This is what we found:
The scale is huge -- originally the walls encircled a complex 2 hectares in size [about 5 acres]. It was the heart of a large agricultural estate as well as the place where tithes and 'terrage' [dues paid in kind] were brought to the monks. According to the Marmoutier Abbey chronicles the barn, portico, dovecote and walls were built between 1220 and 1227. However, there already had been a priory on the site from the 11th century.
|delicate finials on the gatehouse roof|
We have yet to see the tithe barn. The complex, still in private hands, is closed to the public out of season. From Easter to the end of October you can visit it at weekends [afternoons only]. If the barn and rest of the complex is anything as good as the gatehouse it will be superb and we're looking forward to seeing it!
To the left of the gatehouse, mounted on the wall was a silhouette portrait made of metal.
Up close it looks rather like Marlon Brando don't you think?
It is, however, a portrait of Sviatoslav Richter, a 20th century concert pianist [1915-97] who founded an annual music festival at Meslay. The festival, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year is held every June. You can check out the 2014 program here.