La Vieillardière Museum of Rural Life and Fire
According to historical records, La Vieillardière was a fief of Fontmaure Priory in 1235, of Puygareau in 1479 and of La Cure de Mondion in 1689.
It was once a fully self-sufficient farm typical of the region designed for mixed farming and livestock rearing that was exploited by a succession of owners and farmers before being abandoned in the 1940s.
It was purchased by the local authority in 1990, which gave it over to the Espérance association to turn it into a museum of country life, and later a museum of fire too.
The site consists of an vast rectangular farmyard surrounded by residential and farm buildings. The barn is now an events hall with a stage and tiered seating. The stables and sheds have been turned into traditional rural craftsmen’s workshops: a blacksmith’s, cartwright’s, saddler’s, cooper’s and clog-maker’s. Audio-visual presentations show how a cartwheel is made and how a horse is shod.
One building has been turned into a working museum of animal-drawn and hay-making and harvesting machinery; another illustrates the history of the plough. The museum also features a stable, hen house, wash house, dairy, bakehouse, press-house and oil press.
The large hayloft is home to the Museum of Fire dedicated to the history of the fire brigade. This is the work of Monsieur Claude Sapin, a collector from Châtellerault. The museum also contains an impressive collection of objects presented in showcases and is the only one of its kind in the region.
During the Heritage Open Days and on other occasions various events are organised, such as tart and bread-baking, making butter in a churn and making walnut oil. Music and theatre events are also held several times a year.