Onslow in Aulteribe castle: music, scandal in England, love in Clermont

The castleThe castle | ©Gibouille5 / CC-BY-SA

Squabbles, old stones... and music!

A good shelter!

Mentioned for the first time in 1261, the castle of Aulteribe didn’t change since its construction in the 14th c.: a quadrilateral surrounds by deep moats, flanks by powerful towers at corners…

A composer in Aulteribe

And yet, when the new owners, Joseph de Pierre de Bernis and Henriette Onslow moved in Aulteribe in 1833, they started brand new alterings of the old castle.

They entirely re-decorated interiors, adding a balcony on the façade and troubadour style furniture…

Henriette’s father, the English composer George Onslow, often came in Aulteribe: aaaaah, they liked to gather in the living-room to listen to his music…

Come on, now: let’s meet George Onslow!

Onslow: chamber music in Aulteribe

Scandal in England, love in Clermont

Edward Onslow, son of a respectable English lord, turned up in Auvergne one fine day of springtime in 1781.

Everything was brand new for him: new people, a new language, colourful and rustic landscapes… but he was happy.

In fact, he had just get kicked out from England and exiled in France. The case was a real big scandal! This son of a famous politician lived a life of degradation...

Edward was now in Auvergne, France, in Clermont-Ferrand.

And we don’t know why, but one day he entered in Clermont Ursulines convent in 1783: there, he fell in love with the nun Marie-Rosalie de Bourdeille, the grand-grand-niece of famous French Renaissance writer Brantôme!

Love at first sight, really… who cares about the religion? They loved one each other, and get married. Edward even changed religion (my gosh, he was a protestant Englishman).

They had a son, George Onslow: the famous chamber music composer!

The French Beethoven in his house

George was born in Clermont and lived in Auvergne where he composed the major part of his work. Including a famous Quintette number 15, written in Aulteribe after a hunting accident where he became deaf from one ear.

At that time, George was pretty famous (people nicknamed him the “French Beethoven”).

But nowadays, not a peep! He often came in Aulteribe to see his daughter Henriette and his son-in-law, to make concerts.

So his daughter was Henriette Onslow, a child he had with Delphine de Fontanges: this lady was an heir of the pretty duchess de Fontanges, Marie-Angélique de Scorailles, king of France Louis XIV’s mistress! Henriette married Joseph de Pierre de Bernis in 1833 and they moved in the castle.