Almost by chance, I came upon the Wikipedia page of the Château de Barbezieux, in the Charente department. The current castle was built on the site of an earlier motte and bailey style castle which was partly destroyed during the Hundred Years War. According to Wikipedia, it was rebuilt at least partly in order to provide work during a time of famine. There are photographs on Wikimedia.
There is a tendency, I suspect, to associate work relief with the modern welfare state. However, various forms of relief have been going on since time immemorial.