“Au noble Pays de Caux
Y a quatre Abbayes royaux,
Six Prieures conventionaux,
Et six Barons de grand arroi,
Quatre Comtes, trois Ducs, un Roi.”
The soil of the district is generally rich; but the farmers frequently suffer from drought, especially in its western part, where they are obliged almost constantly to have recourse to artifical irrigation. The houses and villages are all surrounded with hedges, thickly planted, and each village is also belted in the same manner. These inclosures, which are peculiar to the Pays de Caux, give a monotonous appearance to the landscape, but they are highly beneficial, for they break the force of the winds, and furnish the inhabitants with fuel. If my memory does not deceive me, the towns either of the ancient Gauls or Teutons, are described as being thus encompassed in primitive times; but I cannot name my authorities for the assertion.
St. Vallery, the first stage beyond Dieppe, is situated in a valley; and there is an obscure tradition that this valley was once watered by a river, which disappeared some centuries ago. It is conjectured, from the name of the town, that it claims an origin as high as the seventh century, when the disciples of St. Vallery were obliged to quit their original monastery and take refuge elsewhere. Yet, according to other authorities, it did not receive its present appellation till 1197, when Richard Coeur de Lion, after having destroyed the town and abbey of St. Vallery sur Somme, carried off the relics of the patron saint, and deposited them in this town. My reporters tell me that it has an air of antiquity and gloom, but that it contains nothing worthy of notice except a crucifix in the churchyard, of stone, richly wrought, dated 1575, and a benitier of such simple form and rude workmanship, as to appear of considerable antiquity. The place itself is only a wretched residence for four or five thousand fishermen; but still it has a name in history. Hence William sailed for the conquest of England; and its harbor, all poor and small as it is, has always been considered of importance to the country; there being no other between Havre and Dieppe capable of affording shelter to vessels of even a moderate size.