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  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.

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July 29 2014 3 29 /07 /July /2014 09:28

149 Château de Fontaine-Henry186 Château de Fontaine-Henry

After visiting the Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer, I drove to the town of Fontaine-Henry near Caen to take a tour of its most famous residence, the Château de Fontaine-Henry. The name of the town means "fountain of Henry" the old spelling of the name Henri, a possible reference to Henry de Tilly.

178 Château de Fontaine-Henry

The town was also known for it fountains and preponderance of wells, one of which can be seen just in front of the main doorway.  Château de Fontaine-Henry has belonged to the same family for nearly ten centuries without ever having been sold. Nevertheless, several names have succeeded in ownership because it has repeatedly been handed down by women. The families Tilly, d’Harcourt, de Morais, Boutier de Château d'Assy, de Montécler, de Marguerie, de Carbonnel, de Cornulier and d’Oilliamson have all come into ownership through inheritance. 157 Château de Fontaine-HenryThere was a fortress at this location at the beginning of the 11th century and the Tilly family replaced the old fortress between 1200 and 1220 with a new castle. All that survives from this period are the chapel and vaulted rooms that once formed the ground floor of the residential building. These two elements give a measure of the magnitude and importance of this château in the middle ages. In 1374 Jeanne de Tilly married Philippe d'Harcourt and brought him a dowry of a lordship or 'seigneurie'. 155 Château de Fontaine-HenryIt was the Harcourt family who began to rebuild the château after the Hundred Years War. The works were spread out over nearly a century, from the late 15th century to the 1560s. The château is still lived in by the descendents of its early owners, the comte and comtesse de Olliamson. The château has a very original kind of architectural harmony, making it a Renaissance masterpiece, following the examples of the Hôtel d'Escoville and the Hôtel de Than in Caen. On its west façade one can see the different styles of architecture used during its evolution--the west side being the most curious where there are a series of three levels of columns. 215 Château de Fontaine-HenryThis was done to create perspective and the illusion of height. 204 Château de Fontaine-HenryAbove one of the windows is an inscription dated precisely to 1537, the date of completion for this portion of the château. 177 Adam et Eve, Château de Fontaine-Henry177b Moses, Château de Fontaine-Henry177a Noah, Château de Fontaine-HenryThere are several Biblical features on this façade as well, the images of Adam and Eve, Moses and Noah. 203 Château de Fontaine-HenryAbove another window is the image of Charles VIII. I was most impressed by the quantity and quality of the stonework with its filigree patterns and decorative medallions.

179 Château de Fontaine-Henry180 Château de Fontaine-Henry

The details are amazing if you take the opportunity to study them—especially around the lower windows which have images of cherubs, birds and plant motifs. 182 Château de Fontaine-Henry181 Château de Fontaine-Henry184 Château de Fontaine-HenryThe château is more than 15 meters high and the roofs that cover the building are considered to be the highest in France. 214 Château de Fontaine-Henry208 Château de Fontaine-Henry209 Château de Fontaine-Henry210 Château de Fontaine-Henry211 Château de Fontaine-HenryWe weren’t allowed to take any photos inside except for in the main reception hall which used to be the kitchen. Here there are three large fireplaces. Above them are the coats of arms of the different families who have owned the house over the centuries. The chapel was founded in the 13th century and transformed in the 16th century. 151 Château de Fontaine-Henry158 Château de Fontaine-HenryThere is an image of a stag just above the main doorway which I think represents the fondness of hunting by one of the former owners who is it said killed 1000 stags in his lifetime. Good for him ? 163 Château de Fontaine-Henry161 Château de Fontaine-Henry160 Château de Fontaine-HenryGothic arches are featured along the sides and decorative capitals above the columns. It is open to the public and has an exhibition of religious art inside. 171 Château de Fontaine-Henry172 Château de Fontaine-HenryAt the back of the château is the entrance to the oldest part of the castle, the vaulted storage rooms. They are dark and damp. There is a good view of the back of the château from here as well.

