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L'Hôtel de la Couronne

From the Hôtel de la Couronne to the Musée de l’imprimerie et de la communication graphique


The Hôtel de la Couronne in a few dates

Built in the middle of the 15th century, it was a private residence at the time. The first written record in the archives dates from 1493, the priory (monastery) of Charlieu being then cited as the owner of the "Maison de la Couronne". The building then belonged successively to the families of Varey, Faye and Thou, all major merchant families from Lyon.

The provost of the merchants (comparable to a current mayor) and the aldermen (equivalent to the municipal councilors of today) acquired it in 1604, in order to install the Town Hall there. The first was then located at 3, rue de la Fromagerie nearby, but it was becoming too cramped.

This new common house houses the police and health offices; preparations for royal visits are also organized there, such as that of Louis XIII in 1622.

On March 12, 1643, the famous vow to Notre Dame was written there: the plague was threatening and the aldermen asked for protection from the Virgin by making a vow to go... "all the feasts of the nativity of the Virgin, which is the eighth day of September, without dresses, nevertheless with their ordinary clothes, in the chapel of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, to hear holy mass there, to make their prayers and devotions to the said Virgin, and to offer her, in the form of homage and gratitude, the quantity of seven pounds of white wax in candles and torches, and a golden crown in the sun. And this to dispose the said Virgin to receive the city of Lyon into her special protection.

The Hôtel de la Couronne, which in turn had become too small, was sold in 1646 to the town architect Simon Maupin, to whom we owe the plans for the new and much larger Town Hall, located on Place des Terreaux. .
The consulate of the aldermen leaves the rue de la Poulaillerie in 1654.

Little information remains from this period until the 19th century.

We do know, however, that a printer moved into the courtyard.

Some improvements were made in 1860 following the opening of rue de l’Impératrice (now rue Edouard Herriot). Crédit Lyonnais moved to this urban block in 1863 and filed its archives in the Hôtel de la Couronne.
He sold the building to the City of Lyon in 1956, and work was then carried out with a view to opening a museum.

This is how Mayor Louis Pradel inaugurated the Banking Museum, on the occasion of the centenary of Crédit Lyonnais (1963).

A year later, in 1964, the Printing and Banking Museum was opened to the public, run until 1975 by Maurice Audin, master printer and specialist in printing from Lyon, with the help of of André Jammes, bookseller of old Parisians and Henri-Jean Martin, chief curator of the libraries of Lyon.
The creation of such a museum in Lyon was justified by the importance of the city as a center for the production and trade of books in the 15th and 19th centuries.

The collections concerning the bank having remained very modest, the Bank room was removed in the 1990s.

The designation “Musée de France” was awarded in 2005.

Façade du Musée
© Muriel Chaulet


Cour intérieure du Musée
Entrance to the Hôtel de la Couronne at the beginning of the 20th century


Escalier à vis
© Muriel Chaulet

The building, architecture and decoration

The whole is organized between the rue des Forces (former scissors for shearing the sheet), connected by a traboule to the rue de la Poulaillerie (poultry, or, more precisely, chickens were exchanged there, until the middle of the 19th century), formerly named rue Maudicte (thus, on the 1550 map) in memory of the draper merchant Pierre Valdo, who preached the Vaudois faith, considered heretical.

The Museum is located near the historic district of Lyon printers (around rue Mercière, from the 15th century) and, since 1998, within the area classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, in a very dense urban fabric, the Museum being itself installed in two adjoining buildings around the courtyard.

"This building, located between the rue des Forces and the rue de la Poulaillerie, contained "five bodies of a hostel with two courtyards, a garden enclosed by high walls, stables, and fenières", its main exit was on the rue de la Poulaillerie . The remains of this building are still worthy of fixing the attention of the curious, not only as material evidence, the only one remaining, of a municipal residence, but as an increasingly rare specimen of private architecture of the late of the fifteenth century”. This is how Vital de Valous describes the complex in his book Les Anciens Hôtels de Ville ou Maisons Communes de Lyon, published in 1862.

The building still presents today an aisle with a vault intersecting beautiful ribs, a courtyard with oval galleries supported by two arches, a tower sheltering a spiral staircase lit by mullioned windows and surmounted by a polygonal roof. More recent is the entrance gate, decorated with block letters.

On a wall of the courtyard, a work by the sculptor Philippe Lalyame (17th century) presents lions and the figures of the Rhône and the Saône on a broken pediment. In the center, a Latin inscription engraved on stone reminds us that the city consulate held an assembly here from 1604.

In 1611, the Claudian Tables were installed in the courtyard; they correspond to a bronze plate in two fragments found in 1528 on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse, and presenting the text of the speech of the Emperor Claudius (native of Lugdunum) in 48: he pronounces there for the admission of the Gauls in the Roman Senate. Engraved in Lyon, this plaque was exhibited in the Trois Gaules sanctuary. Once found, it was first placed in the Maison de Ville rue de la Fromagerie, then here in the courtyard, then at the Hôtel de Ville des Terreaux, before being definitively deposited in the Gallo-Roman museum of Fourvière. . It is a copy that is now visible in the Cour Maurice Scève (circa 1501-1570), named in honor of the leader of the Lyon school of poetry.

Reproduction of Claudian tables
Tables Claudiennes
Reproduction of the Claudian tables


Cour interieure