In the luxury real estate sector, the terms manor and castle often rub shoulders with each other, without it being clear on what differentiates one from the other. In most people’s mind, the castle generally refers to the feudal castle, designed to defend the town and its population from its enemies, while the manor evokes a large country house, as there are many for example in the English countryside. Nevertheless, to understand the true subtleties of the two types of prestige properties, it is necessary to conduct a semantic search and therefore to be able to establish a clear distinction.
Differentiating a castle from a manor, a daunting task?
Semantics of the terms ‘manor’ and ‘castle’
Regarding the definition of castle, this same Larousse dictionary refers to it as a "seigniorial or royal residence" and a "fortified feudal residence". Here again, we can find the constituent elements of what a castle appears to be. Nevertheless, the semantics can be used more precisely to differentiate between these two types of houses.
Some architectural differences linked to history
The confusion today between the terms manor and castle is partially due to the disappearance of feudalism and the loss of the defensive use of castles over the centuries. Indeed, their architectural signature gradually faded and they lost what originally differentiated them from the manor. In fact, historically, the castle is a prestigious property of a feudal lord or king, from whom he has authority over his fiefdom. This is why castles are normally located in the heart of a city or town, so that they could accommodate the population in case of trouble.
From this point of view, the singularity of a castle lies in the fact that it has visible defensive elements: moats, walls, towers, ditches, amongst other key clues. Nevertheless, for those who know the real estate heritage well, the presence of these elements can not alone certify that the property is effectively a castle. Indeed, with the end of the feudal era, the castles have lost their use of defense, and their owners have sometimes extensively renovated them, to enjoy a better level of comfort. This could result in architectural upheavals, including the loss of these defensive elements mentioned above.
The mansion, a prestigious property without fortification
This partly explains the generally widespread image of the manor as a country house smaller than a castle. With the option of fortifying his home, the nobleman at the head of a manor could indeed rise against his lord, to whom he had to ask for protection in case of adverse circumstances. It is therefore understandable that today, in the real estate sector, the manor has kept this perception of a prestige property, elegant, rural and of significant proportions without being totally oversized.
Thus, if over the centuries the difference between the terms castle and manor have faded, a trip into our feudal history can draw the real semantic differences between the two words. The only certainty is that both refer to luxurious homes, which are very popular in the real estate market.
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