What proof do we have that Hergé used Cheverny, any documentation on this or is it speculation.
It seems to be fairly conclusive; the archive contains Hergé’s copy of the brochure for Cheverny, which has as its cover a photograph of a very familiar view of the garden and château, bearing pencil sketches of Tintin and the Captain walking up the path towards it. You can find it on page 106 of Michael Farr’s Complete Companion
. The roofline at Cheverny is obviously closer to that of Marlinspike.
As it appears in this book opposite the frame of Captain Hadddock being hit on the head by the ship’s wheel chandelier, and the postcard which provided the source image he used for the fixture, it reminds me that at this time at least, Hergé was often working just a short period ahead of publication.
As Mr. Farr notes, the postcard is actually dated after the story had had begun to appear, so Hergé collected reference material as he went along. Who knows if, in looking for a picture of RiveSarthe he couldn’t find one, but could put his hands on the picture of its model?
Or maybe, having trimmed the wings off, someone went, “Hey! That looks like the château at RiveSarthe!”, and told him the other things.
However, the RiveSarthe connections may be nothing more than coincidence: it isn’t necessary for Hergé to have used anything more than the brochure picture and his imagination.
It also becomes a bit of a circular argument: I can’t really play the “oh, Hergé was pressed for time and made things up as he went, and needed a picture and couldn’t find one” card, if he was also
cool and collected enough to have established the link between Malicorne and the Licorne
prior to ever starting the story (it’s in the story title after all…).
Then again, Michael Farr also talks on the same page as the Cheverny picture about Sart-Moulin being a town - but if so, I ask, where is it? Using Google Maps I’ve not found anything like a town in Belgium by that name, and what there are couldn’t even really be said to be villages. I can find listings for various windmills (moulin) near places called Sart, and references to a spot in the middle of what appears to be a lorry park in a complex next to a quarry
, but no specific place which is conclusively the elusive Sart-Moulin.
Perhaps one day information will come to light which will settle it.A further thought:
I realize that I should state that I'm in no way an expert on French/ Belgian château; it is entirely possible that there are a fleet of similar country houses out there, all of which bear some sort of similarity to Marlinspike. For example, the Château de Villette, at Condecourt, Val d'Oise, north-west of Paris is the stand in used in The Golden Fleece
, and it too manages to convey the air of Marlinspike really well (albeit that it has a substantial gate-house and a range of out-buildings to either side of the main building at the front which Marlinspike never had in the books). As a complete aside, the Château de Villette has more recently gained prominance as a location in both the book and the film of The DaVinci Code