I’ve written several times about the 15th-century church at Teysseroles that we are helping to restore. It was once a parish church and our house falls within its catchment area (if that’s the right expression). Having been glued to my computer rather a lot recently, I decided it was time for some physical effort. So we went along last Friday afternoon to one of our regular work days at the site.
L’association pour la sauvegarde du site de Teysseroles (Association for thePreservation of the Site of Teysseroles) was set up a couple of years ago by a group of local people. The church itself – known as the Chapel of Notre-Dame – has not been in use for years. It’s damp and possibly unsafe and requires a lot of work to restore it. The stained glass windows are broken, plaster is crumbling and there are one or two ominous-looking cracks down the walls.
The cemetery, however, is still in use and the evidence of Toussaint (All Saints’ Day) was still there last Friday. The graves were dotted with pots of chrysanthemum plants, which families had placed there in remembrance. Unfortunately, some of the graves themselves are monstrosities – mausoleums made of polished stone and quite out of keeping with the rural setting. When the architect from Bâtiments de France – which oversees historic monuments – came to inspect the site last year, he was less than complimentary about them.
The present church was built ca.1490 on top of the previous one, which we know existed in 961 AD. No plan exists of the all the graves’ locations but once we have done the work, we hope the cemetery will be a suitable resting place for all the long-dead folk buried there – and, of course, those to come. Let’s move on…
We have focused most of our efforts so far on tidying the cemetery, which was a real mess, and rebuilding the stone walls surrounding it. However, we have now engaged an architect to oversee the church restoration work and he is coming this week to carry out an initial survey. This is a relief to us. We have been taking our members’ subscriptions and making money at our fêtes for two years now, so we feel we need to show some tangible progress.
Last Friday’s tasks included cutting down a tree that was growing into the cemetery wall, continuing to rebuild the wall itself and making a massive bonfire. This is an international team effort. Most of the group are French but there’s a sprinkling of Brits and a Swede (the SF). A nice atmosphere reigns and a lot of bantering goes on. It’s all slightly disorganised but somehow the work gets done.
In between times, I took some photos, including this one of the autumn view in the light of the encroaching evening.
We have already fixed the date of next year’s fête – Sunday 23rd June. It will follow the standard pattern: a mass – which the SF and I had to sit through this year as we had been dragooned into singing in it; not being religious in any sense this was hard work – followed by a sit-down lunch for 200+ people and musical entertainment, games, tombola etc. People are booking their places already!
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