A Church on Every Horizon

 

P7340322Every day during term time I drive the same route. I leave our village and take the long straight road that cuts its way through open farmland, climbs a gentle sloping hill and then slithers down into the valley where in an ancient village a narrow bridge across a small river forces cars to cross alternately in single file. Each morning on my return trip I notice the upstairs window closest to the road in the old stone house on the corner by the river-wall will be open wide letting the air in – come rain or shine. The seasons may transform the landscape, as it changes from fields of sunflowers in summer to bare ploughed soil in winter. But these simple routines never change.

The light flickers moodily and the weather caresses and spits, depending on its whims. But there is another thing that never alters – the spires and towers of the area’s many churches that feature heavily on a centuries-old skyline.

img_3293-2They are both points of navigation and historic monuments, as we come to the brow of our closest hill we see the first tower, down by that narrow bridge. In the distance behind it is the sharp Gothic spire of the church in Pont L’Abbe, another navigational waypoint on my morning route.

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The churches on this landscape have stood for nearly a thousand years now – some even longer. As places for worship and refuge, they illustrate the importance of religion and its rituals, and they bear testament to the skill and patience of previous generations.

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Central to village life, they were monumental structures in a time of relatively small and plain buildings, and even today they still resonate with importance and permanence, jutting proudly like signposts for tired pilgrims.

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P7340326The pointed spire of the church of Saint-Pierre de Sales in Marennes can be seen from miles around above the flat landscape of the marais and its surroundings, not surprisingly perhaps as it stands 85 metres tall.

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Since 1840 it has been listed as an official historical monument although the church has undergone many changes over the centuries. Founded in 1047 it was then entirely rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries. However by the end of the religious wars between the protestants and catholics the main body of the church was totally destroyed and all that remained was the bell tower. The rebuilding work began in the early 1600’s and lasted until 1776 when the church we see today was finally finished.

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Originally unembellished and often utilitarian in outlook, some churches became much wealthier in later centuries and sought to improve their outlook with their newly-found wealth. The sharp Gothic spire on the 12th century Romanesque church in Pont l’Abbe – the Église Saint-Pierre, is a good example.

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I will never tire of looking at these amazing buildings. We are lucky, the doors here are always open and one can enter at leisure and I am instantly filled with a sense of peace, the cold inside makes me pull my coat a little tighter around me but at the same time I feel calm and safe. Very occasionally I take one or two photos but as a general rule I don’t, preferring to keep my thoughts firmly to myself.

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On my travels I sometimes pass through the village of Champagne. It is not a large place and in fact it has a population of only just over 500 people. There is of course the Mairie, the administrative centre of the village, there is a boulangerie and of course there is a church. For such a small neighbourhood one might expect a modest-sized place of worship but as is typical of this region, the church is huge and proudly takes centre stage in this small community where most of the houses jostle for space and share their roofs with their attached barns. Inside these houses may have metamorphosed into the 20th and 21st centuries, but on the outside, except for the colour of the shutters one gets the feeling little has changed for a great many years.

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The church itself is Romanesque and is typical of the beliefs and financial devotion of a landscape’s 12th century peasantry.

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I wonder when the original arched doorway below was blocked up and ceased to be an entrance? It must have a thousand tales to tell, not the least of which – is ‘why’? What happened in the life of this church that such an important opening was closed to light forever?

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To one side of the church sits the old rectory, it would have been one of the most important houses in the village and this one has far reaching views over the valley beyond.

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It is – of course – perfectly positioned just off the Rue de l’Eglise.

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Many of the area’s churches are solemn structures, weathered by centuries of weather, and almost all of them scarred in some way by warfare and changing religious stances; but they endure, testimony to the immense spiritual strengths of the area’s feudal ancestors.

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The Église Notre Dame du Bon Secours in St Agnant is by contrast to many others here quite small. Built in 1689 in a simple Baroque style, its perhaps most notable feature is the external staircase which climbs up to the bell tower.

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But imagine this, the church sits next door to our favourite boulangerie owned and run by our good friends Amélie and Franck. So I have had ample opportunities to park and walk and take notes whilst satiating my hunger with a nibble on the end of a still warm baguette, because whoever can resist just that small piece on the end of a decent baguette has a great deal more willpower than me!

