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Visiting the Villa Vénitienne, rue de Sygogne 7-11, Dieppe, France: 19th century evocation of a Medieval Italian villa

Updated on December 25, 2013
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
'Villa vénitienne', rue de Sygogne 7-11, Dieppe, Normandy, France
'Villa vénitienne', rue de Sygogne 7-11, Dieppe, Normandy, France | Source
Brick tower of the 'Villa vénitienne', rue de Sygogne 7-11, Dieppe, Normandy, France
Brick tower of the 'Villa vénitienne', rue de Sygogne 7-11, Dieppe, Normandy, France | Source
Peter Schoeffer (c.1425-c.1503)
Peter Schoeffer (c.1425-c.1503) | Source
1744 reprint of a pre-1641 engraving by Joh.Enschede depicting Laurens Coster
1744 reprint of a pre-1641 engraving by Joh.Enschede depicting Laurens Coster | Source

Eclectic influences, but strongly suggestive of Italianate

In the French town of Dieppe which in the 19th century became known as a resort on the English Channel (French: la Manche), there is an interesting large house, which, if it were not itself situated almost in the shadow of Dieppe's Medieval château, (or: château-fort) might well itself have become known as a château also.

This imposing, towered structure — dating from the second half of the 19th century — is described as being eclectic in style (1), and one can see why this is the case. While the square features of the crenelated tower are suggestive of Italianate influence (2), yet the arching of the windows are Gothic or at least semi-Gothic. In turn, the presence of rustication may be derived from Romanesque style. A particular feature of the tower is the liberal use of multicoloured brick.

Medieval influence is reinforced by the presence of statues at the rue de Sygogne elevation which are said to depict the Dutchman Laurent Coster (c. 1370-1440)(3) and the German Peter Schoeffer (c.1425-c.1503), both earlier proponents of the printing press. With the name of the Villa referring to Venice, itself an early centre for the printing industy, this name may be said to fit the historical allusions surrounding the statues.

It is probably quite fair to suggest that, if Dieppe did not possess many other historic buildings, this 19th century villa would likely stand out more prominently in the town's inventory of properties noted for their heritage qualities. Indeed, the building is one which many visitors may pass on their way from the Downtown area towards the castle, rather than necessarily be heading for directly.

One can see how at a time of urban growth in the 19th century, which related considerably to Dieppe's ascendancy as a resort town by the sea, efforts were thus made to link this noted building to older, historical allusions.

The Villa vénitienne is situated at rue de Sygogne, 7-11, Dieppe, in northern France's Seine-Maritime department.

December 26, 2013


(1) See also:

(2) In fact, looking at the Villa Vénitienne, I am reminded generally of the sort of building style manifested by a structure in southern Europe such as the Prince's Palace in Monaco, although this building in Dieppe is on a smaller and less opulent scale. It also reminds me somewhat of Osborne House, on England's Isle of Wight, itself designed under strong, Italianate influence.

(3) Sometimes written Laurens Coster, the preferred Dutch spelling.

Map location of Dieppe
Map location of Dieppe | Source

Also worth seeing

In Dieppe itself, the town's most conspicuous, historic building is its clifftop castle; the monumental church of Saint-Jacques has a long and tumultuous history; the café des Tribunaux was known as a meeting place for artists and writers. A ferry crossing links Dieppe with the English port of Newhaven (from where Canadians military units launched the ill-fated Dieppe Raid in 1942)..

Varengeville-sur-Mer (distance: 12 kilometres); the historic residence of shipping magnate Jehan Ango is located here.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), from where car rental is available (distance from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to Dieppe : 214 kilometres). The French railroad company SNCF maintains a service between Paris (Gare Saint-Lazare ) and Dieppe. You are advised check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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