The Collection
In July and August the museum is open every day of the week except on Monday, from 14-18 hours. The rest of the year by appointment. Tarif 7 euros par personne.

A great number of visitors, young or young at heart have already admired worlds largest collection on fencing and duelling. Engravings, statutes, paintings or drawings from famous, or less known artists, who followed man endlessly at fighting, duelling or fencing. Let us name some; Meissonier, Regamey, Stizoda, Schreibner, Daumier, Townsend, Rowlandson, Hogarth, Hokusai, Pieter Lastman etc.

Rapier and dagger, beginning 17th century

In every room of the museum we find different weapons: duellingswords, daggers, hunting knives, military sabres, courtswords, foils, the first electricals, rapiers and even free-masons swords, from all over the world.

The lord of the manor, Maître van Oeveren, ex-international and former national trainer of several countries, welcomes the visitors and guides them through the collection, telling them anecdotes of people like Clémenceau, Boulanger, Deferre, Churchill, Paton, Mussolini or Heydrich. They all had one thing in common; fencing!

Fascinating stories of famous worldchampions, who very often were his oponents, some left their weapons or jackets at the museum.

"I have collected anything on fencing"the maître explains " for exemple, I have, for children, figurines, comics, fairy fencing stories, Tom and Jerry, Goofy, Snoopey and all other cartoon celebrities fencing, duelling or other"

Going through the five expositionrooms, one finds "Women and Children in fencing", "political duels", "fencing in advertising", "fighting in the theatre or on the filmscreen"(Grace Kelly, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophie Marceau, Errol Flyn, Stewart Granger, Basil Ratbone, José Ferrer, James Mason, Antonio Banderas, Jean Marais, Gérard Philip), pamflets, brochures and books. Whatever book or film, from Dumas to Sabattini, Shakespear to Conrad, any cloak and dagger story is here to be found. In the library several hundred of books in a dozen different languages, from the 17th century up till our days.

Large collection of porcelain
Painted by Judy James after Pietro Fabris
... This museum is a must for anybody who has or had the slightest connection with fencing or wielding swords.Or for anybody who likes castles, arms or strong stories, it provides an unforgetable afternoon.

The Collector

Comming to the point...

The life of Rudi van Oeveren looks like a game of Monopoly. From Holland to Israël and England, training national teams, passing through Budapest, New York, Paris and Djakarta, this master of arms has drawn his sword everywhere. Always looking for new horizons, the fencing dutchman owned several true fencingrooms. The last privatly owned british fencingroom was established in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne at the Haymarket. Not far away from Shotleybridge, where in the eighteenth century blades were made... This traveling always served his fencing.

Sunbeam Talbot 1957. Winner of the Rallye de Monte Carlo.

"Observing different people, in different places, understanding their way of fencing. Show me how you fence and I tell you who you are .. , feeling a hand, a technique, a tactique, a sense of distance. One has to be artistic and shrewd at the same time."

"Since the egyptians 1190 B.C., from generation to generation, fencing has never left man. The French and Italians have been very talented for this sport. What they were for the point, the Hungarians were for the edge. The fencingmaster Roger Crosnier made me thinking of living in the Loire-Valley. This great theorist of fencing spent his last days at Chinon. He fenced a way that made you think twice, but it was impregnated with elegance and lightness."says the man who lives by the sword.

Fencing-bags and weaponcases were put down at the Château des Sablons in Bourgueil for 16 years. But this globe-trotter wanted to get closer to Paris and have a full-sized fencigroom. So after years of searching he found his last treasure in Meung-sur-Loire. A lovely manor with 11 ha of land with a modern (old-style) fencingroom.. Now sabres-rattle and epéeguards sing their carillon-song at the fencing-salle of Clos de Bel Air. People of all ages try their first steps, hesitating attacks becoming cunning offensive actions, secret strokes turning into common place behaviour.

On top of this, the castle houses the largest collection on fencing in the world. Some 600 engravings, prints and paintings on the subject. A special division dedicated to women, fencing or duelling or just showing of their pretty costumes and weapons....

