Club meeting at Ashmores

Thu, Nov 11th 2021 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Clive Rees - Don’t take your dynamite to Rhedae!

Club members please log in for more information.

11th November 2021 Don’t take dynamite to Rhedae! – Clive Rees


Clive started with a thought on conspiracy theory: Imagine a barn door, an arrow suddenly sticks in this door, then someone paints a target around the arrow at the centre!  His slide presentation started with a beautiful picture of Carcassonne, which is very similar to what Rhedae looked like originally and it is said that when the Visigoths sacked Rome they returned to Rhedae to hide their plunder and gold. This led to the place being demolished (probably in search of the treasure?) and it was renamed as Rennes Le Chateau, a town of 30 000 originally about 20 mile south of Carcassonne, 4Km south of Couiza.

There then came the priest called Berenger Sauniere who spent millions of Francs restoring the village….but no one knew where he got the money from?!

The next slide showed a notice as you enter the village today, basically saying: no excavation in this area by Law! Then a picture os Berenger and his ‘house maid/servant’ who both worked tirelessly renovating the church of St. Mary Magdalene, installing a new floor, stained glass windows and several statues by commissioned prestigious Sculptor and painter Giscard of Toulouse. Saunière built a grand estate between the years 1898-1905 that also involved buying several plots of land. This included the Renaissance-style Villa Bethania, the Tour Magdala (a Tower that he used as his personal library) connected to an orangery by a belvedere with rooms underneath, a garden with a pool and a cage for monkeys – all in the name of his maidservant, Marie Dénarnaud.

For preaching anti-republican sermons from his pulpit during the elections of October 1885, Saunière was suspended by the French Minister of Religion, so he resumed lessons in the seminary of Narbonne. On returning to the village, further work and excavations took place and centered on parchments he is said to have found hidden in the old altar of his church, relating to the treasure of Blanche of Castile, the putative source of his income. He took the parchments to Paris for translation & continued digging down 3 metres in the graveyard (at night!) and also found some steps around the pulpit leading to a crypt, where apparently he found a casket of gold coins.  The villages objected to this continued excavations and locked him out with a steel door topped with a 22 toothed skull and crossbones (apparently a theme emerged with ‘22’ & ‘17’as repeated numbers, as in the 22 castellation’s on the Magdala Tower)

Dan Brown got his inspiration for the Da Vinci Code from all the mysteries surrounding this village and character (Blue apples that appear at the church on the 17th January each year.) The Monsignor from Carcassonne was his protector and when he passed on, his replacement starting asking questions and when Berenger finally passed on he was refused a reading of the last rites. No one really knows from where he got his money, theories are: 1. Hush money from the Vatican 2. Visigoth treasure 3. Knights Templar…..the mystery remains, attracting thousands of tourists each year.

This was followed by a vote of thanks from Alan F. thanking Clive for his fascinating story, delivered in his inimitable, and entertaining style and members joined with a show of their appreciation.                   AR

'What We Do' Main Pages:

It's here that you can read what we've been up to in the last few months. For more information on our work in the local community, with our young people and internationally please access "what we do" section of this web site.


And then there were two....


We have now successfully run this event for 10 years. Full reports of each year are available under this main page


If you like what we do as an organisation and are interested in volunteering with us, keeping up to date with our plans and future events then why not consider signing up as a friend of our Rotary Club


This is a monthly meeting open to visitors from Bingham, Radcliffe, Cotgrave and all villages in surrounding area.


This committee are involved in planning now we can raise funds for our chosen charities


Chris Netherwood is the chair of this committee


Our International Committee is involved with Polio Plus - a Rotary initiative to eradicate Polio, World-wide; Sand dams; Aqua Boxes; Shelter Boxes; Collecting used spectacles, and many other projects


Here you can read about the many meetings we've had during our formation as a Rotary Club. The early years are a little short on detail...