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What’s more they actually make a loaf of bread called a baguette Eustache, (circled below) a tribute to a priest called Eustache Leboulanger (you couldn’t make this up), who during his tour of duty at the church next door in the early 1700’s decided to have a bell made to be put up in the belfry. With his own funds he designed and had manufactured a bell of some 1700lbs in weight, which in the event turned out to be too heavy to hoist to the height required for installation; instead it now lies – interred and mute – within the church, on view to passing savants who can either smirk at the priest’s miscalculations, or admire him for his worthy charity.

 

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It just goes to show we all make mistakes and some are bigger than others! It’s wet and windy here, I seem to have been saying this since December and it’s not at all typical of a Charente Maritime winter. I’ve never heard the locals complain so much! I hope that whether you are in the grips of a heatwave or surrounded by snow that the New Year is getting off to a good start.

118 thoughts on “A Church on Every Horizon

  • Oh how I loved this, a wander around these incredible temples of religion that have stood the test of time. Beautiful in every way Susan, thank you.

  • I could wander and explore every church I find while traveling in Franch. My husband can attest to this. It is a calm that I always experience while sitting and looking around, Don’t know if I will ever find that calmness in a “storefront” mega church in the states.

    • I know exactly what you mean, there is a calmness inside, it fills us instantly and soothes at the same time. I can spend hours exploring every church I come to, if only I had the time! xx

  • One of my favorite things about living in Europe is the churches. Here in Sweden they’re everywhere as well. Little used but here. I enjoyed the images as it gave me a chance to compare architecture. As for the Eustache, wow what a treat. Coffee, a corner of the warm Eustache and a slice of Brie de Meauxm and I’d have breakfast.

    • When I eventually get to Sweden, and it is definitely on my bucket list then exploring churches is something I shall certainly do, like you, I love comparing architecture. In England for example in a small village the church is nearly always small as well whereas here it seems to be huge. I’ll join you for breakfast, sounds perfect! xx

    • Are the church bells silent because of money or people don’t care? A Swedish summer without church bells sounds so sad. Dalby Kyrka has lots of memories for me. All the children were afraid of the priest. Thanks for your input.

      • Ahhh but the church bells are not silent here, perhaps I misled you. Our church bells ring every day at midday, 12 times. In the next door village they ring at 1pm and the next one 2pm and so and so forth, it is a way people used to be able to tell the time. No two neighbouring villages will have their bells ringing at the same time. xx

  • The architecture is wonderful.. I live in Malta and you often hear that they have a church per 10 congregation. Some are really stunning. in fact I have a small chapel on the land I live and often go and feel the energy.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Susan, I can imagine visiting the chapel really does give you energy, they are fabulous places. I don’t know Malta at all well although I do know Gozo fairly well having visited for many years in a row when my boss (in my London days) had a house there. xx

  • Good morning Sue, Lovely to see these beautiful photographs of landscape and churches. I will be in France late Feb until the third week of March, but sadly am fully busy and so wont be seeing you on this trip. I start in Caramany s.w. france – then Carcassone, and onto stay with friends in Brittany and then Paris….action packed. Portugal in April and then east coast of the States for all of May. After this flurry I am planning to make some more leisurely trips to France. I will keep you appraised. Weather has been pretty awful here as well…with high winds. Spring will be here soon. Janet xx

  • I am fascinated by the churches of Europe as well. This was such a delightful tour. I am hoping to make a trip to France this summer.

  • oh what beautiful churches and how beautifully you write…as always, longing to visit your country…we are heading to st. martin for a vacation, staying on the french side, where we get a little taste of french culture…but of course warm temps and sunshine, much needed after our winter so far in new jersey…thanks so much for your inspirational writing and beautiful photos!

