The House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’, a half-timbered town house, is situated in the heart of the old town of Morlaix, in the Rue du Mur, formerly the Rue des Nobles. It was listed as a historical monument as early as 1883. The decorative style and historical context suggest that its construction dates back to 1520-1530.
This aristocratic residence is a particularly well-preserved example of what is known as a lantern house, the emblematic architectural principle of the town during the Renaissance: an interior covered courtyard constitutes a well of light in the heart of the building, with a spiral staircase made entirely of oak, and galleries to enable, on the three floors, communication between the front and rear rooms.
The intricacy of the interior decoration is suggested on the outside of the building by the ornate quality of the corbelled façade. The interior courtyard is the best example of such intricacy: its ornately sculpted staircase (featuring holy figures, savages, foliage, etc.) rises opposite a fireplace worthy of a castle, which adds to the monumentality of the décor. This opulence, exhibited in the ornamentation of the façade as well as in that of the interior courtyard, enabled the person who commissioned the house to assert his status. The Gothic and Renaissance styles are surprisingly effortlessly combined.
The principle upon which the house was constructed became considerably fashionable: the majority of residences built in Morlaix in the XVI century, be they town houses or shops, adopted this plan. The only slight differences involved lavishness and size.
The House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’ bears witness to an era of prosperity: that of Morlaix in the XVI century, at a time during which the thriving trade in which its ports were involved made Brittany a leading maritime economic power.