A wide-ranging partnership
Furnishings are defined as all the works and objects of an outstanding nature in churches, chapels, public or private buildings… From 2009 to 2011, Saint-Omer town council, had the first digital inventory of its furnishings carried out. In order to do so it received the support of the Direction régionale des affaires culturelles, the Pas-de-Calais General Council and the technical help of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Regional Council as such help is part of its remit.
A partnership with the Heritage Multimedia Centre was also forged. This inventory had several goals It helps improve the protection and conservation of the objects, knowledge about them and therefore also their future restoration and enhancement. Precise specifications were drawn up and a precise working method was put in place with all the partners and the chosen service provider.
Precise working method
The inventory was conducted by Decrock, a consultancy specialising in culture.
Five people worked on it for several months. Research on these objects was undertaken in the main archives. Afterwards, 24 sites were visited, located in Saint-Omer as well as Longuenesse and Helfaut. These establishments were all previously situated in Saint-Omer before being relocated such as the prison, a secondary school/sixth-form college and the hospital. Among the items discovered, the ones of particular interest were the subject of a computerised inventory record and digital photos. In total the best part of 1,400 objects were included in the inventory and the database contains in excess of 7,000 images made up of these photos and old images taken from the archives. A series of records was also prepared for the monuments visited for which none existed.
There are different types of objects. The main furnishings represented are sculptures, objects made by woodworkers, stonemasonry, smelting and ironwork, silversmiths, fabrics, paintings and stained-glass windows. 43% of the furnishings were already protected as listed items. The breakdown varies considerably from site to site: 41% in the cathedral, 15% in Saint-Denis Church, 7% in Saint-Sépulcre Church, 6% in the Church of the Immaculate Conception and 5% at Helfaut Hospital. It also varies from one period of history to another: More than two-thirds of the objects date back to the contemporary era and, above all, the 19th century, while over a quarter are from the modern era i.e. from the 16th to the 18th century and 6% from the Middle Ages. The records have been forwarded to Palissy, the French furnishing heritage database.