A little history of Vaucelles abbey
This Cistercian abbey was restored in 1971. Its church was the most important Cistercian one in Europe! And did you know Louise of Savoy, king François I's mother, stayed in the abbey in 1529, when she came in Cambrai city in order to sign the Paix des Dames treaty ("Peace of the Ladies")? In 1556, Henri II and Charles V signed Vaucelles truce here...
Anyway, in 1131, Hugues II d'Oisy, lord of Crèvecœur, gave his Ligescourt estate to Cistercian monks. In August 1132, saint Bernard laid down the first stone of the abbey; he called it vallis cella... Vaucelles was born!
20 monks cleared the plot of land, raised a high and long surrounding wall. The church and other buildings were raised within 20 years: in May 1149, archbishop of Reims dedicated the church.
The monastery became very prosperous and monks had to extend it. Works began in 1190, they were finished in 1235.
To the north of the church, we found two cloisters: the first one, raised between 1252 and 1254 by abbot Guillaume of Gand; the second one, smaller, where copyists worked.
We also found a room where monks could warm up on winter, the only place in the whole abbey where they were allowed to do this! There also was a library, a chapter room and a dormitory on first floor.
In the 18th century, abbot Dom Ruffin raised a beautiful library for his precious books: this man owned more than 40 000 volumes!
At that time, the abbey was very rich: in 1178, it had 2 227 hectares of arable lands, many woods and ponds but also huge orchards, big fisheries, a dovecote, barns... But when the French Revolution came, the monastery was transformed into a quarry...