History Files


Churches of France

Gallery: Churches of Brittany

by Peter Kessler, 29 August 2010

Ille-et-Vilaine Part 1: Churches of St Malo to Guimiliau

Mont Saint Michel Monastery

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.

Mont Saint Michel Monastery

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

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

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

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

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 kindly contributed by Colin Hinson.



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