As she adored animals (dogs, monkeys, cats and donkeys in particular), Princess de Broglie wanted them to be buried close to her Château when they died, and had a dog cemetery laid out for the purpose.
The site selected was that of the former village cemetery, which had existed since 1788. When they acquired the estate in 1875, the de Broglies negotiated the transfer of the municipal cemetery. The municipality agreed to this on condition that the Prince paid for a plot of land and construction of a new, considerably larger cemetery. The municipality also required that no changes be made to the old cemetery that might cause “the graves to disappear of their own accord” and that he should do no more than have concessions in perpetuity moved.
The new cemetery was laid out between 1881 and 1883, in which year it was inaugurated, before startup of work on the grounds. Exhumation of bodies was carried out in 1893, and Princess de Broglie put the site to use as an animal cemetery the same year.
The previously enclosed cemetery contained a score of graves, each with a flowerbox in front of it (eighteen in all have been inventoried). Divided up into three rows set in different parts of the copse, most of the graves still bear the epitaphs that Princess de Broglie had carved on them – heartfelt poems to the memory of her favourite pets.
The epitaphs are now almost indecipherable, but we know how they read thanks to transcriptions made by a visitor in the 1950s. We can imagine the Princess’ affection for these animals, continuing to devote all her care to their graves until the Great War years.
More generally, animal cemeteries were something of a tradition on 18th century English landscaped grounds, the most representative example in France being on Île de la Jatte in Asnières.