|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