Les Travaux Ready for Take-Off at la Chapelle de Teysseroles

Drawing of chapel by James Burr

Drawing of chapel by James Burr

Thursday of last week was a big day at the 15th-century chapel we are helping to restore. A meeting we had been urging for some time finally took place, between our architect, M Salomon, and the architect from Bâtiments de France. BDF are in charge of historic monuments and we needed them to inspect the site and authorise the work we propose.

We have already raised about 15,000 euros and the Mayor of Parisot said recently that he would now start applying for grants and subsidies. We are hoping they will add up to 100,000 euros in the first tranche. Our team of volunteers has already done a lot but some of the restoration requires specialist skills. We also need a prioritised programme of work, which it is our architect’s job to draw up.

The BDF architect was late and we were concerned at first about a mix-up. He eventually turned up with his female sidekick, neither of them exactly kitted out for the freezing cold and muddy conditions. A bit surprising, since it’s their job.

Inspecting the remains of the de La Vallette chapel

Inspecting the remains of the de La Vallette chapel. Our architect holds yellow folder; BDF architect has shoulder bag

They inspected the chapel’s exterior. Fortunately, it was re-roofed about 20 years ago and is still in reasonable condition. Mr BDF seemed pleased with the removal of the rubble from what remained of the former de La Valette side chapel. He authorised us to continue and make good the sides to prevent earth sliding in.

The main concern there is that the wall blocking up the former arch leading from the church is in danger of collapsing in places. That’s one of the priorities, along with retracing the line of the original arch, both inside and out.

Archway into what remains of the former de La Vallette chapel

Archway into what remains of the former de La Vallette chapel

Next up is to pinion the buttress to the left-hand side of the main door. It’s not dangerous but some stones are crumbling at a strategic point and need replacing. He also said we should remove the earth banks on either side of the steps leading down to the main door. He praised the steps – all the SF’s work – which he said were in keeping with the spirit of a rustic chapel.

Steps down to the chapel entrance

Steps down to the chapel entrance

Unfortunately, a grave occupies one of the banks of earth, which we will need to move, after having sought the authorisation of the family concerned. The grave has a skull and crossbones from about 1870, which the family of a young man who died in World War I aged 20 covered with a movable stone carrying his epitaph. 

Skull and crossbones covered by a movable stone

Skull and crossbones covered by a movable stone

The BDF architect also approved the work we had done to lay a drain beside the south wall. The abundant rain from the roof penetrates the stonework inside at that point but it is already drying out thanks to the drain.

Inspecting the drainage works

Inspecting the drainage works

100,000 euros might sound a lot but it doesn’t go far towards restoring an historic monument. The BDF architect said we had a number of choices inside the chapel. We had already removed all the crumbling plaster from some of the stonework but not all of it is in good condition. Repointing it is beyond our means. Another option is to cover it with a sort of limewash that enables one to visualise the masonry underneath but doesn’t conceal it entirely. We also have to position and conceal cables for electricity – the cost of its installation alone is 14,000 euros.

Blocked-up archway into the former de La Vallette chapel

Blocked-up archway into the former de La Vallette chapel

The vaulted ceiling is also covered by thick plaster. It is probably brick underneath but the cost of exposing it would be prohibitive. Here, again, we have to compromise and simply fill in the cracks.

Part of the vaulting during our work to remove the plaster

Part of the vaulting during our work to remove the plaster

The vaulting divides the church into sections. He advised us to do them one by one, starting nearest the door, where the chapel most needs attention. ‘Cosmetic’ features like the broken stained glass windows will have to wait before we can contemplate repairing them.

Overall, it was a satisfactory morning. The two architects agreed a programme of work, the BDF architect was impressed with what we had already achieved and he listed several priorities that we can pursue ourselves. Going out to tender, getting the money, pushing the work along etc. will no doubt be fraught with red tape and frustration. But we had the feeling that things are moving.

Copyright © 2013 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

You might also like

Getting Plastered at Teysseroles
Teysseroles Restoration Update
How a French Fête is Run
French Cultural Heritage on our Doorstep

About these ads

About Vanessa Couchman

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
This entry was posted in French life, History, Places, Teysseroles chapel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Les Travaux Ready for Take-Off at la Chapelle de Teysseroles

  1. amelie88 says:

    Love your updates on your chapel project. It’s great to see that your hard work is paying off!

    • nessafrance says:

      We’ve got a long way to go and, with French red tape, it’s two steps forward and one step back. However, things are moving, even if it’s at a snail’s pace!

  2. You’ve got a real labour of love there! My middle daughter has been involved in the restoration of a ruined chateau for some time now and the wheels grind very slowly indeed. It”s immensely satisfying work though.

    • nessafrance says:

      We’re pleased with what we have already achieved but we can’t go much further without specialist help. As you say the wheels grind very slowly – it has taken some time just to set up the meeting between the two architects!

  3. Evelyn says:

    Really interesting post, Vanessa. It’s amazing all the things you have to consider and make decisions about!

    • nessafrance says:

      Thanks, Evelyn. In the end our decisions are constrained by the money available but at last we feel things are starting to move. We hope to have some more tangible evidence of progress for people who come to our fete next year.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s