Will the Organ in the Church of Saint Jacques also Be Destroyed ?

10/2/13 - Heritage - Abbeville, Church of Saint Jacques - The arguments in favor of the destruction of the church of Saint Jacques in Abbeville in no way exonerate the mayor’s irresponsible lack of action over the years when he could have in fact avoided this tragic resolution. In our article of 18 May 2010 we demonstrated that saving this beautiful monument would have cost, if spread out over four years, 50€ a year per resident. The figure would have been 25€ if carried out over eight years, without even taking into account possible subsidies, and therefore a much lower cost than the amount announced by city hall [1].
No matter what the mayor, Nicolas Dumont, may claim he had everything in his power to restore the church without endangering municipal finances nor making steep increases in local taxes. This was a deliberate choice on his part which he cannot brush off on anyone else.

1. Organ in the Church of Saint-Jacques in Abbeville
Photo : D. R.

2. Nave of the Church of Saint-Jacques in Abbeville
Old Postcard
the Stained-Glass Windows Were Apparently Destroyed
During One of the World Wars and Replaced by Others
On the Left, the Pulpit is Still Standing in the Church
and Will Probably be Destroyed
The Crucified Christ Seems to Have Been
Removed and Deposited at the Museum
Photo : D.R.

But the demolition, which has, alas, already started (and will continue as of tomorrow, Monday), may also take the organ and its Neo-Gothic case (ill. 1), along with it. Indeed, this is an imposing instrument, built by the Caillé-Coll company under the supervision of Charles Mutin, the famous organ builder who succeeded Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
We have received calls asking for help from all over. According to Le Courrier Picard, "the furnishings [including the organ] will be preserved insofar as possible", which does not bide well. We are amazed by the incompetence of this city which has allowed a building like this one to deteriorate to the point that the only possible solution is its demolition and which does not even take the initiative (it has had four years to do so) to move the valuable furnishings inside for safekeeping (except for a few sculptures now residing in storage at the museum).
A comment on an article published in Le Journal d’Abbeville, from an organ builder in the Tours region (who has offered his help in taking it down), explains what we can all easily imagine : that there are many churches in France which would be happy to receive such an instrument, thus saving it from destruction and restoring its use.

3. Interior of the Church of Saint-Jacques in Abbeville
A View Taken From the France 3 Picardie
Television News Report on 19/3/10
The Organ Can Be Seen "Protected" by the Green Tarp
On the Right, Down the Side, Some Stained-Glass Windows

4. A View of the Choir in the Abbeville Church
Before it was Demolished,
Taken from a News Report on TF1 Television
The Stained-Glass Windows have Already Disappeared
The Chandeliers will Probably Follow

Will the Neo-Gothic pulpit (ill. 2 and 3) also be condemned ? This is indeed likely, as no one seems to show any concern given that it is not protected as a historical monument. As for the sculptures on the back of the façade, under the organ, as well as the stained-glass windows (ill. 3) which have already partly disappeared (ill. 4), apparently they leave everyone totally indifferent. What a shame !

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 12 février 2013


[1] The mayor’s offices always claimed that the restoration would cost 10 million euros, a figure repeated in all of the reports on TF1 television, but totally contradicted by the report submitted by the chief architect for historical monuments, Vincent Prunelle, who estimated it at less than half. Furthermore, the mayor intimated that this would result in a 25% increase in taxes, as if the budget had to be found in only one year...

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