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I wonder if anyone can give me advice on what in the UK might be called treasure trove.


My wife and I bought an old Chateaux two years ago.  We only paid 150k for it and it really is a a wreck.  Over the two years we have been doing it up. 


Previous to us an English family had it, they had done the roof and made a few rooms habitable but run out of money, it realy was not liveable…..


Before them an old man lived in it…  He lived there alone with no power for the last 40 odd years.  It seems the family who used to be very rich lost all their cash which was invested in Russian Stock.  I believe the Russian revolution left many great French Families penniless…


When we moved in we did find lots of very interesting stock certificates and other stuff but nothing of values.


In th course of doing the place up we spoke to the Mayor who informed us that the house was once the finest in the regeon and the vineyards were well known.  All that alas is gone and all the land has been sold off.  He also told us that during the war the chateau was used as a police HQ (I think Police).  It can not have been Solfiers as it is in the Dordogne…. Just on the border with Gironde… Literally over the river…


Anyway.  We have just started in the basements.  We planned to break up the huge wine vats with pneumatic drills etc..  These as you may know are huge concrete vats (long before steel was used).. they are about 5m long, 4 m wide and 3m tall… Basically like little rooms.   On the face of each is a bolted door way just large enough for a man to squeeze in.  These were for cleaning out the vats.


In order to show my son what they looked like inside I managed to remove one door…  I had to cut the bolts off with a disc.


Inside we found row upon row of bottles…  I thought at first maybe someone had dumped them there but these all were stacked.  We also found literally thousands of documents.  They are in French and most are dated 1942 and 1943.  We have now prised off the doors to the other 3 bats and found the same;  Literally thousands of bottles of wine and box upon box of documents, ID papers and various other items…  Some of which clearly have been stashed for value.  (Obviously I can not go into detail).


The wine is of several types but we have over 600 bottles of Chateau Petrus Pomerol 1923.    We were drinking a bottle a night before it even occurred to me to check the value….  !!!  There are about 40 other makes of wine, all very highly prized there are about 40 bottles with George Washington’s name on them…. Though heaven knows why…..


I am terriffed to leave the place for 5 minutes.


Is this all my stuff mine or can the French take it off me.  I discovered from the Mayor that his Grandfather was Mayor of the town during the war and I do fear what all these documents might say….


Please can anyone with knowledge tell me if I can keep this stuff.




There were also some materials I could not identify, I have an idea what they are but am worried about moving them….




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That's absolutely fascinating.

There was a story recently of a house that had been bought here, where it was later found that a barn (that hadn't been inspected before the purchase) had dozens and dozens of what are now classic/vintage cars.

The last I heard was that they were off to auction (lucky purchaser!).

However, while I may think all this stuff is yours to do with as you wish, I doubt it's a simple as that in this instance. You better wait for someone who knows the law to come along.[:$]

The documents sound intriguing, to say the least. Could you keep us informed about what transpires, please?

What was the wine like? How does 50Es a bottle sound? You've got plenty, after all.[:-))][6]

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Wow, wow and wow [:-))]

What a story!  I've no idea if the wine is yours, but I hope you get to keep it.  The documents though, especially if they relate to the war, could be of real historical interest.  Even if legally you are allowed to keep them, morally (I feel) you should allow a historical society to examine them, as resistance activity, and retributions were rife in the area.  Jews fleeing Paris were taken in and sheltered in the area as well. Any ID papers that you find might throw light on things that have remained unresolved for over half a century.

I know of other châteaux in the Dordogne were used as hiding places for documents and valuables during the war.  It might be worth contacting the resistance history museum in Cahors perhaps?


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Drat! The car filled barn was in Portugal - and it now seems less clear what the outcome was. Sorry about that. http://http://www.sportscarmarket.com/articles/archives/1110

I agree with what Cat says about the documents, gdo knows what's going to get stirred up by them but they should certainly be examined by people who understand their importance (or otherwise).

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I hope you enjoyed the wine, I really do and I hope they are exactly as you have described..

Now sit down. I cannot be sure what you would get but look at this. It says they are selling at........

No, you have look yourself, hope you saved some, it may well pay for the whole Chateau to be done up and a nce holiday !!


Can't get it to work, so cut and paste.

Gastines obviously knows the price [:D]

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I can't help at all with the law of Treasure Trove. I even rang the editor of the UK's Current Archaeology on the off chance that he might know, but he doesn't.

As a keen amateur historian though I'd appeal to you to tell the Museum at Periguex about your find. Please don't let anyone take anything away without a proper receipt and if at all possible, take photographs.

I think it would be better not to contact anyone too local, the mayor for example, because some of the memories are still rather raw.

I'm sure we will all be waiting with bated breath to hear the outcome of this story. Do I sense an article in Living France coming on ?

I can't remember when I last envied anyone; now I'm having to restrain muyself from hurtling down there to have a look.

Good luck with it.


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[quote user="newtofrance"]

 There were also some materials I could not identify, I have an idea what they are but am worried about moving them….


Sorry, just seen this. Do you mean they might be dangerous materials? Or perhaps fragile?

This is my favourite first post ever! It's just brilliant[:)]

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What a find.

It is my understanding too that once the deal is done what's there is yours. Would anybody say anything if it were undrinkable vinegar, I doubt it. The principle rmains the same, only the value differs.

If it were me I think some of the wine might "disappear" though before I publicised the discovery but not the documents, they really could be of significamt historic value.

HERE is a working link to shawny's site.

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Blimey.  The paperwork may also refer to the wine, provenence is as important to chateau bottled wines as it is to antiques.  Should it turn out to be yours then make sure you get a valuer who knows his vin to check the paperwork - because with proper documentation it is worth a good deal more. 

Oh, and don't forget to drink some of it.  There is nothing like a truly great bottle of wine, although as it probably hasn't been turned for months, if not years, it may not be as great as it once was.  Be sure to start turning it now, whatever you do.  I reckon a quarter turn a month would suffice.

(I worked in the wine trade for a while, in case you wondered.)  I am green with envy.[:P]

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[quote user="ErnieY"]

Would anybody say anything if it were undrinkable vinegar, I doubt it. The principle rmains the same, only the value differs.


Even undrinkable wine can fetch thousands, because experts want to taste them to see how they've developed. The bottles of wine should be left where they are, untouched, and the OP should contact Christies or an auction house of their stature. They will be there like a shot, analyse the wine and catalogue it.

The more meddling around with them that's done, the more doubt may be cast on the provenance, and this can affect the price achieved at auction. I follow wine auctions and this is an extremely unusal find.

Mr Tresco.

(See, he does exist, this brought him out of the woodwork).

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Greetings...I am Dr Englebert NewtoFrance and I am a high official in the Dordogne Chateau Owners Club

I have had the good fortune to inherit $36,000,000 (thirtysixmilliondollars) worth of fine wine which I need to move in order to avoid seizure as treasure trove.  I have heard that you are trustworthy person, so I want to offer you 25% if you will give me £10,000 to cover travel expenses, plus your bank account details and PIN number....


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