    • Thanks so much Mary, I actually know St Martin rather well. We lived for a couple of years on Anguilla when we were first married and we used to go across to Marigot every week to buy groceries, there was no fresh produce to speak of on Anguilla whereas Marigot had so much! Hope you have a wonderful holiday, I am sure after a long winter some Caribbean sunshine will be most welcome. xx

  • I love old churches but have never seen anything close to this old, So impressive! My Grandma was Catholic and she spent 1-3 months every winter with us in California and we would take her to various churches for mass. I often went with her and because of that grew a love for the beauty of them. I would love to be in France and explore those beautiful old Churches! Thank you for sharing them! Karen….

    • Hi Karen, I love visiting any church, I always get such a wonderful sense of peace. The churches here fascinate me, at home in England when we have a very small village usually the church is small too whereas here they seem to be huge and almost quite austere. But I do love that the doors are never locked and there is nothing better than to walk inside and spend a few moments just savouring the cool and calm. xx

  • lovely post….i have bookmarked St.Agnant and the boulangerie too.and Ronnie has found a good canal walk there..our train tickets London to Poitiers came today…getting nearer…exciting.

    • Woohoo how exciting, I certainly hope the weather improves! The boulangerie is fabulous. We now have a market in the village every Sunday morning which I think you will enjoy. Very much looking forward to seeing you again xx

    • Well your first introduction was certainly a fabulous one! The churches in the villages I talked about here are certainly a great deal more humble, although we do have some fabulous cathedral like ones too, I’ll feature those another time. xx

  • I love the different styles and the history you have. You are so lucky to be able to see these and feel their presence and their energy on a daily basis.

  • I am not a reglious person but whenever I am at a place with a church , be it large or small, known as a landmark or unknown, I enter for a short contemplative retreating. They all have a very special aura and something mystical. It
    seems you should change your place….here wonderful 17-20 g.

    • I totally agree with you, they have a very special aura and as I said, they fill me with a great sense of peace and calm. I really do like just standing in churches and thinking. 17 to 20 would be fabulous, although it is not cold here, around 13 most days, just wet and windy!! Sunday was fabulous though, springlike and sunny and I believe next week is forecast to be lovely, fingers crossed. xx

  • Oh, there again, so much to read, admire, ponder and there would be so much to say from my side (as if anybody wd be interested…! 🙂
    I love the first 2 pics particularly – those are the misty photos of something you just know that (hopefully) later on it will be licked clean by the sun and shine all the more for that moment of being cloaked in sheaths of wet, flowing mist.
    In autumn last yr we visited a church in CH which stunned us was the church in Saanen (1228), medieval with hardly any windows at all in the tower but open balconies running round at the top; and the tower covered – as if by accident & thrown on top of it an octagonal roof – very bizarre and beautiful. It bears tiny openings for throwing fire at the enemy (I guess) and the balcony on top would have served the same purpose. I took a lot of photos which I sadly never uploaded. This is the only one I found on the internet: https://goo.gl/images/DQp6yK – What’s so special in the first place was that the tower was Inside it was quite dark, and it had very pale and incredibly beautiful, frail, frescoes on the walls, intricate stairs, an elaborate organ – such a miracle church; just like that, in an already superb area of outstanding beauty. I don’t have to visit every church I see (only about every 1 and a half….) but when I do I’m always immediately feeling ‘special’, nearby God, I calm down and find my inner peace.
    Had – waiting for a concert – a terrifying/uplifting experience in Paris’ Notre Dame – but it would take far too much space here to tell it all. You may ask me when we meet…. 🙂
    I also often think: If stones could talk, not only the ones of bricked up entry doors, but the stones of walls around old buildings, the walls of our stone house, the large bolders we climb over…. Those stones probably often would cry and so would we.
    As for the name of the baker called Leboulanger, I also collet funny names – and exchange with my sisters those treasures. I found here in France an artist, comics and cartoon designer called DESSINATEUR, on a sadder note there was this French journalist called LOUP BUREAU. I learned about him because he was held in Turkish prison. I also think of the two psychiatrists Freud = ‘joy’ and Jung = young…. My dentist is called Desboeuf and for years I ignored him on account of his name – but he is the gentlest soul one could wish for and an outstanding dentist…. The pity is just that I didn’t go to him before.
    Also we have a tiny village in Switzerland called Champagne. They made/make an excellent wine called ‘Vin de Champagne’ – un VIN pas du CHAMPAGNE! – until some years ago the ‘real’ Champagne France presented them with a verdict that they could no longer call their vine ‘de Champagne’…. such is life! As IF this tiny village and their production would have been confused with the ‘real’ thing.