173 Château de Fontaine-Henry

154 Château de Fontaine-Henry

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July 28 2014 2 28 /07 /July /2014 09:18

123 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer134 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer124 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

106 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer - Copy

088 Juno BeachHad some more beautiful weather last week so I drove out to Courseulles-sur-Mer to visit the museum at Juno Beach. 136 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerIf you don't know what that is, it's the beach where the Canadians landed during D-Day. 127 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerIt's hard to believe that 70 years ago over 14,000 men landed here and over 460 lost their lives fighting to liberate France.  089a Juno BeachRight on the beach is the museum which pays honor to all the Canadians who participated in the war effort.  Maybe its because I'm American but I wasn't wasn't that interested in going inside the museum like I was when it came to visiting the Utah Beach or Omaha Beach museums.  Still, I was glad that I got to make it here.  094 Juno Beach093 Juno Beach115 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerThe building itself, designed by Canadian architect Brian K. Chamberlain, is a single-storey structure with five main points, resembling a stylized maple leaf.  The exterior is clad in titanium scales and stands about 100 meters back from the present line of sand dunes. 102 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer104 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer101 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerA ceremonial area, which features a statue entitled Remembrance and Renewal, stands between the Centre and the dunes. 092 Juno Beach090 Juno Beach091 Juno BeachA gap in the dunes is filled by a symbolic structure shaped as a landing craft. An intact German bunker, once an observation post, stands immediately in front of this memorial.  125 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer126 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer128 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerRemnants of the Atlantic Wall remain strewn along the coast, including this half-sunk German gun emplacement. Naturally, such fortifications were deadly obstacles for those wading ashore. 135 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerThere were even some tetraheaders, pyramid shaped obstacles erected along the shore by the Germans who wanted to destroy any landing ships that happened to invade during high tide.  To the left of the museum are several monoliths whith plaques on them.  110 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer113 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerThis is known as the Commemorative Bricks area where doners and veterans can purchase an engraved plaque to be added to the monoliths.  Veteran Bricks include the person’s rank, name, decorations, unit, dates of service, as well as a comment regarding the veteran’s service, such as “Italian Campaign”, Battle of the Atlantic”, or “D-Day Veteran”.   Also, to the right of the museum is another memorial to those who fell on D-Day--several hundred posts hammered neatly in the sand with name plaques attached. 119 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-MerI guess if you can't make it to the cemetery this memorial is a welcome alternative. Nearby, I discovered a pile of stones called an Inuksuk--a symbol of survival among Canada's Inuit peoples. It stands as a guide denoting that humans have passed through that place. This particular Inuksuk was erected in 2005 in remembrance of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit who served Canada in the Second World War.

117 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

108 Centre Juno Beach, Courseulles-sur-Mer

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
July 23 2014 4 23 /07 /July /2014 08:53

188 Église Notre-Dame de Surville

While driving home, approaching the small town of Surville and the flat green earth of this low lying land all around me I could easily see in the distance this small church directly beside the road. What struck me first was the imposing bell tower which looked like a fortified keep. Like so many churches in the area, I assumed that it once served as a lookout tower for invaders from the sea. Inside, there is a lot of information about the liturgical furniture but little history about the origins of the church itself. I found some information online. It turns out that the original construction was built in the 13th and 14th centuries and served as a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Anne for the owners of the château. It became a church much later. I’d like to say a special thank you to Le Chevalier Dauphinois, a fellow over-blogger for his interesting insights on this place. 190a Église Notre-Dame de SurvilleThe painted wood of the main altar and its retable were actually built during the 19th century from a recycled 17th century altarpiece. At the center is a painting of the Resurrection of Christ and on either side are statues of the Virgin and Child as well as Saint John the Baptist. 194 Église Notre-Dame de Surville196 Église Notre-Dame de Surville192 Église Notre-Dame de SurvilleThere is another beautifully painted altar in the chapel dedicated to the Virgin. Statues resting on the altar are all depictions of the Virgin while the other three represent Sainte-Barbara, Sainte-Anne and Saint-Sébastien. 193 Église Notre-Dame de SurvilleThe baptismal font is made from marble from Montmartin and dates from the early 19th century. 198 Église Notre-Dame de SurvilleJust opposite is an early 19th century confessional. 195 Église Notre-Dame de SurvilleAlong the wall of the same chapel you can admire a carved limestone credenza from 1554 which has a special hole in the bottom of the receptacle for holy water to return to the foundations of the church. 202 Église Notre-Dame de SurvilleAcross the street from the church is the Château de Surville which can be rented out for receptions, weddings and conferences.

