Thursday 10 January 2013

Tithe Barn

Every year the mairie, as everywhere else in France, sends out an invite to all the inhabitants to the Bonne Année Réception. This year the reception was held last Sunday, on Epiphany and there was a huge turnout. There were even local big-wigs seen pressing the flesh.

Entrance; some landscaping yet to be done
The reason? Our Salle des Spectacles has been completed. Well, as Claude, our maire pointed out in his speech, all barring some landscaping and the final fitting out of the kitchens. Our commune is home to just over 500 people and we estimated that about 300 turned up to inspect the new facility. We don't think they were disappointed. We weren't, it has been very tastefully done.
Great view over the Aigronne valley
The new salle des spectacles has been formed out of part of the range of outbuildings which are all that is left of the original feudal castle. We've written about the complex before, here and here. Sadly, the main building of the feudal castle is now, after many mutations,  a semi-derelict ferme fort.

Beginning to fill up with people

Laid out on the tables next to the glasses all ready for the vin d'honneur were copies of a really interesting little leaflet about the history of the building which now forms the heart of the complex.
Local big-wigs getting in on the act
We knew it was a barn, one of a series of buildings which were orginally within the feudal castle's bailey; but it seems that it was a little bit more important than that. Research by  our village historical society has found that it was a "grange aux dîmes " or tithe barn owned by the seigneur [lord of the manor] of Charnizay. Although there are no 'proper' archives for the Charnizay tithe barn they have found some mentions of it in 17th, 18th and 19th century documents.
La salle: getting crowed
It seems that though owned by the seigneur of Charnizay, the barn was probably given over in use to the Prieuré [priory] of Charnizay for storing the tithes.  A mention in the records of the Prieuré de Charnizay from 24 June 1634 records that one brother Georges Boisdron, Prior of both Charnizay and of La Sainte Trinité de Fourgere in Britanny, levied the rights of "dixieme", "terrage" and other taxes due to the lord of the manor in right of tenancy.  The "dîmes" was a tax of a tenth of the harvest levied on crops such as cereals or on produce such as wine. The "droit de terrage" were feudal dues paid in kind--labour.  The number of taxes and tithes due to the lords of the manor, whether secular or religious, were many!
A glass of kir and a slice of brioche for Bonne Année & the opening
All this came to an end with the fall of the Ancien Régime and the French Revolution. In the inventory of goods and property made in 1802 on the death of Charlotte de Menou [member of a leading local family] there is a mention of 'La grange de Reserve au bourg' formerly the 'grange aux dîmes'.

So thanks to the renovation and transformation the 'grange aux dîmes' has been given a new lease of life as our salle des spectacles; and worth raising a glass to!


Tim said...

Fascinating... it looks to be a beautiful building. "Grange aux dimes"... now we know what to call our grange, formerly the tithe barn of the abbey on the hill beyond La Jarrie. Look forward to attending events there... but perhaps not Tri Yann... there wouldn't have been room!

And the weather remains 'driech'!

Susan said...

We saw people going in as we passed on Sunday. I'm interested to see Bertu there (our maire). Preuilly seems to have given up on the new year drinks.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
This is such a wonderful community resource. The barn has obviously been restored and modernised extremely sympathetically and will, no doubt, be home to many memorable community events.Such a nice idea to christen the building with New Year drinks!

Wishing you both a joyful and peaceful 2013!!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - they've done a super job, a sympathetic blend of restoration and stylish new fittings.

There were intimations from the 'big-wigs that they would give a little bit of financial support our 'petit village'[their words] for something similar to the Tri-Yann conert to take place this year with a view to becoming a fixture....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - I think your maire was there as president [of the maires] of our communité des communes. There was also someone from the Conseil General who went on about the health centre in Descartes and the one about to open in St Flovier ...amongst other things... oh an did a quick plug for subsidies which are available to improve one's housing--insulation, windows etc....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - it is a lovely restoration and no doubt be a great setting for events and concerts. Just heard that a Bulgarian band is to play in May.

the fly in the web said...

They have done a nice job, and what a super idea to put out a leaflet on the history.

Amazing how many bigwigs turn out at these events to remind you of their usefulness, isn't it...and you're always sure of a vin d'honneur when they turn up!
I always like the dress code for the platform party in rural France...the only item missing here is the leather jacket.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - it was there honest!! I'm sure Niall said he saw a leather jacket--it must have been hiding ;-)

Oh yes there was a fair crew on the stage and the chappie from the CG was gladhanding round the room beforehand.

The Kir was good though and it flowed royally!

Tim said...

The chap from the CG is its president Gerard Hainault, also maire of Ferriere Larcon, re-using his speech from Le Grand Pressigny last Friday, and no doubt others in Touraine du Sud! A consummate politician. Pauline

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Pauline - thanks for the correct info.

I was talking to a fellow resident who popped round late this afternoon with some bits for us & found out from her that 'Mr Glad-handing,' isn't from the CG but a big cheese in the communes collective of Sud Touraine. But by then I'd already replied to Susan and you can't edit!

The person next to me at the reception had told me they thought he was from the CG.

Perpetua said...

The historical background is fascinating and it's lovely to see how successful the restoration and conversion have been. Having been given a hearty launch with the New Year celebrations I hope your new salle de spectacles is really well-used by the whole commune. It makes our salle polyvalente (the former small 1960s primary school) look very mundane......

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - the old salle des fetes it replaces is a very gloomy pebble-dashed affair. Utterly uninviting--looks like a temp post WWII building.

GaynorB said...

We've noticed the renovations and wondered about the purpose.

Now we know!

They seem to have mde an excellent job. Will have a closer look at Easter.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - by then they should have done the landscaping and perhaps even kitted out the kitchen.