. Were they from the same manufacturer, but different price points? Or was it a popular theme made in different places? Or possibly, dinner placements, and lunch placemats?


Very very interesting, and beautiful.  Needle lace, of course.  It looks to me as if the ground behind the castles is twisted buttonhole.  Of course, we can't be sure because the photo isn't quite close up enough.  But the overall spacing suggests twisted buttonhole.  The area outside the castle inserts is nearly all corded buttonhole, with just a few fillings added in a few areas.  Probably not more than 3 or 4 fillings used in that area, counting all four placemats.  But I didn'[t do an exact count.  The ring fillings are interesting.  The ones J. Ames posted used a more open bar type filling behind the castles; thess have a mesh.  They were intended as a set, I think, because the border around the outside is the same in all.

What about date? 1900 give or take 20 years??

$ value?? I haven't a clue.

What do you all think?

Cardinal: thanks for posting these.  A treat for the eyes.

I am a complete novice to lace, so I am having to check definitions on your comments! I am uncertain of the date for the placemats. My husband's grandmother was married in 1926 and had an extended tour of Europe for honeymoon, so I am guessing she acquired them then. Pure speculation on my part.

I do have close ups of the centers, and one corner close up to share. I didn't want to be obnoxious by posting them all at once. Next time I'm at my in-laws, I'll measure them to see how they compare in size to J.Ames post. (And take a good shot of the runner. I had it backwards in my first attempt.)

Some links to help you identify parts of the lace.

Stitches:    photos



And thanks for the detail photos.  I can see the stitches better.

Another placemat and table runner set discovered! This one is at the Cleveland Museum of Art and I think it features the joys of country life. The Cleveland Museum is known for having an excellent lace collection and seems to be taking a renewed interest in it. A visit to their website will yield some new lace photos, as well as tantalizing unphotographed record entries. The series 2005.37.1 up to 2005.37.12 are the placemats. 2005.37.2 is the runner. If you display all the Textiles and Islamic, it is on the second page of images. According to the description the set was made in the 1930s. I wish there was more description of the subject matter. Instead there are some sentences that I find puzzling. "Lace is rarely made by hand anymore, a fact lamented in the medical field. Lace provides the ideal foundation for organs such as ears to regenerate; ears grow around the lace."  Any thoughts?

Interesting.  But one more example of a museum that just doesn't know how to photograph lace.  It drives me crazy.  All we can see is the design.  None of the structural details or working methods or stitches are discernable.  I did discover that the way to get a slightly larger image is to click on  ORDER A PHOTOGRAPH.  I've added links to the various kinds of lace photos to the ONLINE RESOURCES section of our HISTORY IDENTIFICATION group.

Devon, Thank you for pinpointing the locations of the placemats and runner.

Regarding the statement "Lace is rarely made by hand anymore, a fact lamented in the medical field. Lace provides the ideal foundation for organs such as ears to regenerate; ears grow around the lace."  --what? Where did they get that information? I would think a scaffold/mesh made from some type of hypoallergenic nano polymer would more than meet the tissue requirements to assist cell growth.

Having said that, some of my lace friends and I would be more than willing to cross and twist our way to assist medical science in making ears. A very noble cause indeed.

I agree-- broad photographs of lace are a tease. I want to see the details.

Like you say , takes my breath away, some of them have a three D effect, surely the lacers must be in there ninties as I couldn,t imagine getting this good until anyone has been lacing for 80 years.

Looks like abit of needle lace too.

On the ever fascinating topic of over the top table cloth sets with grandiose themes and their possible origins, I would like to share these images from an auction catalogue dating from 1926 of the collection of Senator William A. Clark, aka, the Copper King. The figures are subjects from paintings in the Louvre and Luxembourg Museums. The cloth was purchased from J. G. Camerino, and it says that J. G. Camerino has a copyright on the design dated 1915. 

so amazing lace patterns.could me know where i can get them.

i want use it into my wedding dress design and let my dress more unique,meaningful.


These are one-of-a-kind museum quality hand made laces. No pattern exists that anyone knows about.  Each mat took hundreds of hours to make.

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