1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Honfleur

HONFLEUR, a seaport of north-western France, in the department of Calvados, 57 m. N.E. of Caen by rail. Pop. (1906) 8735. The town is situated at the foot of a semicircle of hills, on the south shore of the Seine estuary, opposite Havre, with which it communicates by steamboat. Honfleur, with its dark narrow lanes and old houses, has the typical aspect of an old-fashioned seaport. The most noteworthy of its buildings is the church of St Catherine, constructed entirely of timber work, with the exception of the façade added in the 18th century, and consisting of two parallel naves, of which the more ancient is supposed to date from the end of the 15th century. Within the church are several antique statues and a painting by J. Jordaens—“Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.” The church tower stands on the other side of a street. St Leonard’s dates from the 17th century, with the exception of its fine ogival portal and rose-window belonging to the 16th, and its octagonal tower erected in the 18th. The ruins of a 16th-century castle known as the Lieutenance and several houses of the same period are also of antiquarian interest. The hôtel de ville contains a library and a museum. On the rising ground above the town is the chapel of Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce, a shrine much resorted to by pilgrim sailors, which is said to have been founded in 1034 by Robert the Magnificent of Normandy and rebuilt in 1606. The town has a tribunal and a chamber of commerce and a communal college. The port, which is protected from the west winds by the height known as the Côte de Grâce, consists of the tidal harbour and four floating basins—The West basin, dating from the 17th century, and the Centre, East and Carnot basins. A reservoir affords the means of sluicing the channel and supplying the basins. The surface available for vessels is about 27 acres. Numerous fishing and coasting vessels frequent the harbour. In 1907 there entered 375 vessels, of 133,872 tons, more than half this tonnage being British. The exports go mainly to England and include poultry, butter, eggs, cheese, chocolate, vegetables, fruit, seeds and purple ore. There is regular communication by steamer with Southampton. Timber from Scandinavia, English coal and artificial manures form the bulk of the imports. There are important saw-mills, as well as shipbuilding yards, manufactories of chemical manures and iron foundries.

Honfleur dates from the 11th century and is thus four or five hundred years older than its rival Havre, by which it was supplanted during the 18th century. During the Hundred Years’ War it was frequently taken and re-taken, the last occupation by the English ending in 1440. In 1562 the Protestant forces got possession of it only after a regular siege of the suburb of St Leonard; and though Henry IV. effected its capture in 1590 he had again to invest it in 1594 after all the rest of Normandy had submitted to his arms. In the earlier years of the 17th century Honfleur colonists founded Quebec, and Honfleur traders established factories in Java and Sumatra and a fishing establishment in Newfoundland.