    • I will certainly ask you about Notre Dame when we meet, I love stories like this, I can see plenty of wine and late nights, can’t wait! Alas the misty photos didn’t turn into beautiful days, they remained misty and damp and not that great! I love the names, there are also plenty that we see or hear and think, how lucky we are not to have that name, of course the French don’t translate them to English but we do!! Our Champagne has only private vineyards and is very small and unassuming, but I rather like it all the same. Can’t wait for you to see our part of France. xxx

  • These magnificent churchs never ease to amaze me, particularly due to the fact of when they were built and how architecturally impressive they turned out. After seeing those gorgeous baguettes, I think I must bake some homemade rustic bread today since I’m drooling. Happy weekend.

    • I know just what you mean, to think that they took over a hundred years to build, not surprising considering it all had to be done by hand, but that is a very long time and I always marvel at what they achieved, they are so stunning. Hope the bread was a success, there is nothing like the smell of home baking. What did you make? xx

  • You are amazing & your insight is so appreciated, both esthetically & emotionally. Love your blog, friend! Donna USA

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  • Ah, yes the churches….big and small. It is truly addictive to visit each of them. I love the distinctive smell. There is the smell of bees wax and history. Sometimes when driving through the smallest of village, the sight of the most magnificent structure for miles around always leaves me in awe that people, with very minimal tools created these wonderful structures.
    Rain here….and wind. The power keeps flickering…but it is fairly mild and that means no snow. That’s a good thing.
    Ali xxx

    • They leave me in awe too, to think that they took over a hundred years to build and were created with just bare hands and as you say minimal tools. Your weather sounds much the same as ours, we have been around 13C for a couple of weeks but wet and windy. Not at all typical weather for January! xx

  • A fabulous post, and yes I agree a church on almost every horizon. The weather is horrible it has not stopped raining this month. Roll on spring winter has already been too long. Keep warm and dry Diane

    • The weather is not great is it! But we had a fabulous day on Sunday, really warm, endless sunshine all day and we spent the day outside in the garden and even ate on the terrace. So it at least recharged our batteries for this week! I believe next week is meant to be nice and dry and sunny, hope I haven’t just jinxed it! Roll on spring as you say! xx

    • Thanks so much, I always find something utterly incredible about these ancient churches, just to think that they have stood nearly a thousand years as a place that was always regarded as a safe haven as well as a place of worship. Incredible. xx

  • Here, in my part of Spain, most of the churches are of no great age, the territory having been in Moorish hands until the late 1300s and then fought over with the border moving back and forth over a hundred years or so. The village has three churches, none of them of any impressive size, not even the parish church whose highest point, since we are on the hillside, doesn’t even reach up to our roof level.

    • I always wonder at the size of the French churches. In England we used to live in a very small village, and as seemed quite natural, we had a very small church, it was old, Norman in fact, but it was tiny and at Christmas when half the village turned out for the service one could scarcely find a pew to sit on. So I am amazed that here in France the churches, around here anyway, all tend to me absolutely huge regardless of the size of the village. You might not have the very old churches but you certainly have plenty of other amazing history. Plus I am a little envious of your weather right now!!! Have a great weekend xx

  • I enjoyed the pictures of the churches in your area. We have a Romanesque church in our tiny village. It was originally built in the 12th century and then rebuilt in the 17th century. It is austere, but beautiful and to me, very special. There are so many pretty villages and churches in the départements of the Charentes and Dordogne.

    • Yes I agree there the area is full of pretty churches, some big, some small, all with so much history. Our church in our village is not beautiful either and likewise it is rather austere and inside it is cold and empty, because it is so huge, I cannot begin to imagine the last time there was a full congregation, but I still love it. I can see it from a long way outside of the village and it is a very integral part of the community in its own way. Have a great weekend xx

    • Hi Marsha, how are you. I have been following along, but so so busy I have not had much time to comment. Italy?? It sounds like so much fun, I can’t wait to hear more, see more photos and at the same time I am wondering if you will be coming to France at all when you are in Europe, if so please please do let me know. Would so love to meet you xx

  • I love visiting the churches over there such great architecture and so historic, the stories they could tell. Your photography is great, especially the shots with pink and orange skies, beautiful.

