Sunday, 25 August 2013

Church on Sunday...two for the price of one.

Back into the Vienne this Sunday to Coussay-les-Bois where I had been intrigued by the presence of two churches almost side by side. The one in the forefront of the above pic. is the church of Saint Martin with Notre Dame in the background.Why?...sorry but I still really don't know!

The church of Saint Martin,with its twisted steeple,which is now part of a private house (wonder if it's a 'Grand Design'?) has been around since the 12th century and was originally tied to the abbey at Preuilly before coming under the control of the Bishop of Poitiers. Although it was here first it was,I think, simply abandoned in the 19th century with Notre Dame being the favoured choice as the parish church. Apparently there are a number relatives of Cardinal Richelieu ('du Plessis') buried here. The local community have formed an association 'Friends of Saint Martin' so perhaps some time in the future we will learn more of its history. 

The Romanesque church of 'Notre Dame' has been the singular parish church since 1803 and from the above angle is rather imposing...

...but viewed from the other side, bears the scars of many modifications over the centuries. You can make out the old Romanesque portal with its capitals plus and the corbels that show the original height of the building. An extra level had been added during the 'Hundred Years War' to offer a place of refuge, apparently quite commonplace (?). The square tower is a bit of a mismatch of styles with blind portals and an 18th century addition to house the church bells.

As you enter the church you are met by a surprising sight - the nave is domed - apparently it is the only church in Poitou, along with that of Fontevraud, with this feature..

It also has the 'Latin Cross' basilica layout which is not obvious from the outside.

There are some good examples of stained glass in the church.

There are some interesting designs on the pillar capitals... a rather fetching WW1 memorial.

The baptismal font but no Joan!

Back outside there is an interesting 12th century carving above the windows

There is a 

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