We were on the D21 coming from Chinon and heading towards the very pretty village of Crissay-sur-Manse when we spotted, away in the distance, what looked like the tip of a ruin on a ridge. On a whim we took the next wee road which branched off to the left and which seemed to head in the right direction. With a few meanders it duly took us to the brow of a hill which produced the following panorama:
|Les Roches Tranchelion|
We dropped down into the little valley below the ruins and apart from a sign telling us that this was Les Roches Tranchelion and a small wooden randonnée signpost saying 'eglise' there was no information to be had. Back home we did some digging....
The 'Collégiale Sainte-Marie-des-Roches-Tranchelion', to give it its proper name, was built in 1524 for a college of 5 canons by one Lancelot de La Touche, 'Panetier du Roi' or pantler to the King. This was the court officer in charge of the supplies of bread and the pantry, although by this time the office would have probably been largely ceremonial with more menial officials taking on the actual tasks. He was the seigneur of the Chateau des Roches at the time.
Seemingly, the 'collegiale' is one a the few examples which remain in the Touraine of Renaissance religious architecture. Others include la chapelle de Champigny-sur-Veude, Rigny-Ussé and the church at Montrésor, which has some lovely stained glass windows.
The 'collegiale' survived up to the Revolution and, though then empty, remained intact for some time afterwards, but by 1855 the church was in ruins.
According to a 19th century antiquarian source there is a legend associated with the 'collegiale'. History records that in 1559 King Henri II held a jousting tournament in the Place des Vosges, Paris to celebrate the Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. Henri II's opponent in the tournament was Gabriel de Montgomery, captain of his Scottish Guard. Unfortunately during the encounter Gabriel fatally wounded the king. The legend has it that Gabriel de Montgomery, in panic at what had occured, fled to Les Roches Tranchelion.The basis for this legend is the fact that Gabriel was married to Isabeau de La Touche, daughter of the same Lancelot de La Touche who built the 'collegiale'. The legend then goes on to suggest that it was this tragedy of involuntary regicide by his son-in-law that caused Lancelot to sell the chateau later in the same year .
|Ruins of Chateau des Roches|
|King Charles VII by Jean Fouquet - not a pretty boy!|
What a lot of history for two relatively little bits of ruin on a ridge!
***If you'd like to see more photos of the 'collegiale' go to the Avon Patrimoine blog [in French] set up by an association of Avon-les-Roches inhabitants.