Escape to the Chateau is a Channel 4 documentary series which follows the story of couple Dick Strawbridge and Angel Adoree along with their family as they buy, renovate and redecorate the 19th-century Château de la Motte-Husson in Martigné-sur-Mayenne, France, and simultaneously juggle growing both their business and family. The first season follows Dick and Angel's quest to restore the chateau from its uninhabitable state by installing running water, heating and electricity throughout the 45-room castle, which had not been lived in for the past forty years. They are working against a deadline: their own wedding, which is to be held at the property. The subsequent seasons continue their story as they grow their events and wedding business and continue restoration, renovations and maintenance of the castle, and document the family events and milestones going on around them.
Formerly a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, Dick Strawbridge has appeared on numerous television shows such as It's Not Easy Being Green (2006), Coast (2006), Scrapheap Challenge (2009), The Hungry Sailors and Saturday Farm (2011), Dirty Rotten Survival (2015), and many others. However, his engineering and food experience is highlighted in Escape to the Chateau, with his can-do attitude and engineering expertise to the fore, as the work on the chateau and its close surrounding land continues through the seasons.
Angel Adoree, who runs a hospitality business called The Vintage Patisserie, for which she sought investment when she appeared on Dragon's Den in 2010, provides a creative factor and flair for the show, adding her style and interior decoration skill to the château as well as sharing in the interest in hospitality and entertaining to make their guests' memories their ones to last. Adoree was born as Angela Newman and grew up on Canvey Island, where her family runs a jewellers.
|Season||Number||Overall Number||Title||Description||Initial Air Date|
|1||1||1||Finding the Chateau||Dick and Angel find their castle. Looking through the large list of restorations needed, Dick begins with a heating system.||5 June 2016|
|1||2||2||Chickens, Heating and Blank Canvas||The deadline is approaching, and the budget is left with £20,000 to finish refurbishments.||12 June 2016|
|1||3||3||Pineapple Chandeliers and a Wedding||Dick and Angel are expected to marry in a few weeks at the chateau, but they still need to fix more rooms to house and cater to their 200 expected guests.||19 June 2016|
|2||1||4||Pig Roaster and Versailles Loo||The couple begins to grow their events business as the chateau. Dick prepares for their first paid event by making a DIY pig-roaster. Family life also expands with their three-year-old son Arthur’s first day at school. Angel creates a Versailles-inspired downstairs toilet.||27 November 2016|
|2||2||5||Fishing, Foraging and an Elevator||Dick and Angel want to enhance their money-making prospects with the possibility of fishing in the moat and installing a lift in the turret.||4 December 2016|
|2||3||6||Christmas at the Chateau||Christmas is coming. Angel prepares the Christmas festivities and Dick prepares the food, in time for the family coming from England.||11 December 2016|
|3||1||7||Only 20 Rooms to Go xxx||Angel and Dick keep working on the twenty rooms that still need fixing.||24 September 2017|
|3||2||8||Spring||Dick tries to tackle his walled garden. Angel creates a boudoir in the castle. Guests propose during a food event.||1 October 2017|
|3||3||9||The Wedding Season||The wedding season is approaching, so Dick needs to clean out and prepare the barn for the events.||8 October 2017|
|4||1||10||Weddings, Stables & Staircases||A busy summer with seven weddings and fourteen food lovers' weekends to prepare, as well as fixing the stables and gardens.||18 March 2018|
|4||2||11||Harvest and Birthday||Angel plans for a floating geodesic dome over the moat. They celebrate Dick’s birthday.||25 March 2018|
|4||3||12||A Floating Dome||Dick tackles the chateau's crumbling stucco while Angel finishes the geodesic dome over the moat. The family use it well with a sleepover under the stars.||1 April 2018|
|5||1||13||Glamping||Dick and Angel throw open the shutters of their French chateau for a new season, as they work to create a luxury glamping experience and contend with frequent rainshowers.||11 November 2018|
|5||2||14||In the Attic||Angel plans a stunning attic studio. She and Dorothy go on a mother-daughter trip to Paris and Dick's busy in the outbuildings. There's a surprise birthday event - with popcorn.||18 November 2018|
|5||3||15||Parkour & Turret||Angel creates a series of rooms in the chateau's pepper-pot turret. Dick opens up a parkour fitness trail in the grounds, but he hits an unexpected snag.||25 November 2018|
|5||4||16||Peak Summer||It's the height of summer and the heat is on for Dick and Angel, with the peak of the events season, wedding cakes melting, school holidays, a boating lake, and a leaky boat.||2 December 2018|
|5||5||17||Cafe Grandma||Before winter sets in, Dick ploughs the wildflower meadow and joins with Angel in bringing the dilapidated coach house back to life, in a bid to create 'Cafe Grandma'.||9 December 2018|
|5||6||18||Harvest Time||It's harvest time at the chateau. But there's still time for family wheelbarrow races, to give the basement a swish makeover, and to convert the old piggery into a chicken coop.||16 December 2018|
|5||7||19||... at Christmas||Dick and Angel are preparing for a magical Christmas at the chateau, with festive treats for family and friends, including Dick's walnut wine and a super-sized Christmas tree.||23 December 2018|
|6||1||20||Winter Returns||During the 'down' season it provides the time for Dick and Angel construct an events kitchen from utility area and some dumping areas in the basement. The challenge comes with inserting an enormous oven.||3 November 2019|