186 Château de Surville

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 30 2014 4 30 /04 /April /2014 10:21

P1000932 Landerneau

Landerneau is a small town in the Cornouaille along the Elorn River and is famous for its two churches as well as the Pont de Rohan. The Pont de Rohan was built in the 16th century. P1000923 LanderneauIt is lined with picturesque houses with overhanging upper storeys, one of the last inhabited European bridges. You can see that many of them are covered in slate. P1000924 LanderneauWhen I crossed it, I planned on finding a sandwich shop where I could buy my lunch--I was extremely hungry. Sadly, there were only sit-down restaurants and they were no longer receiving people for lunch since it was already past 2PM. Another restaurant was just serving fries and kebab dishes which I didn't really want. Instead of giving in to my hunger, I ended up getting frustrated and not buying anything. On an empty stomach, I quickly explored the town. P1000935 LanderneauP1000922 LanderneauP1000928 LanderneauOn the right bank of the river are many old houses such as the maison de la sénéchaussée built with stone from Logonna in 1664. The lower level now serves as the tourist office (closed when I was there). P1000926 LanderneauP1000927 LanderneauThe église de Saint-Thomas Becket de Canterbury is a 16th century church with a belfry porch with three superimposed balconies. Right next door is the ossuary chapel erected as an annex to the church in 1635. Back across the bridge, is the église St-Houardon with a beautiful granite porch from 1604. P1000931 LanderneauFeeling starved half to death, I was so glad to come upon a large bakery while driving out of town. I stopped and bought some sandwiches and drinks that I planned on eating when I reached my next destination for the day, the parish close of La Martyre.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 29 2014 3 29 /04 /April /2014 10:17

P1000876 Lampaul-Guimiliau

The parish close (enclos paroissial) is the most typical monumental grouping in Breton communities. The center of the close was the cemetery which was very small with gravestones of uniform size. Today this is tending to disappear. Around the cemetery, which is often reached through a triumphal arch, are grouped the church with its small square (placître), the Calvary and the ossuary or charnel house. The spiritual life of the parish therefore is closely linked with the community of the dead. The entrance to a cemetery is often ornamented with a monumental gateway. P1000879 Lampaul-GuimiliauThis is treated as a triumphal arch to symbolize the accession of the Just to immortality. At Lampaul-Guimiliau, the parish close is entered through the triumphal arch (1699) surmounted by three crosses as well as the statues of the Virgin Mary and Saint John. In the tiny Breton cemeteries of olden days, bodies had to be exhumed to make room for new dead. The bones were piled in small shelters with ventilation openings, built against the church or cemetery wall. The skulls were placed there separately in special "skull caskets". Then these charnel houses became separate buildings, larger and more carefully built and finally reliquaries, which could be used as funerary chapels. P1000849 Lampaul-GuimiliauAt Lampaul-Guimiliau the funerary chapel, a former ossuary (1667), abuts on the triumphal arch and has buttresses crowned with small lantern turrets. Formerly it also housed a notable tableau of the Entombment of Christ, which has now been moved into the church itself. Calvary is the name of the hill, also known as Golgotha, where Christ was crucified; its name was inspired by its skull-like shape (Skull; calvaria in Latin). Breton Calvaries representing scenes from the Passion and the Crucifixion are not to be confused with wayside crosses often erected at crossroads or near churches to mark the site of a pilgrimage procession. P1000847 Lampaul-GuimiliauThe unique Breton monuments illustrate episodes of the Passion, represented around Christ on the Cross. Many of them were built to ward off, as in 1598, a plague epidemic, or to give thanks after it ended. The priest preached from the dais, pointing out with a wand the scenes which he described to his congregation. The sculpture is usually rough and naïve—the work of a village stonemason—but it shows a great deal of observation and is often strikingly lifelike and expressive. Many figures, notably soldiers, wear the costumes of the 16th and 17th centuries. P1000852 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000881 Lampaul-GuimiliauThe Calvary at Lampaul-Guimiliau is the oldest in the parish close from the 15th century and features the Crucifixion on one side and the Descent from the Cross on the other. P1000851 Lampaul-GuimiliauThe church is dominated by a bell tower, constructed from 1573, and was originally one of the highest in Finistère. P1000877 Lampaul-GuimiliauHowever it was truncated by fire following a lightning strike in 1809. Under a gable of the porch is a statue of Saint Michael defeating the Dragon. P1000855 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000882 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000856 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000857 Lampaul-GuimiliauThe porch itself dates from 1533 and like many other churches in the area displays the twelve Apostles. Inside, a 16th century rood beam spans the nave, bearing a crucifix between statues of the Virgin and Saint John. P1000861 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000867 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000862 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000869 Lampaul-GuimiliauBoth sides of the rood beam are adorned painted reliefs representing on the nave side, scenes from the Passion and, on the chancel side, the twelve Sibyls separated by a group of the Annunciation. P1000873 Lampaul-GuimiliauThere are several altarpieces throughout the church including this one of Saint John the Baptist. P1000859 Lampaul-GuimiliauP1000858 Lampaul-GuimiliauThe baptistery is one of the most striking among the parish closes. It is an octagonal Baroque concoction, dating from about 1650. Unlike most of its kind, it is elaborately polychrome, with highly-elaborate pillars and finely-modelled representation of the baptism of Christ. P1000860 Lampaul-GuimiliauThis is the organ and it dates from the 17th century.  P1000865 Lampaul-GuimiliauOne of the most touching sculptures inside the church is that of the Deposition or Descent from the Cross (15th or 16th century). The Entombment tableau from 1676, by Antoine Chavagnac, shows Christ attended by Joseph of Arimathea, Salome, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary supported by St John the Apostle, and Mary the Mother of James. P1000872 Lampaul-GuimiliauThe figures used to be in the funeral chapel next to the triumphal arch.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 28 2014 2 28 /04 /April /2014 14:26

