Hidden behind a placo wall in a Norman fireplace, they discovered founettes

Hidden behind a placo wall in a Norman fireplace, they discovered founettes
Hidden behind a placo wall in a Norman fireplace, they discovered founettes


Editorial La Voix Le Bocage

Published on

May 20, 2024 at 11:43 a.m.

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Arriving from Burgundy three years ago to be closer to their two daughters living in Normandy, Valérie and Eric Huwette-Décalloz, young retirees, bought an old house in Mesnil-Robert (Calvados) which they are working to renovate. . The building is modest, but full of these historical details which the couple particularly appreciates. In the garden there are the remains of a mill, a bakery…

» Our idea was to put a stove in the fireplace. The previous owner had covered everything with plasterboard to install his television in the fireplace! When my husband started cutting the panels and removing the glass wool, we discovered a first niche approximately 35 cm high by 30 wide and 30 cm deep, then a second a little smaller in continuity with the first,” remembers Valérie.

“We said to ourselves that we were going to find a treasure there”

The two niches located 1 meter high from the ground immediately spark their imagination. Valérie comments with a laugh:

Obviously, we said to ourselves that we would perhaps find a treasure there or something else like the famous coin that the masons had the habit of leaving in the walls. But no, nothing, the two holes are indeed empty

Intrigued by these alcoves, the purpose of which they do not know, especially since the entire bottom of the chimney has been entirely bricked up to form a pallet, the couple who love old stones begin research. » We like to know the history of the place. When we bought, we wanted to retrace the history of our house and, thanks to the departmental archiveswe were able to find the presence of the house and its successive owners since the Revolution “, reports Eric. Engraved on the lintel of the fireplace the date of 1704 testifies to the antiquity of the place.

But that may not be the original date. Our elders did a lot of recovery and often reused cut granite

When the work started, Eric had no idea what he would discover. ©Valérie Hewette-Décalloz

The journal of Norman traditions

Their first searches remained in vain, Valérie launched an appeal on Facebook. She publishes photos of strange niches. » This is called in Norman a ‘founette’. If it is at the bottom of the fireplace, it is to put a casserole inside with embers. This was also used to pile up the ashes which will be used to make laundry. THE high whips it’s for matches, tobacco, salt, gunpowder to keep dry,” an Internet user immediately tells them, quoting “Le Viquet,” a newspaper of Norman traditions. Information that is almost impossible to verify as the internet remains silent on the subject of the “founette”, which nevertheless satisfies the couple.

With the glass wool removed, the strange niche appears at the top of the hearth. ©Valérie Hewette-Décalloz

Initially, we wanted to break everything down to put back fire protection and install the stove in the chimney. But upon discovering this founette, a little piece of history of daily life before, we no longer know what we are going to do! In any case, if we decide to refill, we will undoubtedly leave a little thing, an object, a message for future owners who will carry out work in a few decades or hundreds of years.

Finally, the founette and all the stories she tells them today, maybe that’s the real thing. hidden treasure from Valérie and Eric’s house!

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