HISTORY OF FAUQUEMBERGUES

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The unusual shape of Saint-Léger Church overlooks the main square of Fauquembergues lined by bourgeois houses. The rest of the town extends along the Aa River where 14th century medieval mills prospered until the debut of electricity. Its rich medieval past is not at first easily guessed, as visitors must look from above to see the traces of ancient battlements and the now disappeared fortified castle.

The church burned down in 1198, but was reconstructed as a vast collegiate church of which the ambulatory transept and choir were destroyed again during the wars. A second tower framed the church’s facade in the 15th century and served as a refuge for residents from the terrors of the 100 Years War to the ravages of the 16th century. Later once peace was restored, the tower served  as a school.  The neoclassical porch of the church and several white stone houses in the town were constructed in the 18th century. One of these 18th century homes was the birthplace of the composer Pierre Alexandre Monsigny in 1729.

Fauquembergues grew extensively between the Revolution and the Great War, which is evident today with the many store  fronts occupying the ground floors of the buildings in the town centre. Around 1900, people would come from long and far for the town’s market using the “tortillard,” a slow train that followed the small picturesque bridges on the Aa River.

The site of a former mill is now Enerlya, the house of renewable energy that is open to visit all year. In addition, residents renewed the festive tradition of recreating the giant Amoric in 2012.

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