Friday, 28 September 2012

If it's Wednesday, it must be Poitiers

Since the start of September regular followers of our blog may have noticed that we are not posting quite as frequently. Real life has intruded, albeit in a nice way. This semester there are more teaching committments away from home. On Wednesdays this means leaving at a rather ungodly hour to get to Poitiers for an 8:15am seminar start.

4th century Baptistry of St Jean, Poitiers
On the plus side this means an opportunity to explore the city of Poiters once teaching has finished; and there is plenty to explore! Numerous medieval churches, as well as secular buildings of note. Poitiers is an old city and is Eleanor of Acquitaine's home town. One of it's claims is having the oldest ecclesiastical building in France, the 4th century Baptistry of St Jean.
Interior, church of Ste Radegonde, Poitiers
One of the other jewels of Poitiers is the lovely church of Ste Radegonde, which still houses her 6th century tomb. She lies the crypt, which is located directly under the high altar. Interestingly, she was not disturbed at the time of the Revolution. She escaped the usual ravages as [according to the literature supplied] she had been a queen of France as well as a saint and thus was still held in respect.  
Quite a crowd at the chapel of Ste Radegonde, Chinon: journées du partimoine
Recently during the Journées du Patrimoine we also visited a chapel dedicated to the same lady in Chinon. Built into the cliff face it extends quite a way into the rock. Double naved, the outer nave lost its roof and suffered during the Revolution; the inner one remaining in a better condition. It has been a place of Christian worship since the 6th century. Before that it was a site of pagan worship due to the well dug deep into the rock at the back. The chapel was interesting to us as it contains a 12th century wall painting of a noble party out hunting. It shows two crowned figures, one male and one female, as well as attendants; one with a hunting bird on his wrist.
Chapel of Ste Radegonde, Chinon: Eleanor and party out hunting
It is held to be an image of Eleanor of Acquitaine and either her husband Henry Curtmantle [Henry II of England] or their son Henry the Younger. He was crowned during his father's lifetime, although he died before his father and so never actually ruled as King.

As Poitiers has many fine examples of Romanesque, later medieval and Renaissance architecture, more 'Wednesdays in Poitiers' will definitely follow!

22 comments:

the fly in the web said...

Ste. Radegonde des Pommiers in the Deux Sevres is named for the queen...and here's a link to the commune's website re the legend of the queen hding in the apple orchards.
http://ville-sainte-radegonde.fr/wa_files/La_20croix_20et_20_20le_20champ_20des_20etoiles.pdf

While here (I hope) is a link to a local blog showing what the professionals in communication and art made of it.
L'art a deux balles....
http://sapristibalthazar.over-blog.com/article-land-art-ou-art-lent-110327103.html

The Broad said...

Poitiers has long been on my list of French cities I must visit and Eleanor of Aquitaine one of those historical figures who has particularly interested me. So thank you very much for a very interesting post.

chm said...

I’ve been to Poitiers several times, but never long enough to enjoy all the treasures there to see. I wanted to see Sainte-Radegonde since she was brought up in a palace near Péronne, where my paternal family comes from. As usual, the church was closed!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - thanks will check both these sites out. There's a lovely set of medieval windows in Poitiers which depicts her life. We've got a set of bookmark postcards of them which we'll scan in. If the quality is good enough we'll post them.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - we'd never been to Poitiers either until now. The last couple of weeks we've spent quite a bit of time saying "can't understand why we didn't visit this place earlier" to each other!

If you have time it is really worth it. We will post more of Poitiers...

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Chm - good to hear from you. What a shame it was closed as it is a lovely building.
Interesting that she was brought up near Peronne. The WWI museum in the old fort at Peronne is excellent. Used to take students from the Inter'l School Maastricht there as part of a study trip on WWI.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Niall and Antoinette:
Well, the silver lining of the increased teaching commitment does seem to be your freedom to roam in Poitiers. And, as you say, it is a richly interesting city with plenty to explore. We shall be looking forward to these 'Wednesday Walkabouts'....no gain without pain as they say!!

GaynorB said...

Hi Niall and Antoinette,

We've never visited the centre of Poitiers either. We've been through, past, and round Poitiers many times and apart from Futuroscope haven't ever stopped.

We'll visit soon, but will wait for a few more of your 'Wednesday Walkabouts'...

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

Despite the early start how lovely to be able to have a wander and share with us. :)

Shona In Scotland said...

Honestly - what is it with you two and ruins? As I always say when trailed from one historic wreck to another, "it'll be nice when it's finished".

Your loving sister

Shona

Jean said...

We have enjoyed our visits to Poitiers so far and would love to explore much more. We also visited the chapel in Chinon a few years ago and found it fascinating.

Thanks for an interesting post and we look forward to more Wednesdays !! (Shame it begins at "sparrowf..t" for you !!)

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Thanks for this post - Poitiers and Chinon bring back lovely memories for us.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jane & Lance - as long as we keep this lovely autumnal weather we'll continue exploring Poitiers. It is a nice 'reward' for leaving in the pitch dark.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Gaynor - it's a nice lively place because of the students so that makes a good combo with its historical buildings.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@LindyLou - the teaching is really enjoyable [and rewarding] but the pottering about is definitely the 'icing on the cake'.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Shona - LOL! well you know .. "ruins are us" :-D must be a genetic mutation!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - it's even pre-'sparrowf..t'
It's pitch black and all the stars are still shining bright....

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Leon & Sue - you're welcome. We've definitely fallen in love with Poitiers --old as well as new-- there are some great shops too.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We really must see Potiers some time, we have driven by so many times but never stopped off. Your photos are excellent. Have a good week. Diane

Perpetua said...

I can see I'm going to enjoy your Wednesdays in Poitiers. :-) Lovely photos, especially the stunning wall painting.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Diane - we did the same when we used to come to France on holiday.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Perpetua - there will be more from Poitiers :-)