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Restoration of the chapel

After the work on the eastern terrace, it is now the turn of the castle chapel to be restored. Under the impetus of the association Les Amis du château de Fontaine-Henry, work has been launched to save the chapel, which had been attacked by damp.

An unknown treasure

The Val Busnel chapel is located in the heart of the park of the Fontaine-Henry castle. Built by the powerful de Tilly family, the chapel of the Fontaine-Henry castle is one of the largest among the private castles in France.

It can accommodate up to 130 people and has 42 stalls carved in stone, unique in France and probably intended to house the knights of a mixed order (perhaps that of Saint Lazarus).

 

Its floor is made up of stone slabs with metal joints. This may have been a technique developed during the Hundred Years' War, based on the technique of artillery pieces.

A treasure in danger

Unfortunately, the chapel was in danger of collapsing due to the fragility of its wall feet, which had been eaten away by humidity.

 

In the 1950s, during the post-war restorations, the joints of the base walls were repointed with grey cement. Although strong and effective, this material proved to be a disaster for the chapel as it prevented ventilation and locked moisture into the stones of the walls. Some of the stones were so waterlogged that they were in danger of "melting" like sugar in a cup of coffee.

The works

The work could start in May 2020, after a certain delay due to new surveys and studies requested by the DRAC.

 

The grey cement joints of the base, the buttresses and the interior of the chapel were removed. The walls have begun to be repointed, this time with a mixture of coloured lime and fine sand. These natural materials will allow the stones to breathe and evaporate moisture.

The restorations to be planned

This restoration work has enabled the walls of the nave and the stalls to be restored. These are now out of danger.

 

However, these important restorations are still insufficient to ensure the durability of the 12th century building over time.
Further restoration work is necessary, particularly for the choir. It still has painted plasterwork that certainly dates from its construction. A preliminary study of the pigments and the painting technique should be carried out before starting any work.