1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dieppe

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DIEPPE, a seaport of northern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Seine-Inférieure, on the English Channel, 38 m. N. of Rouen, and 105 m. N.W. of Paris by the Western railway. Pop. (1906) 22,120. It is situated at the mouth of the river Arques in a valley bordered on each side by steep white cliffs. The main part of the town lies to the west, and the fishing suburb of Le Pollet to the east of the river and harbour. The sea-front of Dieppe, which in summer attracts large numbers of visitors, consists of a pebbly beach backed by a handsome marine promenade. Dieppe has a modern aspect; its streets are wide and its houses, in most cases, are built of brick. Two squares side by side and immediately to the west of the outer harbour form the nucleus of the town, the Place Nationale, overlooked by the statue of Admiral A. Duquesne, and the Place St Jacques, named after the beautiful Gothic church which stands in its centre. The Grande Rue, the busiest and handsomest street, leads westward from the Place Nationale. The church of St Jacques was founded in the 13th century, but consists in large measure of later workmanship and was in some portions restored in the 19th century. The castle, overlooking the beach from the summit of the western cliff, was erected in 1435. The church of Notre-Dame de Bon Secours on the opposite cliff, and the church of St Remy, of the 16th and 17th centuries, are other noteworthy buildings. A well-equipped casino stands at the west end of the sea-front. The public institutions include the subprefecture, tribunals of first instance and commerce, a chamber of commerce, a communal college and a school of navigation.

Dieppe has one of the safest and deepest harbours on the English Channel. A curved passage cut in the bed of the Arques and protected by an eastern and a western jetty gives access to the outer harbour, which communicates at the east end by a lockgate with the Bassin Duquesne and the Bassin Bérigny, and at the west end by the New Channel, with an inner tidal harbour and two other basins. Vessels drawing 20 ft. can enter the new docks at neap tide. A dry-dock and a gridiron are included among the repairing facilities of the port. The harbour railway station is on the north-west quay of the outer harbour alongside which the steamers from Newhaven lie. The distance of Dieppe from Newhaven, with which there has long been daily communication, is 64 m. The imports include silk and cotton goods, thread, oil-seeds, timber, coal and mineral oil; leading exports are wine, silk, woollen and cotton fabrics, vegetables and fruit and flint-pebbles. The average annual value of imports for the five years 1901-1905 was £4,916,000 (£4,301,000 for the years 1896-1900); the exports were valued at £9,206,000 (£7,023,000 for years 1896-1900). The industries comprise shipbuilding, cotton-spinning, steam-sawing, the manufacture of machinery, porcelain, briquettes, lace, and articles in ivory and bone, the production of which dates from the 15th century. There is also a tobacco factory of some importance. The fishermen of Le Pollet, to whom tradition ascribes a Venetian origin, are among the main providers of the Parisian market. The sea-bathing attracts many visitors in the summer. Two miles to the north-east of the town is the ancient camp known as the Cité de Limes, which perhaps furnished the nucleus of the population of Dieppe.

It is suggested on the authority of its name, that Dieppe owed its origin to a band of Norman adventurers, who found its “diep” or inlet suitable for their ships, but it was unimportant till the latter half of the 12th century. Its first castle was probably built in 1188 by Henry II. of England, and it was counted a place of some consideration when Philip Augustus attacked it in 1195. By Richard I. of England it was bestowed in 1197 on the archbishop of Rouen in return for certain territory in the neighbourhood of the episcopal city. In 1339 it was plundered by the English, but it soon recovered from the blow, and in spite of the opposition of the lords of Hantot managed to surround itself with fortifications. Its commercial activity was already great, and it is believed that its seamen visited the coast of Guinea in 1339, and founded there a Petit Dieppe in 1365. The town was occupied by the English from 1420 to 1435. A siege undertaken in 1442 by John Talbot, first earl of Shrewsbury, was raised by the dauphin, afterwards Louis XI., and the day of the deliverance continued for centuries to be celebrated by a great procession and miracle plays. In the beginning of the 16th century Jean Parmentier, a native of the town, made voyages to Brazil and Sumatra; and a little later its merchant prince, Jacques Ango, was able to blockade the Portuguese fleet in the Tagus. Francis I. began improvements which were continued under his successor. Its inhabitants in great number embraced the reformed religion; and they were among the first to acknowledge Henry IV., who fought one of his great battles at the neighbouring village of Arques. Few of the cities of France suffered more from the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685; and this blow was followed in 1694 by a terrible bombardment on the part of the English and Dutch. The town was rebuilt after the peace of Ryswick, but the decrease of its population and the deterioration of its port prevented the restoration of its commercial prosperity. During the 19th century it made rapid advances, partly owing to Marie Caroline, duchess of Berry, who brought it into fashion as a watering-place; and also because the establishment of railway communication with Paris gave an impetus to its trade. During the Franco-German War the town was occupied by the Germans from December 1870 till July 1871.

See L. Vitet, Histoire de Dieppe (Paris, 1844); D. Asseline, Les Antiquités et chroniques de la ville de Dieppe, a 17th-century account published at Paris in 1874.