Whether viewed from below or from the village, the progress of the construction site is not obvious; And yet, this five-century-old building has been restored to its former glory; Let’s take a step back and look at all the work that’s been done;
At the end of the 18th century, the steeple lost its spire, and nothing serious has been done to replace it since; The top floor of the bell tower, the famous bell chamber, had been open to the sky for several decades: a real roof was missing; Water seeped between the stones and through the structure, running down the interior walls; These conditions favored the proliferation of wild vegetation; Getting the boat out of the water had become an emergency!
In the spring, the stonemasons took over the top of the steeple: the base plates; Visible from afar, they resemble columns or battlements; Left untouched when the project was interrupted around 1550, they represent the start of a second series of windows, never completed; Each of them was protected by a lead cover artfully crafted by tinsmiths: cut, fitted and soldered on site;
In June, a central roof was built over the bell chamber, concealed between the first-floor bays and the basements, so that the steeple’s external appearance remained unchanged; After a long period of preparation in the workshop, the carpenters laid the roof; Delivered in parts, the framework was erected in just a few hours: the beams, measured to the millimetre, fitted together perfectly; Since then, the tinsmiths have clad the whole unit in tin-plated copper; To crown this work of art, a relic of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (patron saint of our parish) has been placed on the summit, which now watches over the abbey and the village;
The spiral staircase leading to the bell chamber is also covered by a small lead roof, which the carpenters had to redo beforehand; Being the highest part of the bell tower and of the village, we installed a lightning conductor;
Finally, in the belfry, the mullions (central columns) of the windows have been restored; Only the base remained; Their installation has enabled the recent installation of the sound absorbers, thus completing the bell tower’s complete dewatering;
When work resumes, the remaining task will be to complete the rainwater conveyance system, in particular by installing the gargoyles currently under construction; Since March 2019, the stonemasons have been working on rebuilding the buttresses and all the brace heads; To be seen in a future article…