    • Thanks so much, can you imagine the stories if the walls could talk. They have seen everything from great happiness to great sadness and everything in between. I am always in awe of the architecture, to think they built these incredible structures with very limited tools and it took them over a hundred years. xx

  • ‘My’ village has a population of 2000 and the church is vast, I can’t imagine the pews are ever filled these days.
    I love visiting French churches to view the religious statues….some are quite comical. I have a photo of one on my blog that was likened to Mr. Bean and Action Man. I hope that doesn’t sound too disrespectful…of course I also appreciate the differing architectural styles and incredibly detailed stonework.

    • I shall have to search through your blog to find the photo, sounds hilarious! Our village church is huge too although our village is only around 600 people and the church is austere and I am quite sure the pews are always at least 80% empty. I wonder why they are so vast and if they ever were filled. But austere or not, I still love them, they are very much a part of the village life here in their own way. xx

  • I, too, love visiting churches while traveling. By far my most favorite is a small structure named St. Mary the Virgin in Abbotts Ann near Andover. I first visited because of their collection of virgins crowns. I returned several years later simply out of fondness for the village. St. Mary’s is nowhere as grand as the massive cathedrals throughout England, but ever so much of the village as a whole can be found within its simple walls. It’s touching to know that the tradition of the crowns lives on to current times for those villagers meeting the requirements upon their passing. As a needleworker I was overjoyed to find a great many kneeler cushions created through the years by local stitchers. St. Mary’s is obviously an integral part of the village and cherished by many, which is how it should be.❣️

    • Wow Jan, I have just had a great read all about the Virgin Crowns in Abbotts Ann, thank you, I had never heard of this. I know Andover quite well as I have a very good friend who is from that area. What amazed me was that this tradition was relatively new from the 19th century to the 1970’s although I see it does go back to medieval origins. There is always so much local history attached to these churches that we would never know about unless we start doing some research. I love hand stitched kneelers, another thing that I think we all took for granted as children in our small parish church, but now I look back on those times and realise how special they were. xx

  • Besides the peace and calm, the historic churches/cathedrals offer glimpses of the most amazing architecture, stained glass and building techniques of the periods–and as you have shown with your nearby ones. The various styles often changing and evolving over centuries depending on the wealth and belief of those in a position to influence changes. I was just in York (UK) earlier this week and spent several wonderful hours going through and around (even under, in the crypts) York Minster; almost had the place to myself since the day was initially dark and rainy. But the sun broke out in the afternoon and bathed the Minster in a glorious light. Outside, under a simple, open shelter, stonemasons were recreating some of the damaged stonework–an amazing skill. I have to laugh at the fact that the majority of my photos on this UK trip were of the architectural details of churches (in London and York) so this post of yours was timely for me. Thanks.

    • I can quite see why so many of your photos were dedicated to the details of the churches, in London and York you have some fine examples. Isn’t it wonderful to see stonemasons and the like at work, keeping old traditional skills alive and nearly always they are passionate about the work they are doing. I am so glad that these ancient buildings, whether they be churches or houses are preserved. I hope you had a wonderful trip xx

  • Hello from the sunny and warm Arizona desert. I love this post! I was fortunate to visit France in 2012 and took a train from Marseilles to Paris. What I noticed most were the beautiful church spires towering over each of the villages we passed. It was so beautiful, pastoral and serene. You are fortunate to live among such amazing structures, and also to enjoy the slower-paced European lifestyle. Sometimes I wish my ancestors never left Europe! It’s a magical place. The pace of life in America seems crazy in comparison.

