From, Beautiful Buildings in France & Belgium, Including many which have been destroyed during the war. Reproductions in Colour and Monochrome from rare old Prints and Drawings, by and after Prout, Boys, Coney, W. Callow, David Roberts, C. Wild and others, with descriptive notes, by C. Harrison Townsend, F.R.I.B.A.; New York: The Hubbell Publishing Co., 1916; pp. 194-197.
SOISSONS : STREET SCENE
(T. S. Boys)
F late years the picturesque street of Boys’ sketch has in great measure been modernized and “improved,” while the Cathedral itself has undergone very vigorous restoration. The building, though one of the smallest of the churches of Northern France, is in its proportions one of the most charming of the district, and is in its detail very pure and severe. Its tower dates, as does the main structure, from the middle of the XIIIth century, and is in close imitation of those of Notre Dame, Paris, with which also its height closely corresponds.
Perhaps, unhappily, it would have been 196 more fitting to refer to the beauties of this delightful building in the past tense, for, though far from being an Ypres, the town of Soissons is a considerable wreck. Here “was the spot where St. Louis dedicated himself to the crusades. Every stone of it was holy, and now the lovely old stained glass strews the floor, and the roof lies in a huge heap across the central aisle.” In September 1914 the invaders had seized the town, and on the 13th of that month, as another writer says, “above all the smoke and flame and ruin arose the tower of the old Cathedral, which had dominated the ancient town for seven long centuries.”
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