just a stone’s throw from the chateau
This old church, standing in the best of districts, is in the midst of the imperial town. The chateau is but 10 minutes away on foot and the SNCF train station, with 1-hour links to Paris, 15 minutes. The A1 motorway also makes it possible to reach the French capital in an hour, Lille takes 2 hours and Brussels 3 hours. Compiègne, with its royal, imperial chateau, is a dynamic, tourist town with a wide range of shops, restaurants, theatres and cinemas.
The English neogothic style can be immediately recognised courtesy of its squat nave and its slender, pointed bell-tower, worthy of the 14th century gothic spires. With the facade set back off of the avenue, it is the wrought iron fencing that first comes into view. It is topped with thistles, the floral emblem of Scotland. The architectural features to be found on this facade are characteristic of the 19th century British style: two lancet windows, topped with stone arcades, a trilobal oculus on the top of the gable wall, sculpted foliage ornamentation on the capitals and the bases, double oak wood doors in the shape of a gothic arch, with deep moulded surrounds, at the foot of the bell-tower.
Other decorative features enhance this edifice’s architecture:
An armoured knight topping the clock, flanked by two fantastic animals, is reminiscent of this style so characteristic of the period that is, somewhat ironically, qualified as the troubadour style. That is to say more from the medieval era than the Middle-Ages. The clock itself is French as is shown by “Vérité à Beauvais” (made by Mr Verité in Beauvais). It too denotes this slightly crazy 19th century when there was no hesitation in mixing gothic overtones with a state-of-the-art technique.
Above the door, under a trilobal stone cornice, an engraving in Latin “In te Domine Speravi” (In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust), the motto of the Lyon clan is a reminder that the edifice was constructed courtesy of its rich Scottish donor.
Features giving life to the building are everywhere: the year of its construction engraved on the side of the bell-tower in Roman numerals, a cross on the top of the gable wall, a small central rose and a stone spire dominating this district of Compiègne.
Although the nave is covered with a gable slate roof, the choir of the church has a lower roof so as to provide the altar with a more private atmosphere, as in an alcove. Its Latin cross layout delimits the building with a discreet transept. In the chevet, there is no apse as dictated by British tradition.
The church is entered via the porch in front of the double doors in the bell-tower, giving access to the nave via a passageway in a vestibule. The nave, enhanced with an ambulatory, is impressive, not because of its size but because of its exposed dark roofing framework in the shape of an inverted hull. These premises are welcoming, perhaps because of the divine presence, perhaps because of the choice of materials or perhaps a little of both. In any case, the parquet flooring, the panelling, the ivory-coloured stone, the large, original chandeliers and this wonderful wooden roofing framework, supported by impressive jambs, give them real beauty. And lastly, cheerful, colourful, stained-glass windows illuminate the nave, especially those in the choir showing Christ as a shepherd. These reflect the Art Deco style and, therefore, date from the 1927 restoration works, following the damage caused by the war.
Around the choir, in the wings of the transept, a chapel and a sacristy complete the nave.
The decoration further includes ogee windows, sculpted ornamentation, traces of its Anglo-Saxon origin: coats-of-arms of the crown, the rose (for England), the thistle (for Scotland), the daffodil (for Wales) and the shamrock (for Ireland). There are also many Christian symbols: ears of wheat and grapes, symbol of Christ, the stained-glass window showing Christ as a shepherd, the inverted hull roofing framework, symbol of the Church led by Christ towards his destiny and, finally, two paintings linked to the Ten Commandments.
And lastly, dating from 1927, the benches, some of which have a small hook for hanging a hat.
A little, outside, stone stairway provides access to the basement. It comprises a storage area and a boiler room. The architect also had the good idea of creating a crawlspace under the nave in 1867.
A contemporary house, spanning a floor surface area of 305 m², takes up the rear of the plot. It is currently used for meetings and events held by the Baptist community. All on a level, it has a square layout, with wide picture windows letting in copious amounts of light and is topped with a slate roof. It comprises an entrance hall, with access to bathroom and toilet facilities, a large room and two meeting rooms on the ground floor. The basement is composed of a central corridor leading to five rooms, used for miscellaneous purposes.
The church is surrounded by a town garden, with a lawn and a few shrubs.
Compiègne’s old Anglican church is currently waiting for a new life, not necessarily as a place of worship, but more certainly as a cultural centre. Its beauty and, above all, its reasonable size as well as its site in the town centre will guarantee the success of any artistic project. An artist could adopt the building at the end of the garden as a home and keep the church for working and exhibition purposes. The numerous possibilities as regards its use, such as an exhibition centre, a concert hall, an artist’s studio or a media library, could breathe new life into the nave, still filled with peaceful, inspirational light. This would then ensure that these premises remain in the heart of the inhabitants of Compiègne for a long time to come.
|Land registry surface area||1180 m2|
|Main building surface area||150 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||305 m2|
Jérôme Ferchaud +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.