    • Hi Joanie, it sounds as if you had a wonderful trip and I always think we can see so much from the train. I love going from village to village and seeing each church tower or spire rising up as we approach. The pace of life is slower here, not as slow as it once was but still I do like the fact that people still take time for lunch, offices close and it is normal not unusual. Hope you get back to France again someday xx

  • I have been lucky enough to see so many beautiful churches in Europe on my travels, I certainly have more photos of them than anything else, they bring me great peace . Loved this entry today so much.

    • They do bring great peace Jane you are so right, there is something so comforting about stepping in through those big doors, I find it is a place where I can gather my thoughts and feel incredibly calm. xx

  • I certainly miss the history that goes with the old church of Europe here in New Zealand. We have our own history but there is something special about stone that was cut and laid a thousand years ago.

    • There is something incredible about looking at an old church and just thinking that it has stood for nearly a thousand years, looking at those stones and realising that they were cut and laid by hand, it really is incredible. But having said that, you live in the most beautiful country, our youngest was born in Auckland and you have your own fabulous history. xx

  • I am not religious although I will say I am a “Christian”. Going into the churches in Europe you feel something. Not sure what it is but it gets right into the soul. I could go to any church in Europe – France or a graveyard and wander for hours. Thank you for the post and the photos are amazing.

    • You have hit the nail on the head, it does get right into the soul and I agree about the graveyards too, I can wander around an old cemetery here and look at the headstones and read the inscriptions. It is sad but it is also lovely that people can remember and appreciate so many lives lived. xx

      • Its very sad wandering graveyards and wondering what happened. It is part of the history and even just a name on a cross or headstone says ” I lived and I died”…I was important.

        • It is very sad, but isn’t it good that people are able to walk around and actually acknowledge a life lived. I think graveyards make us reflect on our own lives. I always leave feeling very contemplative. xx

  • So interesting. It reminded me of one of my favourite films ‘Under a Tuscan Sun”. which is obviously set in Italy but the thought of the open window reminded me of the rituals observed and the traditions kept in these countries. Lovely read on a rainy saturday morning.

    • I have read the book but never seen the film, but I just loved the book, a fabulous read. It is funny how the window is opened every morning, always at the same time, on the way to school it is closed, on the way home open no matter what the weather. My father always believed that one should sleep with the window a fraction open, even when it was freezing and there was frost on the inside of the windows! Old habits die hard! xx

        • I shall have to see if I can find the film on Netflix or buy the dvd, sounds like a great movie to watch on these dull winter nights. Thanks for the recommendation. I think it is probably very good to sleep with the window open, our bedroom faces west and as that is where most of our bad weather and rain comes from it means we would probably get rather soggy overnight! But I never close the window in the spring and summer. xx

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  • Susan,
    Oh my…what a lovely and charming post about something so dear to my heart. There is nothing more lovely and peaceful than the historic churches you have beautifullly photographed and written about in this post.
    It is truly a testament to the men and women who put their heart and souls into the building of these churches.
    I, for one, love love love the smaller churches. Whatever the reason; their minuscule exteriors/interiors and furnishings always “tug” at my “heartstrings.” Don’t get me wrong I have seen more than my share of Beautiful, Large and Unforgettable European Churches. But, it’s these smaller ones that you shared today on your blog are the ones to whom I want to hear their stories. Because, to me it’s within these small village churches the beauty and simplicity of true Christian character “of old” can be “felt.”
    Thank you for such a thought provoking and lovely post, Susan! 😘

    • I love the big cathedrals in England and the huge churches here, but one almost expects them to be incredible, with rich carvings. However, as you say, the smaller, far more humble churches are equally incredible. they are often quite austere looking and the interiors are almost bare, but when one really stops to look closely one can notice the most intricate carvings in the stone both in the interior and exterior. In many places they are almost worn smooth after centuries of wear and tear but to think that they were built with bare hands nearly a thousand years ago is just mind boggling. I will never ever tire of looking at these fabulous buildings. xx

  • I am not a religious person at all but when I have visited France I am surprisingly drawn to the small churches and find myself wanting to enter and I can feel an immediate calming effect, almost as if someone truly is watching over me.

    • I don’t think you have to be religious to appreciate these fabulous churches, I think you just need to relax and feel whatever each individual person feels. Be it peace, calm or religion. xx

  • Such beautiful photography as always. It just proves you don’t need sunshine to take a decent photo. Your weather sounds as bad as ours, what a winter!

