Ardenne Abbey

History

During the 1789 Revolution, the religious community was expelled from Ardenne Abbey, the building’s original purpose was modified and the abbey was stripped of the furniture and works of art which had been collected since the reform of Brother John of the Cross. On 1st May 1791, the Abbey was sold to a Parisian, Jean Jacques David Chauffrey. The first demolitions—the dormitory and part of the cloister—were apparently made at that time. On 11th July 1795 (23 Messidor, Year III), part of the abbey’s furniture was scattered. Two days before (21 Messidor), Fulwar Skipwith, the Consul General of the United States in Paris, took over the Abbey. Skipwith probably acted as a straw buyer for William Russell, a British citizen living in the United States of America. As Russel wanted to live closer to England without moving there, he rectified his situation in 1789, soon before making Ardenne Abbey his main residence. Russel lived in Ardenne till 1814. During the first years of his long stay, he housed the Protestant community from Caen in the abbey church.

William Russel’s departure marked the beginning of the subdivision of Ardenne Abbey’s estate. If the first owners of Saint-Norbert gateway and the church on the one hand, and the old farm on the other hand, preserved the property relatively well, Casimir Lefrançois, who owned the cloister, the abbey abode and the “Flour House” (Farinier), only maintained the Flour House and one wing of the abbey abode, called the “Press House”. This massive destruction, which happened around 1820-1823, was the last. Three different farming businesses then took over the estate.

It was followed by a period of stability, barely disturbed by a few events: In the turn of the 20th century, the Flour House became a foods manufacturing company, and a few religious events took place, e.g. processions of Corpus Christi, initiated by one of the owners. However, a major event occurred in 1918: The main buildings of the Abbey—church, central pavilion of Saint-Norbert’s gatehouse, tithe barn and Bayeux gateway— were listed as Historic Places, after the Norman Society of Antique Dealers requested their registration two years earlier.

 

Vers 1813, l’abbaye d’Ardenne vue par l’Est, aquarelle de Thomas Russell, s.d., British Library, Russell Papers

Vers 1813, l’abbaye d’Ardenne vue par l’Est, aquarelle de Thomas Russell, s.d.,
British Library, Russell Papers

Vers 1890, la cour de ferme, la porte Saint-Norbert, photographies de Félix Martin-Sabon, s.d., Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine

Vers 1890, la cour de ferme, la porte Saint-Norbert, photographies de Félix Martin-Sabon, s.d.,
Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine