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Gallery: Churches of Brittany
by Peter Kessler, 29 August 2010
Ille-et-Vilaine Part 1: Churches of St Malo to
Mont Saint Michel Monastery stands on a rocky
islet overlooking the western end of the English Channel. The islet,
reachable over a mile of sand at low tide, remained otherwise isolated
from the mainland until a causeway was constructed at the end of the
nineteenth century. It is traditionally in the St Malo district of
Ille-et-Vilaine in Brittany, but the river which divides this county
from its eastern neighbour keeps changing, so for the moment it is
officially in Normandy.
In the early eighth century, Bishop Saint Aubert of
Avranches founded the monastery, and by the end of the tenth century the
Normans were its most generous sponsors. It soon became one of the main
pilgrimage sites. During the French Revolution, the fortified abbey became
a prison for political opponents (including the 'Man in the Iron Mask' - who
claimed to be the brother of Louis XVI). In 1872 the monastery was reclaimed
by the French Government and restored.
Église Saint-Quémeau (Locquémeau Church) lies
in the small coastal town of the same name a little way north of the D786
road in the Lannion arrondissement of Cotes d'Amor. The original Chapel
Locquémeau once belonged to the Cistercian Relec Abbey in Leon. It was
replaced by the present Gothic church in the early sixteenth century by
architect Philippe Beaumanoir (after Rene Couffon). It retains a fifteenth
century bay gable of the original north transept.
Saint-Thégonnec Church is in the Morlaix
arrondissement, at the centre of the small town of the same name, between
the Avenue de Ker Izella to the north and the Rue de Chapellendy to the south.
The original church here was built before the sixteenth century. The oldest
item is the small bell which dates from 1563. The old tower was considered
too small and in 1599, during the reconstruction of the church, a tower to rival
that of the church at Pleyben was built.
Lampaul-Guimiliau Church is on the Place du Pad,
with Rue de Guimiliau on its southern side, south-east of the main provincial
town of Landivisiau. The churchyard is typically Breton in style. The enclosure
usually consists of four interrelated elements: the monumental entrance, the
Calvary, the ossuary and the church. The original church on this site was
replaced by the present Gothic building in Kersanton stone in the sixteenth
century. The sacristy was added in 1679.
Guimiliau Church lies at the centre of the village,
three kilometres or so east of Lampaul-Guimiliau, in south-west Morlaix.
Guimiliau takes its name from its eighth century patron saint, St Miliau,
the grandson of Alain II Hir (the Tall), king of Brittany. An early church
must have existed here, but it was replaced, with the tower and spire of the
present Gothic and Renaissance church being added in 1530. The porch was
added in 1606-1617, the ossuary around the same time.
All photos on this page contributed by Colin