    • Our weather has been hideous most days since December! We had a perfect day last Sunday but we have had so much wind and so much rain, the land is totally saturated and really cannot take any more rain, fields have turned into lakes as the water table is so high. But I think that it is rather fun to take photos in the rain, it changes the colour of everything and magnifies so much. xx

  • It is said: ‘If at once you don’t succeed, try, try again!’ WordPress seems to feel ornery towards me and now it looks I have not received the last three posts of yours! Shall show my ‘angry face’ during the coming Long Weekend: Australia Day and try to normalize matters. Thought you may have been unwell . . . Absolutely loved being immersed in European history seeing your evocative photos of the churches in your area . . .shall quietly return to the scene later . . .

    • This is the problem with cyberspace, sometimes one just doesn’t know. I have a few blogs that I adore and follow religiously and one has suddenly stopped appearing in my inbox, no matter how many times I subscribe, unsubscribe and resubscribe it refuses to show up and so I miss the posts. It is so annoying. But thank you for letting me know. All I can suggest is perhaps unfollow and then follow again, hopefully that will do the trick, would hate to miss you and just to let you know I did post again today, always on a Thursday rain or shine and trust me there has been a lot of rain recently! xx

  • Hi Susan. That was an enjoyable little journey! It is amazing how churches all over the world have survived their endless political, social and religious changes – it’s just incredible that there are any left at all. But there they still stand . But I can’t help wondering what their future holds? Our lovely church of St Mary’s in the village is a Grade 1 listed ‘wool church’ from the days when the village was an important centre for weaving and housed the wealthy clothiers. But that time declined and now the church, like some of those you pictured, stands huge and magnificent in a small village. We love it, but it is, like a lot of churches here, under threat of a diminishing congregation. If these churches aren’t used, then they will close and decline. An old building like this requires thousands to keep it heated and repaired and the PCC is having to think of new and varied ways of keeping the church ‘alive’ and of raising money for its upkeep. I must confess we don’t attend church on a regular basis, but do attend lots of special services and events there and I often walk down to sit in its peaceful interior if I’m feeling a bit frazzled. But that is not enough – when the older members of the congregation go, there are few younger people to follow. So what do we do? Does France have similar problems or is it still a country that attends church on a Sunday? I think that these wonderful church buildings should be used for lots of other purposes, they should become a hub for a community, holding exhibitions, artisan fairs perhaps, with local produce and crafts – open it up to people who may not normally step inside, take away some of their reservations. Only by getting people to love these beautiful buildings for what they are – magnificent architecture and tradition of which we should be proud whether or not we are religious, will we have a chance of saving them for the future. Have a lovely week and I hope it gets drier!

    • We have exactly the same problem here, vastly diminishing congregations, and often there is no longer a service every Sunday, instead there is one vicar for several churches and there is a rotation as to which church will hold the Sunday service. Times have changed and this is what has brought about the demise of the Sunday service as we both remember it. As children, we used to go every Sunday with our parents, now it is just on high days and holidays and so we have not brought our children up to attend the family service every Sunday either and so it goes on. You have some wonderful ideas as to how the local churches should be used and appreciated, I wonder are you able to try and get them off the ground in your village? xx

  • Hi Susan
    Just found your blog and loved the post on French churches along with the photographs. I am not religious but love visiting French churches as every village no matter how small has a grand church with the Place d’eglise. Everyone is different with its own charm. On a hot day one can escape inside to cool off and admire their beauty. By the way I have the same surname as you by marriage. Unusual spelling in the UK.Commonly spelt that way in the US.
    Best Wishes

    • Hi, yes this is the first thing I noticed, the surname! Such an unusual spelling in the UK, and I am sure you get just as frustrated as we do with the fact that everyone adds an e! I am also so glad you love the French churches as much as I do. They fascinate me, their size and how they were built by hand so many hundreds of years ago. Of course there are also the most delightful churches in the UK too, I love them all, not for religion but just because of what they are. So glad you found the blog and thanks for taking the time to comment. Have a great weekend xx

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