Pictures of the Mansion

Introduction History

Hôtel Le Valois d'Escoville

Historical and present Seat of the Academy

All the history of the Academy is linked to this House of the Great Horse.

Origin - The Mansion was given the name of the founder, Nicolas Le Valois d'Escoville and also, for quite a long time and as late as the 19th century, that of " House of the Great Horse" 
The Mansion, seat of the Academy, was built by the Le Valois family, an old Lisieux family which played an important part in both Lisieux and Caen.
-Nicolas Le Valois, Esquire and Lord of Escoville was born in 1495 of Jean le Valois and Charlotte La Bigne and gave the family its reputation.
-Nicolas Le Valois had 4 or 5 sons (the sources differ)

  • - Louis, Viscount of Caen, belonged to the Lords of Fontaine-Etoupefour line.
  • - François to the Lords of Escoville line. -
  • Jean, Lord of Mesnil-Guillaume, was Gentleman of the King's Chamber and the Last of the Valois to own the mansion. He sold it in 1603 to a wealthy merchant from Rouen, Guillaume Moisant

Moreover,the Le Valois family was soon to die out.

Nicolas Le Valois is to be remembered for his unremitting dedication to work and also for spending his leisure time studying Philosophy and carrying out recondite research in Alchemy which certainly accounts for the carvings which it inspired.

Alas! Nicolas Le Valois d'Escoville was not to enjoy his new, splendid house for long ; as Monsieur de Bras states it:
On the Friday of the Epiphany (6th January 1541), Nicolas Le Valois, Lord of Escoville, Fontaine, Mesnil-Guillaume and Manneville, the wealthiest man in town, was sitting at table in the hall of his magnificent mansion near the St-Pierre crossroads, which had just been completed the year before; as he was eating an oyster from  the shell, suddenly choked and dropped dead from apoplexy. He was about 47 years of age."

The district of St-Pierre is worthy of our attention. Lying near the castle it boasted the dwellings of the most prosperous families in the town, of which there were many, and this location, at the heart of the city,mostly accounts for the origin and the destination of the Hôtel d'Escoville. First of all, it was the result of the wish of Nicolas Le Valois to purchase from Jean de la Bigne his dwelling so as to destroy it; then the subsequent use made of the new Mansion, which was to be the City Hall, the seat of the Academy and, later on, of the Commercial Court and Exchange, for the simple reason that the building was vast and opulent with a beautiful situation right in the centre of the town.


1- the roofs and lanterns
2-South-East corner; wing at right angle.
3-North-West corner; doorway to spiral staircase.
4-the most ornate pavilion with statues