March 10, 2023


Normandy's English connection: The region combines ancient and modern splendours with an eye turned ever northwards (Matthew Lloyd Roberts, March 2023, The Critic)

For English travellers to France in the first half of the eighteenth century, Normandy held a certain allure and familiarity. Despite the many marked differences that came with crossing the channel, Englishmen felt themselves unexpectedly at home in Normandy. Projecting a medieval history that lingered in the popular imagination onto their built environment, one such gentleman wrote in a published travel account of 1701 that "All public Buildings, and some private in Roan [Rouen], are built by the English." 

The antiquary and librarian Andrew Ducarel declared that "NORMANDY does so nearly resemble OLD ENGLAND, that we could scarce believe ourselves to be in FRANCE," commenting on a vernacular architecture of half-timber and thatch he recognised from his travels in Hertfordshire and Rutland.

An oolitic limestone that verges between clotted cream and brilliant white

The foundations of such insistent recognition lie in a feeling of shared cultural heritage between this region of France and England, most strongly expressed by Ducarel when he visits the tapestry at Bayeux, relating a hardly believable account of the ignorance of its custodians. 

Posted by at March 10, 2023 7:10 AM


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