P1000835 Guimiliau (2)

Next stop on my drive through Brittany was Guimiliau. Guimiliau is named after its patron saint and founder, Saint Miliau, a good and pious prince, descendant of the ancient kings of Britain. Beheaded in 792 on the orders of his brother, he is invoked for healing ulcers and rheumatism. P1000836 GuimiliauThe fame of the small village is due to its remarkable parish close of the 16th century and to the magnificently ornamented interior. P1000805 GuimiliauEntrance into the parish close is through its triumphal arch which is surmounted with a statue of the Virgin and Child. Beside them are two knights on horseback who act as watchmen. P1000807 GuimiliauThe Calvary, the most curious and one of the largest in the region, dates from 1581-8 and includes over 200 figures. P1000809 GuimiliauP1000811 GuimiliauP1000812 GuimiliauP1000833 GuimiliauP1000831 GuimiliauP1000832 GuimiliauOn the upper part stands a large cross with a thorny shaft bearing four statues; the Virgin and Saint John, Saint Peter and Saint Yves. On the platform are 17 scenes from the Passion and the Last Supper as well as a composition representing the famous Breton legend of Katell Gollet. Katell Gollet was a 16-year-old girl who lived only for pleasure and debauchery. She collected many lovers and one day, one of the men asked her to steal the host from the church sanctuary. Because she wanted to please him, she satisfied his request only to find out later that the man was actually Satan in disguise. This is the reason she is condemned to Hell for all eternity. P1000813 GuimiliauUpon entering the church, it is hard to miss the polychrome statues of the twelve apostles: P1000830 GuimiliauOn the right of the porch: Saint Peter with his key, Saint James the Major with his pilgrim hat and shell, Saint John shaven and holding a chalice, Saint Andrew with his cross, Saint Matthew carrying a book, Saint James the Minor with a stick bent at the base. P1000829 GuimiliauAnd on the left of the porch: Saint Philip with a Latin cross in his hands, Saint Bartholomew holding a knife, Saint Simon with a saw, Saint Jude with a palm, Saint Matthias with a hatchet and Saint Thomas with a square. To the left of the entrance is a fine carved oak baptistery dating from 1675. P1000816 GuimiliauP1000817 GuimiliauIt is quite a marvel of carved oak with lavish and varied scenery depicting garlands, rosettes and patterns of all kinds. On the six twisted columns are birds, snails, snakes, wild berries and grape vines. P1000818 GuimiliauThe interior has two naves with ceilings shaped like the keels of upturned ships as well as five different chapels. P1000827 GuimiliauEach portion of the roof is held in place with finely carved and painted beams from the 16th and 17th centuries. P1000819 GuimiliauThis is the Chapel of the Holy Rosary and features statues of the Virgin, Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena surrounded by other statues of Saint Nicolas, Saint Zachary and God the Father. P1000825 GuimiliauNear the main altar is the altarpiece to Saint-Miliau representing scenes from his life including images of him without his head and his wife supporting him. P1000826 GuimiliauBeside this is the colourful altarpiece to Saint Joseph on which can be seen Saint Yves, the patron saint of barristers between a rich man and a poor one, and the blind Saint Hervé with his wolf that serves as his guide. P1000822 GuimiliauThe beautifully carved pulpit is from 1677. Studied closely it offers unexpected subtleties of sculpture that include four plump Sibyls and three caryatids supporting the panels covered with medallions. P1000824 GuimiliauIn the organ loft are three 17th century low-relief sculptures that include David playing the harp, Saint Cecilia at the organ and opposite the baptistery, the Triumph of Alexander.  Before leaving, don't miss the ossuary or funeral chapel that dates from 1648.  It is in the Renaissance style and has an outdoor pulpit set in one of the windows.P1000808 Guimiliau

