Around 1800, the architectural scene in Vaud underwent a fundamental change. After the French invasion and their release from Bernese rule, the peasants demonstrated their new awareness of their status as free citizens by building large and imposing houses. They had been made wealthy by the prosperous state of field farming in the closing years of the 18th century.
The village of Villars-Bramard is located between Lucens and Romont, directly on the border with the Canton of Fribourg. Cereal growing was formerly the predominant form of agriculture on this plateau with a somewhat harsh climate. The farmer Jean-François Fattebert built a new house here in the years 1800 and 1801. This was to be roughly three times as large and much more finely furnished than its 17th century predecessor.
More than a dozen people must have worked simultaneously on the construction site, for not only the volume of the house but also the quality of the building material far exceed all the limits to which we are accustomed. The elaborate wood construction inside may have necessitated the felling of a substantial area of forest. The facade elements were hewn from shell limestone and sandstone using simple technical aids.
Despite its size, this house has a decidedly elegant appearance. The body of the building is characte-rised by its balanced proportions. The simple decorative elements also lend depth to the facade. The choice of materials and colours not only conforms to practical needs but also reflects a con-scious effort at architectural design. Nonetheless, this building remains fairly conventional in its structure and ground plan. Presumably many farmhouses in the Canton of Vaud have parts of the upper floor which were never furnished.
Today you can admire a magnificent cow-bell collection here. Additionally, a traditional goldsmith’s workroom is installed in the room behind the kitchen.
The facades give the appearance of a building containing more rooms than is, in fact, the case. In its interior, the farmhouse has few furnished rooms.
This magnificent house stood for two years without a roof before it was saved by the Museum with assistance from the Canton of Vaud. Two winters had left their mark upon it. The panelling in the parlours had suffered severely from the damp. Frost and moisture had a disastrous effect on the facade. Whereas the fossil limestone stood up quite well to the weather, the sandstone disintegrated completely. Even modern conserving agents could not save this sensitive building material. Most of the sandstone parts had to be replaced with components made by experts from the Berne Cathedral’s masonry workshop.
On the east gable end of the work area of the house from Villars-Bramard is built the horse-gin from Ecoteaux VD (No. 534). In the course of the 19th century, this type of engine for the threshing of grain became popular throughout the Midlands. The engine was turned by a horse (or an ox) pulling in a circle.
The structure of the grain storehouse from Ecoteaux VD (No. 532) is reminiscent of a piece of furniture. As a type of building it is characteristic of the adjoining cultural region to the north-east, while its stylistic idiom is already that of Savoy.