Fecamp - Encyclopedia

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FECAMP, a seaport and bathing resort of northern France, in the department of Seine-Inferieure, 28 m. N.N.E. of Le Havre on the Western railway. Pop. (5906) 15,872. The town, which is situated on the English Channel at the mouth of the small river Fécamp, consists almost entirely of one street upwards of 2 m. in length. It occupies the bottom and sides of a narrow valley opening out towards the sea between high cliffs. The most important building is the abbey church of La Trinite, dating for the most part from 1175 to 1225. The central tower and the south portal (13th century) are the chief features of its simple exterior; in the interior, the decorative work, notably the chapel-screens and some fine stained glass, is remarkable. The hôtel-de-ville with a municipal museum and library occupy the remains of the abbey buildings (18th century). The church of St. Etienne (16th century) and the Benedictine liqueur distillery,' a modern building which also contains a museum, are of some interest. A tribunal and chamber of commerce, a board of trade-arbitrators and a nautical school, are among the public institutions. The port consists of an entrance channel nearly 400 yds. long leading to a tidal harbour and docks capable of receiving ships drawing 26 ft. at spring-tide, 19 ft. at neap-tide. Fishing for herring and mackerel is carried on and the town equips a large fleet for the codbanks of Newfoundland and Iceland. The chief exports are oil-cake, flint, cod and Benedictine liqueur. Imports include coal,timber, tar and hemp. Steam sawing, metal-founding, fish-salting, shipbuilding and repairing, and the manufacture of ship's-biscuits and fishing-nets are among the industries.

The town of Fécamp grew up round the nunnery founded in 658 to guard the relic of the True Blood which, according to the legend, was found in the trunk of a fig-tree drifted from Palestine to this spot, and which still remains the most precious treasure of the church. The original convent was destroyed by the Northmen, but was re-established by Duke William Longsword as a house of canons regular, which shortly afterwards was converted into a Benedictine monastery. King Richard I. greatly enlarged this, and rebuilt the church. The town achieved some prosperity under the dukes of Normandy, who improved its harbour, but after the annexation of Normandy to France it was overshadowed by the rising port of Havre.

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