Friday, 14 June 2019

Repairing the Roof of Saint Ours, Loches

The Romanesque Church of Saint Ours, on the Royal Citadel in Loches, has a very unusual roof, in the form of two octagonal pyramids known as dubes. Made entirely of cut stone, they are unique in France. Unfortunately they seem to have been a bit experimental, and have clearly always leaked. Even after repairs in 1850 they have continued to let water in. Later, during the 20th century, there were several attempts to seal them, all to no avail.

Today they form a damp halo over the building (the last thing you want in any building, let alone a historic one!). Green and brown algae is thriving and very visible. The stone is crumbling inside and out, leaving deposits in the nave and blocking the gutters.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
View of Saint Ours from the Louis XI tower.

Now, as part of a global restoration of the church which will include the stained glass, organ, belltowers and wall paintings as well as all the structural elements, the local authority is determined to find a permanent solution (which will also meet the International Convention on Conservation of Historic Monuments requirement that any intervention will be reversible).

The plan is to cover the bases of the dubes with lead sheeting. The lead will be shaped to fit all the contours of the stone, including the joints, and will reach up to the top of the buttresses. The lead will then be treated with an acid to age it and make it almost the colour of the stone. At the same time any masonry requiring repair will be dealt with, and the guttering and downpipes on the north side reviewed.

Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
The first of the dubes under scaffolding and being inspected.

The total cost of repairing the dubes inside and out is estimated to be €556 000.

Previous conservation work undertaken as part of this project includes:

Drying Out the Narthex

La Dame de Beauté Gets a Facelift

The church is also an important swift nesting site, so we will be trying to ensure the work is done in as swift friendly way as possible. 

Donations to support the project can be made via the Fondation du Patrimoine.


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Katie Zeller said...

Fascinating that they were able to devise a solution.... I hope it works. Loches is such an interesting ville, but it's been years since we visited.

Unknown said...

We must ensure that the architects & artisans involved really are aware of the swift nest sites !

Susan said...

It has been enormously challenging to come up with a solution to a centuries old problem.

Susan said...

As far as I have observed the swifts don't nest in the dubes. They nest in the towers and apse. But I will be sending a letter to the mayor this week to make sure he is reminded of his responsibilities.

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