Tuesday, 27 May 2014

What's in a French Priory?

Recently I had the opportunity to have a small tour of the priory of Saint-Thomas d'Epernon. Amaury (a noble) and his wife Bertrade founded it with the consent of their son Simon. The charter is dated 1052/3AD.

I'm not a religious person but I was curious to see what had become of this priory which dates back 1000 years. One of the Sisters of Christ took us around. I didn't understand everything, it being in rapid French, and me not having the historical or cultural background but I picked up enough.

You can see from the photos that the buildings have been very much changed over the centuries, with demolitions, ruins and renovations all taking their toll. Part of the oldest section is still recognisably from the crusades. It has remained of a religious persuasion all it's history and still is.

These days it's a spiritual retreat where people can do bible studies, deepen faith and be religiously educated, partaking in culture and art at the same time. It's run by an association and offers meeting rooms, accommodation and dining facilities. The complex is set in a park of 4 hectares.

The priory started life as a benedictine monastery sponsored by the lord of Montfort-l'Amaury. Montfort-l'Amaury is a commune in the Île-de-France region. It's located in the south-western suburbs of Paris 20 km north of Rambouillet. The name originates from Amaury I de Montfort, the first dynasty of the Comtes de Montfort.

Montfort-l'Amaury was the stronghold of the Montfort family from the start of the 9th century. King Robert II built a castle in 996 in the hills of Montfort. Amaury I built the ramparts. The castle was destroyed by the English during the Hundred Years' War.

The Comté de Montfort was related to the Duchy of Brittany after the marriage of Yolande de Dreux-Montfort to Arthur of Brittany in 1294. The crown returned to France when Brittany became a part of France under Francis I.

In these photos you can see the different architectural styles of the dining room, a refectory, the chapel, the gardens, walls from the crusades...


Anonymous said...

Very pretty photos! The priory looks like an interesting place to visit.


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