Saturday 26 February 2011

Priory & pigeonnier

From our house the most direct, but not the fastest, route to Tours is the D50 via Le Petit Pressigny, Ligueil, Menthelan and Veigné. If you take this route you pass through Le Louroux.
The village has a wonderful lake and a priory. We used this route recently and as we weren't in a hurry we re-visited the priory--we'd seen it many years ago. The lake was, once upon a time, the priory's stewpond:- making sure the monks had a plentiful supply of fish to eat all year round.  
Le Louroux: pigeonnier, calvaire and priory
Although it is an historic monument you can just wander in. It is in the process of being restored with the support of EU funding. There wasn't a soul about. 

15th cent: lodging on left, monk's dortoir/grange on right
Le Louroux is among the 101 priories founded in the 11th century which were dependent on the Abbey of Marmoutier; 10 of which were located in England. Priories like Le Louroux answered to an Abbey. Marmoutier iself dates from the time of St Martin [4th century] and is probably the most famous abbey in Touraine. In the early 13th century one of the Abbots of Marmoutier re-organised the lands of Le Louroux so that it became a model of agricultural exploitation.

medieval bus shelter & phone box
 The original gatehouse to the priory had rounded towers on each side. The one on the right is now what must be the most historic bus shelter and public telephone box in the departement! The beams inside are lovely.

The monk's dortoir was part of a huge 15th century grange which divides the courtyard in two. They have restored the dormers and some of the other windows sport renovated stonework. It has also been beautifully re-roofed. We were able to take a peek through one of the restored windows on the lower level  [not glazed or shuttered] to see the supports which have been put in to hold up the lathe and plaster dortoir floor. In the photo you can just see the metal beam underneath the original wooden cross beam both of which are now re-enforced by the new A shaped support.

dortoir floor supports
The priory church is a bit of a mix. We couldn't get in but from the outside it's clear the nave and bell tower are 12th - 13th century. The bell tower has some very nice romanesque arches.


Just outside the walls of the priory precinct is a large pigeonnier which, like the stewpond would help make sure the monks had enough to eat. It certainly looks big enough to have housed over 500 birds. We've written about pigeonniers before. Size gave an indication of the wealth of an estate.

Calvaire, detail
In the cemetary opposite there's a 15th century calvaire. A calvaire is different from a croix [cross] in that it includes more figures than just the crucified Christ. The calvaire at Louroux has Mary on the left and St John on the right. There's also a figure on the reverse, but it is too worn for us to make out who it might be. A few years ago we visited Britanny and the ones we saw there were amazing; very elaborate with many figures.


Simon said...

One of our favourite places, but we have never been to the cemetery before - it looks like we may have to remedy that soon

If you call in to the maison de pays you can collect the key for the church.

GaynorB said...

Another one for the ever growing list of places to go and sights to see. Thank you!

Niall & Antoinette said...

Simon: sadly the Maison de Pays was shut.

The calvaire is lovely and there are also 4 WWI graves. One lad died at Poperinghe[Flanders]. Interesting is that they brought the bodies back--all died in different years of the war. Mostly, if there was a burial, it was at the front. [have pics of graves if you're interested]

Jean said...

I love Le Louroux, although it can be difficult to pronounce until you get the hang of it!

I had a good walk round the priory a couple of years ago. There was also an art exhibition in the village and I bought a lovely painting for Nick which we have just taken to be reframed......there was a hidden surprise......I will be blogging about it soon !!!!

Minnie said...

How lovely to have an informed tour - and the mediaeval 'phone box was especially interesting ;-)!
I never knew that calvaires were to be found in outside Brittany. What a wonderfully informative blog this is: thank you.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@ Minnie - thanks so much for your kind words :-)
We too knew calvaires were typical in Brittany--remember taking photos of them one holiday -- and were intrigued to find the odd one or two lurking in Touraine.