The English translation of “Orne. Une famille anglaise achète un château abandonné pour le restaurer” from “Oest France” – March 14, 2021

We love a good back story on Chateau De Lalacelle, learning about Tracy, Tony, Terry and Ash’s history and what led up to purchasing the French Castle and moving from the UK, so for those of us who don’t speak French, here’s…

An English translation of this article by Anne-Emmanuelle LAMBERT, published March 14th, 2021 on Oest France

(Read the original Oest France article in French here)


Terry, Ash, Tracy and Tony in front of Chateau De LalacelleThis is the story of Tony and Tracy Briggs, their 35-year-old son Terry, his fiancé Ashley Waters, 36, and Jonathan, 7, Terry’s nephew, raised by his grandparents. A family from Middlesbrough, in the northeast of England, where they still lived last summer. Until a slightly mad dream led them to Lalacelle, near Alençon, in the Orne.

Five years ago, the Briggs clan decided to change their lives and buy a property to renovate where the whole family could live together. Preferably a castle. In France, of course.

“We came to France for the first time eight years ago,” says Ashley. “We all fell in love.” Since then, the family has spent all their holidays in France. Le Mans, Rennes, Saint-Malo… “We love the people, the way of life, the cuisine… Everything!”

After falling in love with France, the Briggs family fell in love with Château de Lalacelle.

The sale concluded in the fall

The family had given themselves ten years to change their lives. But the coronavirus accelerated things… “We suffered from not seeing each other as much as we wanted to.” The search intensifies.

In August 2020, Ashley found a castle for sale in Lalacelle, along the N12, about twenty kilometers from Alençon. After France, it was their second love.

Caravans at Chateau De lalacelleThe sale was completed in the fall. Immediately, Ashley and his father-in-law Tony installed three caravans next to the castle and set to work: cutting down some trees, pruning others, cutting the grass reaching everywhere two meters high… Tracy and her son Terry stayed in England to sell Terry and Ashley‘s pet store.

With all the branches that were cut down, the family has enough firewood for a few winters!

Chateau De Lalacelle: A castle at the price of a house

To buy the castle, priced at €300,000, Tony and Tracy sold their home, Terry and Ashley sold theirs. “My mother bought a small house with a tiny garden for the same price,” exclaims Ashley. “In England life is very expensive. A land of this size without a castle would cost four million pounds. A castle without land, ten million.”

It remains to be seen how much the work will cost. “€100,000? A million?” It’s hard to say, because the family plans to do the vast majority of the work themselves. “We are going to restore the castle to its original state,” says Terry. “We don’t want new, we want authentic.” The marble fireplaces, cement tiles, and beautiful wooden staircase will therefore have their place in this new start for a building left abandoned for forty years.

“We won’t be able to live in the castle for two years,” predicts Ashley, “but my in-laws’ house, set up in one of the outbuildings (the cottage), should be ready in a few months.” The other outbuildings will be transformed into guest houses, as well as the first floor of the castle.

On the nine hectares of land, the family plans to open a campsite, by the pond, raise animals and grow vegetables. “We are aiming for food autonomy.”

A life’s dream! “Terry always told me that if I bought him a castle, he would marry me,” Ashley smiles. The castle is done. Now it’s time for the wedding.

Reading this article takes us back to one of the first YouTube videos edited. Take a trip down memory lane to a time when many of us were introduced to the Chateau De Lalacelle near Alencon, France in Orne.