Mathurin Saint-OmerMathurin Saint-Omer
©Mathurin Saint-Omer

Mathurin, the time keeper of Saint-Omer

Perched on the old campanile, former water gate, Mathurin was an automaton, dating from the sixteenth century, which struck all the hours and quickly became the emblem of the city of Saint-Omer. Partly destroyed during the bombings of World War II, it was reborn from its ashes thanks to the Society of Antiquaries of Morinie and the sculptor Géry Buissart.


17 million hits given

In 1589, following numerous complaints, the magistrate of Saint-Omer had to install a new clock on the water gate known as the Dunkirk gate, where a wooden man struck the hour. The work was entrusted to Antoine Enguerrand, who may have been the son of Pierre Enguerrand, who was commissioned in 1555 to build another heritage curiosity, the astrolabe clock of the Notre-Dame cathedral. Named Mathurin or Jacquemart, it became the emblem of the city and underwent several repairs or reconstructions in 1688, in 1720 and even replaced in 1896. It was the most successful version of the Mathurin that we know, with a very elegant form: top hat, red frock coat and golden buttons, strawberry and varnished shoes. All this finery helped represent the wealth of the city at the time.

Unfortunately, it did not withstand the bombings of World War II in 1940. The entire campanile was in fact destroyed and the remains were razed permanently in 1963 and the campanile was never rebuilt. The statue of the Mathurin was found in very poor condition and preserved in the Sandelin museum and this was the end of the bell ringer who had officiated for 3 centuries.

The Mathurin Revival

However, this was not the end of the Jacquemart Mathurin. Based on an idea by Charles Debacker of the Société des Antiquaires de la Morinie, Géry Buissart was tasked with reviving Mathurin, the Jacquemart of the Haut-Pont Water Gate in 2015. It took several years for the sculptor to research the historical documentation and create the artwork in a gigantic linden wood.

It was in 2021 that the work was completed and Mathurin became visible again and can now be seen at the Maison du Marais, the perfect link between the city and the Audomarois marshlands. In the exhibition “Welcome to Capiau” at the Maison du Marais, he participates in the folklore of the Audomarois marsh and its inhabitants with other symbols such as Marie Groët or even the nautical procession.



of the Pays

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