Wednesday 21 September 2011

Journées de patrimoine

Current private residence, Chartreuse du Liget
Last weekend historic monuments all over France -- both public and privately owned held their annual open days: 'Journées de patrimoine'.

Henry Plantagenet, Count of Anjou and later King Henry II of England was, in his time, a busy little bee in our corner of France. Henry is probably best known for: marrying Eleanor of Aquitaine, ex-queen of France; being the father of Richard the Lionheart; and the instigator, intentionally or otherwise, of the murder of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in front of the altar in the Cathedral.

entrance, with St Bruno, founder of the order
Tradition has it that 'La Chartreuse du Liget' at the edge of the forest of Loches, was - one of a number - founded by Henry in penance when threatened by the Pope with excommunication for his involvement in the murder. The official royal charter of this Carthusian monastery, or charterhouse dates from 1178 [Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170]. However, Henry had already purchased Liget Woods in 1153, well before the assassination, and given it to Villeloin so that a group of monks could set up a small community there.

Now in private hands it was, once, extremely wealthy and influential. Hosting the visits of a number of French medieval kings led to valuable privileges. 

back of entrance gate
 Carthusians were an enclosed order. Monks lived individually in small cells which lined a courtyard. They had the absolute minimum contact with the outside world coming together only for the religious services of the day and for dinner on Sunday.  Each cell even had a small hatch through which the monks' meals were served so that their prayers and contemplation times were not disturbed by lay brothers. These did all the manual work such as growing the food, cooking and generally running the charterhouse.  

The lay brothers lived separately away from the charterhouse proper in what was known as the "maison basse". At Chartreuse du Liget the laybrother's house is a couple of hundred meters down the road and is known as the 'La Corroirie'.

Not much of the medieval Chartreuse du Liget remains as it was sold as a nationalised building in 1792 after the French Revolution. The location and later buildings are, however, charming. 

La Corroirie: lay brothers house down the road
On the day we were greeted by three very helpful children, presumably from  families with connections to this, now private, property. Not sure what the Carthusians of old would have made of this...


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
How wonderful to have taken the opportunity of the Open Day to see this marvellous historical property. It is so exciting to see places which are not usually open to the public and yet are so important from a historical perspective. And, how delightful to have had young children for guides. As you say, the new order of things seems to be very different from the old!!!

GaynorB said...

Thanks for the history lesson. You've probably doubled what i know in one fell post!
One day we will be in France to take advantage of one of these open days .....:o)

GaynorB said...

I not i!
I really must proof read.
I really must proof read.
I real .......

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - the children were lovely--they had a small stand with info leaflets and even some home made honey for sale.
For the rest you could potter about on your own.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Gaynor--
LOL!! how about a lesson trade ;-)

Think the open days are a European thing. They had them in the Netherlands too at about this time of year.

{you have no idea how carefully I try and proof read everything before it goes out}

ladybird said...

We drove past this beautiful spot last year, but din't have time to stop and visit. Is it open to the public all year round or only during the annual 'Journée du Patrimoine'? Martine

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Martine - You can't just walk in as it's private property/residences. There's a small sign indicating this inside the gate. I think you can ring a bell and request permission to look round.

About Paris said...

Hi, Was doing the same thing myself check out ,will link to your post if that's ok?

About Paris said...

sorry should have read

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Jim - welcome! Sure no problem, link away :-).

About Paris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
About Paris said...

Link here
Plus have added link to your blog - any chance of reciprocal link?


Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jim-- have added a link to our most recent post on the Chapelle du Liget.