Victor Hugo’s novel inspired the restoration of Notre Dame in 1832 What would Guernsey’s most famous resident have done today?
As the 19th-century cartoons above demonstrate, Victor Hugo has always been entwined with Notre-Dame.
No-one can look at the cathedral today and not think of Quasimodo and Esmeralda, as much a part of Notre-Dame as the rose windows and the great towers. This is why The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society has decided to host a local appeal for the reconstruction of Notre Dame following the tragic fire.
As we contemplate the fire in Paris our thoughts turn to Victor Hugo’s great novel – Notre-Dame de Paris. It was Hugo and this novel that revived enthusiasm for the gothic architecture of medieval Europe. He had a passion for the medieval era, its art and architecture, and was a conservationist before his time. From a young age he worked to preserve historic buildings, at risk from speculators after the French Revolution.
Hugo took an interest in the medieval castles of Guernsey. When the destruction of Vale Castle was threatened.
He gave support to his friend Henri Marquand (editor of the Gazette de Guernesey) who vigorously campaigned for the preservation of the castle. In February 1857 Marquand quoted Hugo in an editorial – ‘The other day the restorer of archaeology in Europe – Victor Hugo – said to us that destroying the Archangel castle (i.e. Vale Castle) would be a desecration, an indescribable absurdity … ’.
Islanders and visitors alike should remember Hugo as a champion of Guernsey’s medieval heritage. Victor Hugo was an optimist. He saw the cathedral of Notre-Dame restored thanks to his efforts. And in these sad days we should remember Notre-Dame in Paris and offer our help.
Cheques by post (made to: The Victor Hugo In Guernsey Society) should be sent to:
The Notre Dame Appeal, Le Caprice, Cobo Coast Road, Castel, GY5 7HE
Cash can be given at:
Fletcher Sports, Commercial Arcade, St. Peter Port and on St. Sampson’s Bridge.
All donations will be listed in a register and sent to Paris with the consolidated amount. There will be an option for anonymity if requested. (Online this can be done by adding a note to your donation)
Further information from: Chair, Dinah Bott 07911 744192, Chair@victorhugoinguernsey.gg or
Roy Bisson on 07781 100 296, Sec@victorhugoinguernsey.gg