The Collége de Juilly, the oldest college of France !!

I was watching a program on TV and saw an article about this institution that I remembered passing close to read the panels, And as my series black and white, no pictures, fit well into it decided to write a post on its history been so close to my dear city of Meaux, This is my rendition homage to the Collége de Juilly, the oldest college of France !! Hope you enjoy it as I. The material taken from my records, the below webpages and wikipedia.

The town of Juilly is located in the Seine-et-Marne department 77, in the Île-de-France region. It is only 13 km from Meaux and about 30+ km from Paris. You can come to the town by bus line 711: Meaux – Moussy-le-Neuf, I have driven the road D27 from Meaux passing by Juilly on my way taking the Francilienne N104 road around Roissy CDG airport and home, From Paris you can take the BP at Porte de Bercy direction Saint Mande and get on the A3 by Bagnolet direction Rosny sur Bois to the exit/sortie 1 of the La Francilienne here name A104 continue on the N2 same road really,,, direction Saint Mard where you get off on the D404 direction Juilly bear right on the road D9E into city center Juilly, about one hour, By public transports take about 1h30 taking train at Gare de l’Est to Meaux and there the above bus 711 to Juilly.

The Collége de Juilly institution and its park laid out in the 18C, famous for its boarding school created in 1638 and closed in 2012. In the 1960s, it was among the pioneers of teaching English by total immersion on the south coast of England, a method immortalized in Michel Lang’s film: À nous les petits Anglaises.(To us little English girls), The College of Juilly is an educational institution, placed under the supervision of the Oratory of France, which operates almost continuously from 1638 to 2012. It included a kindergarten, a primary school, a college and a high school. Reserved for boys, it had become mixed in the 1980s and then welcomed students, boys and girls, in boarding, half-board and day schools. It is unused abandon ! but still standing as the oldest college of France !! Read on………………..

A bit long history I like

In 470, Saint Geneviève accompanied by Saint Celine stopped in the village of Juilly. According to legend, she kneels there to pray, thus revealing a spring whose water gave them the strength to go to Paris. This spring quickly became a place of pilgrimage to which many sick people flocked. It is still in the center of the college, at the foot of the statue of Saint Geneviève.

Around the spring, the Counts of Dammartin created a domain which they gave as a fief to the Garlandes at the beginning of the 12C. In 1251, Blanche de Castille, mother of Saint Louis, (Louis IX) decided to set up an orphanage there for the children of the dead knights on crusades. It was in 1429 or 1430 that Joan of Arc would have stayed there. Nicolas Dangu, was appointed Abbot of Juilly when he was a simple cleric of the diocese of Chartres. He would later become adviser, master of requests and chancellor to the King of Navarre Antoine de Bourbon, father of Henri IV in 1555. This is how Antoine de Bourbon probably often came to meet Nicolas Dangu in Juilly. Dangu undertook to restore the abbey from 1552 to 1561, thanks to the munificence of Henri II d’Albret (grandfather of Henri IV), whose heart is still preserved today in the chapel of the college. In this chapel there is also still a kneeling statue of Nicolas Dangu erected in 1561. In 1637, the last abbot of Juilly resigned his decadent and dilapidated Abbey in favor of the Oratorians.

The Fathers of the Oratory then founded the college in 1638. During this same period, Louis XIII wanted to found a college that he could visit regularly for the education of the sons of the French nobility, who fell on the battlefields but did not according to him, was not always sufficiently attached to the king. The college therefore received, presumably through letters patent, the title of Royal Academy. Thus, even today, the coat of arms of the College of Juilly associates the arms of France (fleurs de lys) with those of the Oratory (Jesus Maria surrounded by a crown of thorns). Bossuet, then bishop of Meaux, stays at the College in 1689, 1692, 1696 and 1697.

The French revolution brings to the life of the college a certain number of difficulties. The obligation of the oath of the clergy, voted by the Assembly on July 12 and November 27, 1790, is the first of them. Then comes the law of August 18, 1792, which abolishes secular congregations. The Oratory therefore no longer exists. In August 1792, a crowd entered the college under the orders of a commissioner from the Directory of Meaux, broke down the doors of the chapel, mutilated its cross, its vases, its torches, piled up its ornaments, its paintings and the carved wood of the old stalls in the large courtyard and turns it into a bonfire, around which the students are forced to sing the Carmagnole (revolutionary song). These were the only excesses that took place at Juilly. The corridors, which bore the names of Bérulle, Condren, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Bossuet, were renamed Robespierre, Marat, Saint-Just, Billaud and Couthon. In 1793, the college served for the first time as a hospital for the wounded of the armies of the North and of the Rhine. The few remaining students, notably those from the American colonies, were dismissed following the food shortage of 1794. After the thermidorian reaction, the college was put up for sale as national property.

