The Saint-Nicolas Church of Meaux!

Well well, here I am updating older posts and found another dandy again from my dear city of Meaux which had not written on in my blog!! So much fun updating and the thrill of finding wonderful monuments that need to be shown in my blog. Hope you are all enjoying these posts as much as I. Let me tell you about a nice gem the Saint-Nicolas Church of Meaux!

The Saint-Nicolas Church is at 11 rue de Faubourg-Saint-Nicolas in Meaux. And this was the neighborhood by the same name where my dear late wife Martine was born; so obviously I know it well. Can’t believe not written on this church before!!  There is not much online on it but I have a historical book on Meaux showing all monuments and their history!!

meaux ch st nicolas belltower side dec18

At the entrance to the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas, which extends east of the ramparts of the old town, stands the parish church which serves the district. This church, separated from the street by a small garden, was originally the chapel of the convent of the Friars Minor. The parish Church of Saint-Nicolas is in fact the former chapel of the Cordeliers convent, installed in Meaux since the 13C. According to the historical tradition perpetuated by the convent itself, in 1248 the Franciscans set up their establishment in the Faubourg Saint-Nicolas on land donated by Jean Rose (ancestor of the 14C rich merchant). However, the scroll of the dead bears mention of the Cordeliers of Meaux from 1234, which implies a somewhat earlier arrival.

Meaux ch st nicolas side dec18

In accordance with the tradition of the mendicant orders, the Franciscan chapel was a building of great simplicity: it had only one vessel, each bay being marked by an ogival bay, without tracery, between two buttresses. This part indicates a medieval dating maybe end of the 15C, but the chapel was subsequently greatly altered, with the installation, at the beginning of the 18C, of a low arched roof and a decoration of pilasters. The buildings of the Cordeliers convent were in fact the subject of major works around 1700, affecting both the church in 1706 and the dormitory in 1708. This campaign was accompanied by a renewal of the furniture such as the high altar, its altarpiece, the paintings of the two small altars were redone from 1696 to 1712. The two paintings representing Saint Francis and Saint Roch, the latter signed and dated Guy- Louis Vernansal, 1701, are probably the remains of this Louis XIV style decoration.

The convent was sold as national property during the French revolution. During this period, the monks were expelled and the church became a place of accommodation for troops, then a warehouse. Following a 19C Royal ordinance, six years of work were necessary for the reopening of the place of worship. The city then acquired the church by August 1791, used as a stable and as a warehouse. In 1837, the church was transferred to the parish factory. The architects to return the building to worship carried out significant work, again celebrated within its walls from 1842. Other interventions proved necessary in the 1850s, in particular at the level of the buttresses. It is also from this period that the apse chapel dates, a neo-Gothic extension on two levels with crypt and upper chapel, commissioned in 1849 by the parish priest, Father Berthemet.

As for the conventual buildings, they were occupied in the 19C by the gendarmerie, the municipal library and the school of the brothers, which today is the Pasteur elementary school and the Henri IV college (middle school).

A bit more on the construction architectural details I like:

The Saint-Nicolas Church has an elongated plan with a single aisle, terminated in the east by an apse originally with cut sides, on which has been grafted a semicircular chapel on two levels with crypt and upper chapel. The first bay is occupied by an entrance vestibule surmounted by a bell tower. The nave and the choir, whose limit is marked only by a step, occupy the rest of the rectangle. Their elevation is very simple with each bay delimited by two buttresses and lit on an ogival bay, without tracery. The north side is blind ,except for a small pierced bay near the organ stand, and a window. The whole is covered by a false wooden vault. The interior walls have a neoclassical ornamentation: pilasters, dentil cornice. A partition fitted out in the 1960s hides the cut sides and the apsidal chapel which end the church to the east. The apsidal chapel is clearly distinguished from the rest of the building, both by its neo-Gothic style and by its two-storey structure. The upper chapel was adorned with wall paintings which are now partly covered with white wash. It is the only vestige of the paintings which adorned the whole church in the 19C.

There is an old picture of the nave to altar in the city of Meaux heritage page on the Saint Nicolas Church

There you go folks, another gem in my dear Meaux that I had left overlooked all these years and finally tell you about it witha  couple exterior pictures. Hope you enjoy the Saint Nicolas Church of Meaux!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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