Friday, 13 December 2019

Every Little Bit Will Help

The next stage of fundraising for more conservation restoration on the Chapelle de Tous les Saints in Preuilly sur Claise has opened on the Fondation du Patrimoine website. We want to embark on the most exciting part of the restoration, that of conserving the rare wall paintings that decorate the interior.

Donations from individual benefactors are important because grants from heritage charities and agencies are often calculated to match the amount.

The work on this second stage has been estimated to cost 160 670 €.

We need to collect a minimum of €8,034 to be eligible for a grant. And beyond that, any euro collected will bring additional support.

The Chapelle de Tous les Saints, Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The Chapelle de Tous-les-Saints is located in Preuilly-sur-Claise in the south of Touraine. The village, which now has a population of 1,000, was once the seat of the first barony of Touraine. This explains its rich heritage of ten monuments protected by the Historic Monuments around its beautiful 12th century abbey church.

The chapel has been on the list of Heritage Monuments since May 13, 1953. This modest sanctuary, dating from the late 15th century, stands to the north of a garden that was once enclosed by the old cemetery on the plan of a perfect rectangle, its walls were built in tuffeau masonry with lime mortar and supported at the corners by four buttresses. The openings illuminate the north, south and east (and it is this Flamboyant style eastern window which allows the whole construction to be dated). To the west you enter through a moulded porch with a broken arch, another door was opened in the 17th century to the south. The building is roofed in tiles and surmounted by a bell tower covered with slates.

Part of a rare danse macabre wall painting showing women, Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Time and the ravages of history have done their work: the religious wars, the Revolution, a brutal restoration in the 19th century, abandonment, and vandalism to the point of losing its facade in the 1950s and almost being left to the wrecking bars of the demolition workers.

The state of disrepair of the chapel had become such that the municipality and the Archaeological Society of Preuilly took the decision to commission a stage of work to save the building housing a remarkable wall painting depicting a danse macabre. The Foundation opened a subscription, the population responded as well as several associative patrons. Thus in 2017/2018, the building was tied with reinforcing rods, its structure and roofing restored, the cracks filled and the vault of painted panelling conserved. It was a success and created an awareness amongst all of us of the interest of this chapel.

Wall paintings conservators working on the vaulted ceiling of a medieval chapel, Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

This first phase showed that it was a totally homogeneous work of art, from the building to the painted decorations of the vault and walls. Now it is the turn of the rare wall paintings, held like a jewel in a newly restored case. The fragile paintings themselves and the interior (plasters, floors, carpentry, dismantled altar, missing stained glass windows) remain to be restored.

This chapel will be open to visitors, but will also host exhibitions or small cultural events organized by the nearby library.


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