"Never underestimate a woman with a sword in het hand", explains maître van Oeveren, pointing out an 18th century silk-woven image of women fencing foil with the fencingmaster at their side. "Women will always be dangerous and unpredictable(La donna e mobilé). Their advantage is their stong intuition, plus their long experience. And further more", he adds jokingly, " I have never heard of women playing soccer for more than 3 centuries".

Special thanks

I would like to thank the following British people for their support in establishing my museum and the gifts that are on show in my museum: Mrs. Rosalind Anderson. The B.A.F., British Academy of Fencing Masters. Mr. Stan Calvert, Head Physical Education Dept. University of Newcastle Upon Tyne. Mrs. Daphne Foster-Smith. Mrs Hilda Foster, Secretary Me. Van Oeveren School of Fencing. Dame Mary Glen-Haig, O.B.E. Mr. Robert (Bob) Kelly. The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Dr. Cyrill Lippman. Dr. Howard Raine. Mrs Julia Raine. Mr. John Stansfield, Secretary Me. Van Oeveren School of Fencing. Mr. Geoffrey Taylor, Head Physical Education Rutherford Technical College Newcastle Upon Tyne. Mr. John Torday, Chairman Me. Van Oeveren School of Fencing. Mr. Collin Towers, Head Physical Education Carlisle College.

My very special thanks go to : Mr and Mrs Ian and Marjory Swanson, and their daughter, Jane Swanson. Without their support and friendship, life would not have been the same.

I would like to thank the following Isreali people: Dr. Amnon Karmi. Mr. Eli Perl.

External information

There is a documentary on the duel by Michael Hoff Productions , made for Discovery Channel, in which the greatest experts on the subject . French, English,American, German and Dutch professors, doctors, curators, museum directors and fencingmasters give their views and opinions on the duel.

Many objects that one can see in this documentary are on permanent view in the museum Van Oeveren, plus the personal experience of this professor of fencing.

Book information

"Modern British Fencing 1964-1981" by Edmund Gray, published by the Amateur Fencing Association-The Thetford Press Ltd.

"The Complete Bibliography of the Art and Sport of Fencing"by the dutch canadian H.W. Pardoel, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada.

"Cours d'escrime" by Martine Faure(1997). Editions de Vecchi.

The fencingroom, fencinglessons and cottage for rent

The original Maître van Oeveren fencingschool, affiliated to a national federation dates from1967. The Dutch version till 1991 and from then on in France.

The enthousiasm from children as well as their parents, is no doubt due to the high level of teaching by the fully diplomed professor of fencing. The level of the pupils is constantly on the way up.In the Salle Van Oeveren, according to some people the most beautiful in the world, the trainings are firstly directed to a good physical condition. A serious warming up, in a sensibly warmed salle and on a save wooden floor, prevents injuries. Clear explications how to obtain a sound technique and transparent aproaches to one of the most important issues, the tactic.

Open all year around.

It is possible to have privat lessons by the hour or one-day session or more and also trainingsweeks can be organised.

Lessons can be given in french, english, german and dutch. Equipement available. Possibilty of renting an apartment in the château (see website of the gîtes).

Clic here to watch a fencinglesson in the fencingroom of Château de Bel Air

Fencingroom in château Clos de Bel Air

Fencing demonstration during "La Cape et d'Epée" in Richelieu, July 2002

Photo: F. Drulhon

Anna Van Oeveren (1988) épée champion of Indre et Loire 2002, on sabre et fleuret.. Edgar Van Oeveren 13 champ. départemental on 3 weapons, 3 fois . régional champion, in 2007 Edgar Van Oeveren (1991), Dutch nationalChampion 1999 et 2007. Scimitar(Eastern Sabre) 1976. Sporty Estate wagon 3Litres, V6. 200 km p/h.
Junior World Championships 2007 Belek-Turkey (17th place)
Fencingtraining 2010

1. Museum Van Oeveren, Clos de Bel Air

2. Sortie: Meung-sur-Loire

3. Super-U supermarket

4. Gendarmerie/police station

5 and 6. Open fileds

7. Railwaystation

8. TOTAL gas-station