|6||2||21||A Boat in the Moat||Angel has bought a boat, a small canal boat, but is need of repair as it currently doesn't float. She also records some ancient wallpaper found under the stairs in the basement. Dick needs to finish the wild flower meadow.||10 November 2019|
|6||3||22||Weddings & Aviaries||A circus tent arrives although it is the wedding season. Dick and Angel now have two giant aviaries and a water lily pond.||17 November 2019|
|6||4||23||The Party of a Lifetime||In the heat of the French summer, if they didn't have enough to do, Dick and Angel are planning the party of a lifetime, with 100 guests to celebrate Angel's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. In the meantime Dick travels to Wales to collect a new vehicle.||24 November 2019|
|6||5||24||Camper Van||An end of summer event is due with a host of Citroen vans. Whilst Dick and Angel are preparing their latest acquisition - an ex-wedding bus.||1 December 2019|
|6||6||25||Autumn Renovation||At the chateau the old tack room is now to be turned in a grand entrance, demolishing walls and then laying a new floor.||8 December 2019|
|6||7||26||Riverboat||Dick and Angel embark on a new project, converting their newly acquired riverboat into guest accommodation.||15 December 2019|
|6||8||27||Escape to the Chateau at Christmas||Christmas comes again to the chateau with more Christmas crafts and fare; with family, friends and guests.||22 December 2019|
A second version of series 1 was shown on More 4. Episode 1 is called "Hole in the Wall" (26 June 2016). Episode 2 is called "They're our Flies" (3 July 2016). Episode 3 is called "Angel's Palace of Dreams" (10 July 2016).
More 4 has shown these additional episodes as "an extended four-part version of series one". These are "S1 Ep1/4 - Dick Strawbridge and Angel buy a fairy tale French chateau and set about bringing the abandoned building back to life", "S1 Ep2/4 - Dick, Angel and the family move into their crumbling chateau, which they find home to bats, birds and thousands of flies", "S1 Ep3/4 - Wanting to create a stunning honeymoon suite, Angel asks Dick to smash a hole in the three-feet-thick castle wall" and "S1 Ep3/3 [sic] - Dick and Angel are due to marry in just a few weeks, expecting 200 guests. But room after room still needs to be restored, decorated and furnished, and the moat needs damming."
An additional three episode series began showing on 26 November 2019. Episode 1 is called "Escape to the Chateau : Restoring the Dream". Episode 2 is called "Escape to the Chateau : Designing the Dream" (2 December 2019). Episode 3 is called "Escape to the Chateau : The Great Outdoors".
Background and production
Dick Strawbridge invited Channel 4 to join them documenting their journey in searching for a house. The couple had already spent four years searching for a home to bring up their two young children, Arthur and Dorothy. In contrast to many other home shows, the television coverage was never planned, but Channel 4 paid to document the journey which lifted some of the weight that such a large task would cost. This was in the form of the presenter's fee, in addition to the exposure from the show's advertising, which has allowed the business to uphold its popularity as a wedding and events venue.
The appeal of the show may be due to the affordability on face value and lack of demand for such French properties, which attracts many English home buyers. That was the same story with Dick and Angel, since when they first started house hunting in France, they were looking at more modest properties such as small farmhouses, until they realised that at such low prices, they could buy a castle. For £280,000, they purchased a chateau that lists forty-five rooms, a walled garden and surrounded by a moat on a twelve-acre property, ten times larger than the average British house. However, the show makes viewers aware of the large restoration and running costs of such projects, which can become costly for people trying to make a business out of these castles.
With policies on rehabilitating older houses introduced in the 1970s, the National Housing Agency (ANAH) was created to promote the improvement of older private dwellings, which can either improve or hinder the process. Another way to gather funds is through shareholdings schemes. This was seen in Escape to the Chateau: DIY with the couple renovating Chateau de Jalesnes, who used wealthy French nationals as shareholders. Another example was through a GoFundMe page that saved the 13th-century Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers by receiving €500,000, which now has thousands of shareholders invested in its restoration.
History of Château de la Motte-Husson
From the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, the site of the chateau was used as a fortified stronghold in the parish of La Motte. In 1406, the Husson family, seigneurs of Montgiroux, named the castle Château de la Motte-Husson.
The Baglion de la Dufferie family (a French branch of the Baglioni family) acquired the estate in 1600. After that, it was rebuilt within the square moat during the period from 1868 to 1874. The current façade is reflective of the efforts of Countess Louise-Dorothée Baglion de la Dufferie (1826–1902), who told her husband that she wanted a grand residence. The chateau served as a summer retreat for the family.
Escape to the Chateau DIY
Escape to the Chateau DIY follows Dick and Angel giving their tips to other British expats in France trying to run a business from chateaux in a similar condition to their own. It follows their renovations and possibilities for generating profit. The show has three series. The initial broadcast was on 9 April 2018, and the third series concluded on 15 November 2019.