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 28 2014 2 28 /04 /April /2014 10:48

P1000839 Landivisiau

The town of Landivisiau wasn’t very interesting nor was it a part of my tour except as a place for me to stop and find a restroom. Of note however was the parish church, l'église Saint-Thuriau which was built in the 1860s and replaces a church that was on the same site dating from 1554. The church still retains its south porch and tower from the 16th century. P1000842 LandivisiauP1000843 LandivisiauThe building is quite interesting for its statues in the south porch of the twelve apostles (1554 – 1565) carved in a special granite from the region known as kersantite. P1000841 LandivisiauP1000845 LandivisiauSome of the statues carved alongside the columns depict local saints as well as the images of Adam and Eve as they eat from the Tree of Knowledge.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 27 2014 1 27 /04 /April /2014 11:53

P1000804 Saint-Thégonnec

It almost feels like I will never get caught up on all the articles I wish to write about the places I’ve visited in France. I guess I will just keep posting until I run out of photos. Last summer (yes, it’s been that long), I went on several trips to Brittany and Finistère. Some of the most popular attractions in the region are the enclos paroissiaux or parish church yards with their impressive churches embellished with sculpture and decoration of Catholic iconography, mostly Baroque in style. P1000777 Saint-ThégonnecP1000781 Saint-ThégonnecP1000782 Saint-ThégonnecThe enclos paroissial, also known as a parish close, is an enclosed area around the parish church which usually includes a ceremonial arch, a cemetery, an ossuary or charnel house, and a Calvary. The Calvaries are significant works of popular art. Usually they display three crucified figures: Christ and the two thieves. At the base, they may feature relief panels, free-standing sculptural groups or both. The onlookers of the crucifixion nearly always include the Virgin Mary and St. John the Apostle, but also many other heroes and villains. P1000780 Saint-ThégonnecThe first parish close that I stopped to visit was that of the Église Notre-Dame de Saint-Thégonnec. It features a large ceremonial entrance arch which stresses the importance of the parish close as a focus for local pilgrimages and annual pardons. The parishs close of St. Thégonnec was built between the 14th and 18th centuries and is one of the most visited monuments in Finistère. It is circled by a wall which includes a triumphal arch, an impressive Calvary as well as an ossuary. P1000778 Saint-ThégonnecP1000784 Saint-ThégonnecThe Calvary, erected in 1610, is one of the most magnificent in all of Brittany adorned with many statues depicting the Passion of Christ. Below it is a small niche which shelters St-Thégonnec with the wolf he harnessed to his cart after his donkey had been devoured by wolves. The funeral chapel and ossuary were built from 1676 to 1682. Inside is a 17th century altarpiece with spiral columns. In the crypt, under the altar is a mise au tombeau (Holy Sepulchre) with figures carved in oak and painted (1699 – 1702), the work of a Breton sculptor, Jacques Lespaignol. The architecture of the church is rather plain, but it is richly decorated with altarpieces, altars, statues, stained glass and paintings. It has been remodelled several times. The only trace of the old building is the gable belfry (1563) on the left of the tower. The Renaissance tower is crowned with a dome with a lantern and corner turrets. A fire in June 1998 caused the roof to collapse and severely damaged the five chapels on the north side. Ten fire companies and local volunteers were able to keep the flames from damaging the rood screens, the windows, the organ and the pulpit. P1000793 Saint-ThégonnecThe pulpit (1683) is one of the masterpieces of Breton sculpture. The corners are adorned with the four Cardinal Virtues, while the Evangelists are depicted on the four panels. On the medallion at the back, God is giving the Tablets of the Law to Moses. The sounding board (1732) decorated with angels and roses, is surmounted by the Angel of Judgement blowing a trumpet. The apse as well as both arms of the transept are covered with restored woodwork dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The main altarpiece is dedicated to St-Joseph. The most impressive altar however is that of the Rosary. P1000790 Saint-ThégonnecP1000792 Saint-ThégonnecThe panels of the Rosary altarpiece represent, below and in the center, the Virgin and Child, Jesus giving a rosary to St-Dominic and Ste-Catherine; above, the Virgin and St-Lawrence give Christ a soul saved from the flames of Purgatory. To the left of the Rosary altar is that of Notre-Dame du Vrai Secours from 1640 and on the right is a triptych of St- Thégonnec. P1000791 Saint-ThégonnecP1000789 Saint-ThégonnecAbove the entrance porch is a niche that features the Virgin of the Apocalypse framed by a Tree of Jesse which depicts the royal ancestors of Christ. The flaps on either side are decorated with the Joyous Mysteries from the Rosary.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 21 2014 2 21 /04 /April /2014 08:59

