The Presbytery

Before the Revolution, the parish priest was an important man. He held in his grasp all the authority of the village. The presbytery was his residence.


About 1780, Father Hebert found the building to be old and uninhabitable. He wanted to demolish it in order to build a new one. He asked the landowner for permission to do so. But, at the time, some were opposed to the project.


Indeed, Monsieur Anne George Campion de Montpoignant, lord of La Rive, was opposed to the idea. He demanded that an expert be asked to see if the building would be suitable for repair at a lower cost than rebuilding. An assembly met on 10th July 1785, after Sunday Mass. They agreed with the priests wishes and decided that a sum of 3000 livres [pounds] would be granted to build the new presbytery. The work would be financed by an exceptional local tax spread over two years, as from 1st January 1786.


On 14th March 1786, Lord Campion lodged an Appeal with the Sieur Intendant of Rouen in which he sought to cancel everything associated with the proposed construction. He even prosecuted the workmen from the Bailly of Vernon. Naturally, the priest stood up for them.


On 25th April 1786, Mr Pierre Charles Laurent de Villedeuil forwarded to both parties an extract from the registers of the Royal Council of State [Louis XVI]. The Council approved the decision of Venables Parish dated 10th July 1785, in which it had been agreed to provide the Parish Priest with a sum of 3000 Livres with which to build a new presbytery. Furthermore, Monsieur Campion de Montpoignant�s case was dismissed.


But Lord Campion counter-attacked by submitting a new petition, dated 15th November 1786.Thus Georges de Campion, Lord of Venables, La Rive and other places, residing at his castle of Lormais� developed again all the arguments presented in the legal language of the day, and sought again the appointment of an expert. In his opinion, there was a legal flaw in the initial deliberation. Indeed, the deliberation should have been related to a register signed by all the voters, who should have expressed themselves individually. The Parish Priest, thinking that his project would otherwise fail, had sought only the signatures of those who considered the presbytery to be un-restorable.


Monsieur Campion then called upon Article 9 of a Court Ruling of 26th July 1751, which specified the formalities that had to be observed in all matters pertaining to owners petitions, and which confirmed the legal flaw. A new Assembly was thus to be convened in order to deliberate without interference. Moreover, the sum of 3000 Livres could not be disbursed merely on the proposal of a Parish Priest. The Assembly had to consider all other proposals with complete freedom.


On 18th January 1787, the Bailiff of Vernon ordered the masons not to demolish the presbytery.

The Revolution thundered by, but in Venables, both parties continued to clash before the Law; whether to repair the presbytery or to build nine of them!


In the end, the old presbytery appears to have been demolished and a new one, similar in style to its predecessor, was built at the very end of the 18th century or early in the 19th century.