A 19th-century British industrialist built this Louis XIII–inspired chateau for his homesick French wife.
In the countryside to the south of Birmingham, England, this beautiful (if somewhat out of place) building is currently used as a hotel and exhibition space. Chateau Impney was built in the late 19th century by John Corbett, a man known as the “salt king” because of the major role he played in the British salt industry.
Corbett built the house in the style of a Louis XIII chateau in an attempt to please his Parisian wife Hannah Eliza O’Meara, who was homesick for her native France. The chateau was designed by the architect Auguste Tronquois, and stands on 110 acres of magnificent parkland. However it seems that the lady was not assuaged by the gesture. Despite the massive amount of money spent on the house—equivalent to more than £16 million today—Corbett’s wife remained unhappy and moved to one of Corbett’s properties in North Wales.
After Corbett died in 1901, the estate went to his brother, then passed hands several times. It lay vacant for a number of years after World War I, then was sold and turned into a hotel in 1925. Except for a period during World War II when it was requisitioned for military use, Chateau Impney has been hosting guests ever since. The building and grounds have undergone massive renovations and modernization projects in the intervening years.
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