Heritage history


> The Cistercian abbey at Alba Ripa was founded in1135 by12 monks from Clairvaux Abbey and has witnessed some of the great movements in our history. Its destiny has meant it has met some of the great names, all of them linked to their epoch.

> It owes its existence to the great monastery movement of the 12th century and St Bernard’s presence is attested to in its walls. It has the typical Bernardin architecture: an abbey church with a flat apse facing east, an east wing for the monks and choir, a west wing for the converted monks and a north wing for commoners.

> Its geographic location is also typical of what Cistercians looked for: an isolated area where you water that can be used during construction and for the communal life. In practice, St. Benoît’s rules forbade eating meat so the Cistercians developed fish farming. At Auberive, the monks channelled the Aube over about 1 km and created a system of canals to distribute clean water and drain waste water, a race for the mill allowed complete autarchy.

> The Abbey, Clairvaux’s 24th daughter, achieved its heyday in terms of possessions in the 13th century when its possessions included 4 houses in the town, 14 mills, 13 lakes, 11 barns, an iron and a salt mine.

> The 14th and 15th centuries are poorly documented. It is known that the Abbey suffered in the 100 years war because the flock of 2,540 sheep present in 1386 was reduced to only 600 by 1418. The Abbey was obliged to rent out most of its possessions due to a lack of converts.

> The 16th century marked the start of the ‘commende’. In 1516, the Bologne concordat resulted in François 1st obtaining the authority to exercise the right of ‘commende’ that the Pope had held since the end of the 14th century. The king named the Abbots as ‘commendataires’, religious or lay, and they received part of the Abbey’s profits.

> Auberive was no exception and had 14 ‘commendatoire’ abbots between 1519 and 1791. The first, Louis de Rye, had the abbot’s palace built outside the monastery’s enclosure: its architecture, with its mullioned windows, is typical of the first half of the 16th century.

> This was also the century of the religious wars. Auberive was pillaged twice in 1567 and 1587 and had difficulty collecting its revenues.

> In the18th century, the buildings were reconstructed, marking the end of the Cistercian abbey. Two periods of construction gave the Abbey its current appearance: from 1750 to 1770, the west and north wings were rebuilt. The 12th century chapel was demolished (except for the choir) and rebuilt in parallel to the east and west wings with a north/south alignment.

> The west wing became the guest wing and was made to look like a chateau with a monumental facade in a classical style. The bridges over the Aube were also rebuilt as was the mill race and the dovecote. From1781 to 1787, the east wing was rebuilt using plans prepared by the architect Buron and it was elevated to avoid the humidity.

> The monastic orders were deleted in 1790. The remaining 8 monks left in early 1791 and the domain was sold as a national asset. Caroillon de Vandeul, Diderot’s son-in-law, bought the buildings and installed cotton spinners in the east wing between 1797 and 1807. However, the business did not flourish and the Vanduels then transformed the Abbey into a residence. They had the main entrance grate, called ‘de Jean Lamour’, brought form Beaulieu Abbey.

> After the death of his parents, the Vanduel’s son sold the Abbey to the Master of the Bordet forges. The new owner demolished the 13th century chapel and used the stone to build a high furnace 6 km away at a place called La Tuilliére. He enlarged the mill to create an orangery.

> 1856 saw the start of a new period of being linked to Clairvaux Abbey. In order to reduce overcrowding in the prison at Clairvaux, the state bought the Abbey and sent the women there. The most famous prisoner was the ‘communarde’ Louise Michel who was held prisoner for 20 months from December 1871 to August 1873 before being deported to New Caledonia.

> The Abbey was updated in two phases: The outer walls were strengthened and a polyvalent chapel was built along with punishment cells in the east wing.

> Between 1885 and 1891, the Abbey became a workhouse for minor delinquents then, from 1894 to 1924, a farming camp for young boys. Their time was split between farm work and basic education.

> From 1925 to 1960, the Abbey once again found a religious presence when Monseigneur Ghika founded the St Jean Community in order to ease any distress and support vocations, even if late. However, due to a lack of money, the buildings were sold to the Benedictines from the Source de Paris.
> The Abbey was requisitioned during the Second World War before the Benedictines returned and restored the side chapel and cloisters. The Abbey was sold in 1960 to the company Solvay and was used as a holiday camp for its employees’ children until 2004 when the Volot family bought it to create a cultural centre.