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Report 1980: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 1 Southern Finistère

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 16 of 26: Daoulas

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Ruined cloisters of the Abbey

Daoulas is a small medieval town which grew up round the abbey, getting its wealth from linen or kaolin industries.

This is a less attractive town than nearby Le Faou but does have more shops. The granite buildings are not as old and much plainer. There are some nice 16thC granite houses on rue de l’eglise leading up to the Abbey Church. This is now the parish church and is a fairly plain building surrounded by a graveyard. The original porch has been moved to the entrance of the churchyard.

Opposite is the smaller Chapelle Ste-Anne. This was originally a hospice. The doorway is set in a splendid porch with columns and statues. The inside of the chapel is plain with a very simple rood, a bar with Jesus on the cross with the Virgin Mary and St John. The altar is a simple table painted to resemble marble with an elaborately carved retable above with paintings, carvings and lots of gold paint.

The abbey ruins are tucked away behind the church. The abbey was founded in 12thC by the Viscount of Leon who established an order of Augustinian canons. The canonical rights were suppressed in 1790 and the abbey church became the parish church and the rest of the buildings were sold. Some parts of the abbey were demolished, others fell into a ruinous state. After the second world war a school was established in the grounds.

The ticket office is in the main gateway and there is a short AV presentation in the old stable area. Beyond is a small courtyard. To the left is the school with modern exhibition rooms and shop beyond. To the right is the Abbot’s House which is now the administration centre for the abbey. The cloisters are beyond this. Three sides remain with pillars and round arches. The original cloisters were destroyed during the revolution but were reconstructed during the 19thC. They now enclose a private garden.

Beyond the cloisters, steps lead up to the medicinal garden which is divided up into neat plots with a selection of herbs growing, all labelled. There is an extensive and pleasant garden with grass and mature trees. At the far end of the garden is the oratory and fountain. The oratory is a small rectangular 16thC building with altar and statues inside. The fountain is a splendid structure with the date 1550. The water flows flows through a series of small basins and is supposed to be good for the eyes.

The water from the fountain flows into the monks washroom which is made from large slate slabs. Near it is a 20thC building that was used as a laundry room by the school.

A stream flows through the garden into a pond which has flowers around it. The area is supposed to be grazed by Quessant sheep but none were visible the day we visited.

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