The buildings, meanwhile, were not too affected and from 1796, the students were brought back. Moreover, the benevolence of the First Consul, (Napoleon I) who had visited his brother Jérôme at the college when the latter was a student there, helped to restore Juilly’s fortunes. The college thus became the Institution of Juilly in 1809. A decree signed by Napoléon I on August 29, 1813 in Dresden made it a real high school (lycée). In 1814, the Cossacks plundered the college. The fall of the Empire also marks the end of the use of any designation other than institution. The Royal Academy and Royal College designations, therefore no longer apply. The name maison de Juilly will be printed until 1828 on circulars, then, from 1829, the name Collège de Juilly is taken over.

On January 6, 1815, three priests, former Oratorians, bought the college but not too long after the dead priests, the difficulties in raising the college and reviving the oratory had repercussions on the life of the college , It was therefore necessary to give up the college The college was sold on July 12, 1828. It was then sought to transfer the college to a teaching congregation to ensure, once again, the long-term future of the college. But at that time, the Jesuits were expelled and the other congregations were still subject to revolutionary laws. Therefore , it was decided to turn it a congregation in the process of formation, the Congregation of Saint-Pierre, founded in 1828, But on August 15, 1832, the abolition of the Avenir (future), the disappearance of the agency and the dissolution of the Congregation of Saint -Pierre, came to stop the college.

The Oratory was reborn in 1852. Surprisingly, however, the new Oratory showed no rush to take possession of the most beautiful jewel of its heritage, which it nevertheless did on May 13, 1867. The fathers of the Oratory took over the direction of Juilly. Six Oratorian fathers, successively ensured the direction of the establishment until 1903. It is particularly important to remember from this period the construction, from 1887 to 1889, of the current chapel and, just below it, of the hall of Busts. In 1903, the religious congregations responsible for Catholic education were dissolved in France.(law of separation of State and Church), The Oratorians dispersed, and the management of the college was successively taken over by two priests from the diocese of Meaux. In fact, from 1913 to 1930 the college experienced a period of recovery and vigor.

During the Great War or WWI, on Father Sabatier’s proposal, a large hospital room was opened in the halle de Bustes or hall of busts, while the teachers’ refectory, whitewashed with ripolin, became an operating room. Then three dormitories, other operating rooms and an x-ray room were opened, making the college a branch of the American Red Cross (doctors from New York arrived to practice there). Almost normal school activity continued until 1918. In June, the entire college was made available to the American Red Cross, which set up fifteen tents and a thousand beds there and treated victims of the Battle of Belleau Wood.(the first engagement of American troops of the American Expeditionary Force, Lafayette we are here !)

When the war was over, the interior of most of the college buildings had to be restored, as well as many roof tiles. In the chapel, the side chapels of the transept had stained glass windows evoking the two patron saints of Juilly: Saint Geneviève and Joan of Arc . A Cavaillé-Coll parlor organ, coming from a castle in Sologne, was also purchased in 1925 and placed in the gallery. The other major improvement of this period was the construction of the library in 1928.

In the years 1980-1990, the college educated a thousand students, including 600 boys in boarding school. After several years of financial difficulties, the establishment was placed in receivership in March 2012. On May 16, 2012, the High Court instance of Meaux pronounces the judicial liquidation of the establishment. The Collége de Juilly closes its doors on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. In 2018, the buildings are in an advanced state of disrepair, the main courtyard is fallow, the library housing thousands of books is vandalized. The college bell, recast in its original form in 1849 ,and the clock dated 1596 are still save inside, The college has a very fine library which includes a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, which was offered to La Fayette, as well as the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert in its original edition. In 2018, it was vandalized and thousands of works disappeared. The chapel threatens to fall into ruin. The college park It has not been maintained since 2012 and has returned to the wild state.

Many illustrious names in the history of France were students or visited the college/lycee de Juilly such as Joan of Arc, Bossuet, Jean de la Fontaine, Charles de Montesquieu, Paul Marmottan, Alexandre de Beauharnais, Jérôme Bonaparte, Vaucanson, Jean-Dominique Cassini, Auguste Marseille Barthélemy, François-Joseph-Marie Fayolle, Philippe Noiret, and Michel Polnareff to name just a few.

The town of Juilly on public transports : http://www.juilly77.fr/fr/information/48784/transports 

A bit more on the national archives of France on Juilly college : https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/siv/rechercheconsultation/consultation/pog/consultationPogN3.action?pogId=FRAN_POG_05&nopId=p-aj28nn1mg–mxp7s2ieog5j

One of the sites I read, Histoire et Patrimoine or history and heritage of France on juilly college : https://www.histoire-patrimoine.fr/programme-immobilier/actualites/pensionnat-de-juilly

There you go folks, another wonderful historical and architectural gem of my belle France. There is so much here, many are preserve and kept open for the pleasure of all. Many more are not, and cannot be visited as the place is under surveillance, but worth the detour to see it, eventually. The Collége de Juilly is part of the history of France as still the oldest school in France ! Again, hope you have enjoy it as I

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

2 Comments to “The Collége de Juilly, the oldest college of France !!”

  1. This is great! I teach public speaking and I have a master’s in communication. My lead professor was an incredible debater and Oratorian who has been a prominent figure in academia and the political world. I love hearing about the history of old colleges that played a large part in history. Thank you! 🙂 Annie

    Liked by 1 person

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