615 Jumièges513 Jumièges

Sunday was my last day in Haute Normandie and I still had a few places I needed to visit.  Fortunately, there wasn't any fog and I was able to get some nice photos of our chamber d’hôte Au temps des cerises which was surrouned by orchards of fruit trees in blossom.  521 Au temps des cerises, Jumièges519 JumiègesLike many buildings in the region, it was an old timber framed barn at one time.  504 JumiègesOur first stop this moring was the Abbaye de Jumièges, one of the most impressive ruins in France. In the 10th century, Duke William Longsword rebuilt Jumièges on the ruins of the former abbey founded in the 7th century by Saint Philibert and destroyed by the Vikings. 537 Jumièges542 JumiègesIt was renowned especially for its charity to the poor, being popularly called "Jumièges l'Aumônier". Enjoying the patronage of the dukes of Normandy, the abbey became a great center of religion and learning, its schools producing, amongst many other scholars, the national historian, William of Jumièges. The large abbey was consecrated in 1067 in the presence of William the Conqueror. The last monks dispersed at the Revolution and in 1793 it was bought at a public auction by a timber merchant who intended to turn Jumièges into a stone quarry and used explosives to bring down the lantern in the church. 525 Jumièges533 JumiègesA new proprietor in 1852 set about saving the ruins and in 1946 the complex was purchased by the State. Like many religious monuments, the abbey has been subjected to a great many modifications and reconstructions. Having become “the most beautiful ruin in France” according to many 19th century authors, it today offers us an interesting lesson in architecture. 512 Jumièges544a Jumièges545 JumiègesOne enters the property through the 14th century gatehouse. The interior presents beautiful Gothic architecture with sculpted keystones. Looking up, one can see on one of them--the medieval green man mask. Today, the building houses a reception room, exhibition hall as well as the souvenir shop. 548 JumiègesThe Notre-Dame Abbey Church is the main church of the abbey. It hosted members of the religious order and the laity during the major religious festivals. An exceptional example of 11th century Normandy Romanesque art, it is built on a particularly grand scale; the two towers are 46 meters high, the nave 25 meters high. 549 JumiègesThe façade is remarkable for its austerity. It is a rare example of a projecting structure between two towers. 554 Jumièges553 Jumièges555 JumiègesThe nave is visible as soon as you enter and is quite spectacular to look at with its white walls divided into three different levels: arcades, triple openings and tall windows. 560 Jumièges562 JumiègesThe Romanesque capital with the bird in the transept is from the 11th century and has two sides. 563 JumiègesIt is fitted tightly into pillar which was added later and is recognizable by its original ochre color. 558 Jumièges565 JumiègesNot much remains of the choir which was rebuilt in the 13th century. It is the part of the church where the clergy stood and where services were held. Of the seven radiating chapels arranged around the choir, only one is conserved. 569 Jumièges571 Jumièges572 Jumièges573 JumiègesThis portion of the site is known as the Saint Pierre Church. It is here that one can see the oldest vestiges of the abbey such as the series of six medallions surmounted by small gemel windows and a half-length portrait of a man. 575 Jumièges - Copy576 JumiègesThese decorations are the only traces of the monastery that was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th century. 578 Jumièges580 JumiègesThe cloister was used for walking and meditation. It has lost its gallery passageway and its Renaissance decoration from 1530. The refectory which closed off one of the sides of the cloister has been entirely destroyed. The former hospice, converted into a storeroom, was given an upper floor in the 17th century to house the library. Within the park surrounding the abbey are other structures and buildings. 588 Jumièges586 Jumièges593 JumiègesThe abbot’s residence was built around 1675. Near its main gate are two large outbuildings which haven’t changed since they were built. 594 Jumièges595 Jumièges606 Jumièges598 Jumièges602 JumiègesThe interior of the abbot’s lodging serves as a museum for the collection of sculptures which came from the abbey including busts from statues, reclining figures, old capitals and keystones. The gardens surrounding the abbey offer some wonderful strolls among remarkable tree and plant specimens as well as amazing views of the abbey itself from the main terrace where several works by contemporary artists are on display in an open air exhibition. 616 Jumièges621 Mandala oublié Labyrinthe de méditation--Shigeko Hirakawa, Jumièges619 Mandala oublié Labyrinthe de méditation--Shigeko Hirakawa, JumiègesMy favorite was this piece by Shigeko Hirakawa entitled Mandala oublié - Labyrinthe de meditation. Nearby is the former bakery which still stands at the far end of the park and is today used for exhibitions.

