In 1145, the Empress Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of Henry I of England and granddaughter of William the Conqueror, asked for an abbey dedicated to the Virgin to be built here. Legend has it that, she was traveling from England to France when her ship began to flounder during a terrible storm. She implored the Virgin to save her, vowing to erect a church wherever the ship landed safely. Sighting the coast, the captain of the ship reportedly told the queen, “Chante Reine, voici la terre!” (Queen sing, here is the earth!). Consequently, this area of land earned the name of Chantereyne which it is still called to this day. However, this story is not present in any chronicle of the time. According to local historian, Robert Lerouvillois, the name Chantereyne refers to the many frogs that croaked in the marshy area. The abbey was consecrated in 1181, fourteen years after Matilda's death and was named the “Abbey of the Vow.” Her son, Henry II (1133-1189), henceforth King of England and Duke of Normandy, continued the work undertaken by his mother. In 1532 the religious head of the abbey was replaced by a secular figure which began a period of decadence. The abbey could not maintain itself with a diminished income and gradually fell into ruin. In 1758, after the last English raid, the town authorities decided to change Cherbourg into a naval port, thus requiring the annexation of the abbey’s lands. By 1774 religious life at the abbey ceased to exist. From 1793 to 1866, the buildings were transformed into a hospital and eventually a military barracks. Until the dawn of the 20th century, the navy used the abbey as a store. The abbey has suffered many misfortunes. It was attacked several times during the Hundred Years War as well as being heavily damaged by the Germans during World War II. Listed as a historic monument since 1913, the site is currently under restoration. A number of archaeological finds were made there in 1994, in particular an exceptional gravestone for a priest from Querqueville named Guillaume Argène de Rai dating from 1280. A detailed survey of the site can be found here as a PDF file. The abbey is open by appointment only except during the summer months of July and August when it is open on Sundays at 14h30.