During the War…

We are very lucky in Chartres to have so many beautiful stained-glass windows, all very unique. 

They are more than 800 years old and their colors are still so bright! If you wanna have a better idea there are more than 2 500 square meters of windows and about 173 glass walls. Those crazy figures makes our cathedral quite amazing! 😊

But how do you think the people succeed to preserve this heritage during World War II?

We are lucky that Chartres was much loved and protected by super heroes!

As soon as the war was declared in 1939, artisans made wooden boxes 📦 tailored espacially for the stained-glass windows. They removed all the window from the cathédrale to store them in the boxes. It took them 2 weeks!!!!! Crazy no?! Knowing that some glasses are 1×1 meter and if you have seen the cathedral it is super high!! Heroes I told you! 😊

They were very smart because they had to organized the stained glass windows to put them back in order afterwards. So they numbered every glass and every box so anyone could figure out how to put them back in their original place. This crazy work started August 25th and ended September 4th of 1939. First they hidded the boxes inside the crypt. They stayed their about a year.

However as the German army was approaching the city it was not safe enough. France had lost the war and almost all the country was occupied…

A decision had to be made: moving the boxes! An inhabitant from the city knew a great place where his family was living the Périgord (south of France 🇫🇷). Indeed this region is full of caves and galeries so it was the perfect place to hide the tresor. They chose the quarry of Château de Frongrenon to secure the stained-glass windows. Not all the boxes could be transported there: 539 boxes out of the 1000 took the train. They others remained in the crypt. 

Jean Moulin was one of the main protagonist of this secret transportation. You know he was a rebel during the war, a true hero! I will tell you more about him in another article. 

All the windows from the cathedral were replaced by plastic windows. Fortunately because at the end of the war so many exploded or were covered by black dirt. 

At the end of the war, the windows could finally come back! People all along the way were clapping when the train 🚂 pass by their town as they knew what it was transporting. 

The stained glass windows were cleaned and studied to better understand their symbolic. They were all set inside the cathedral in October 1948. 

Thanks to all those people we can know admire these piece of art as they are!

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