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
April 19 2014 7 19 /04 /April /2014 08:20

448 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin

445a Le Bec-Hellouin478 Le Bec-Hellouin484 Le Bec-Hellouin492 Le Bec-Hellouin493 Le Bec-Hellouin

It is a pleasure to walk in the village of Le Bec-Hellouin admiring quiet and flowery streets with half-timbered houses. The peaceful atmosphere, terraces and small squares are deserving of a short stroll…certainly, the walking tour is pretty fast and one’s footsteps are quickly directed toward the entrance of the abbey and its gardens. 469 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin471 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-HellouinThe abbey was founded in 1034 by Herluin, a knight from the court of count Gilbert de Brionne. Its pious reputation attracted an Italian scholar, Lanfranc of Pavia who was already famous for his lectures at Avranches, and came to teach as prior and master of the monastic school. He left in 1062 to become abbot of St. Stephen's Abbey in Caen, and later became the Archbishop of Canterbury. 451 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin453 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin455 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-HellouinHe was followed as abbot by Anselm, also later an Archbishop of Canterbury, as was the fifth abbot, Theobald of Bec. Many distinguished ecclesiastics, including the future Pope Alexander II and Saint Ivo of Chartres, were educated in the school at Bec. In the 17th century, Bec rose to new eminence under Guillaume de la Tremblaye (1644 – 1715), one of the greatest sculptors and architects of his period. The monks were driven out during the Revolution and the church, one of the biggest in Christendom, was demolished under the empire. 458 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin461 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin464 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin467 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-HellouinIn 1948 the site was restored to the Benedictine Order. The new abbey church stands in the former Maurist refectory. Abbaye du Bec-HellouinAt the entrance is the 14th century statue of the Virgin as well as four Fathers of the Church from the 15th century. I didn’t make it to the abbey in time to take one of their guided tours so I missed seeing the cloisters built in 1640 and modelled on those of Monte Cassino in Italy. Oh well—just walking around the lush gardens surrounding the abbey was enough to make me want to stay and become a novitiate. 457 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-HellouinThe most prominent piece of architecture within the abbey walls is the Tour Saint-Nicholas which was originally built between 1644 and 1666 and overlooks all of the other monastic buildings. It was originally used as a bell tower so that the four large bells of the abbey would not shake the portal of the church when they sounded. Sadly, these bells were destroyed during the Revolution. Up until 1810 the tower had a spire fifteen meters high which was destroyed by fire. The interior is now closed to the public.  485 Le Bec-Hellouin486 Le Bec-Hellouin487 Le Bec-HellouinThe abbey is not only surrounded by lovely half-timbered houses but a pleasant number of farmers fields and countless fruit orchards covered in pink and white blossoms.

474 Abbaye Notre-Dame du Bec-Hellouin479 Le Bec-Hellouin482 Le Bec-Hellouin

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture