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Report 1980: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 1 Southern Finistère
By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011
Page 26 of 26: Abbaye de St-Maurice
Remains of the west door into the church
Abbaye de St-Maurice had been on my ‘B list’ of things to do. All the information I had was that it was the ruins of a 12thC abbey and the few pictures on the internet didn’t look too inspiring.
However Manoir de Kernaut was so disappointing that we had time on our hands and decided to visit here. It is south of Quimperle just off the D224 Clohars Carnoët to Guidel Road. It is on the edge of the Fôret de Carnöet by the tidal river Laita.
There is a large car park surrounded by woodland. It is a 10-15 minute walk along the side of the river and across the dam to the abbey buildings. The track continues further into the woodland.
Entry is into what had been the orangery. We were given an audio tour in English which was excellent and we learned a lot, especially as there isn’t a lot to see on the ground. The area outside the orangery had been the vegetable garden and the grass has been mowed to show where the paths would have been, leaving longer grass where the flower beds were.
The 17thC Abbey Farm has been restored and is typical of Breton Manor houses. It has an audiovisual about the abbey and exhibitions about the abbey restoration and buildings. There are two live webcams showing a colony of bats in the roof.
Beyond the farm is the main entrance to the Abbey with a tithe barn beside it. Peasant farmers had to give every 33rd sheaf of grain to the Abbey. The roof was thatched and irises were planted along the ridge to protect the thatch from rain.
Only the highly decorated facade of the church is left and a few walls and bumps in the ground. Steps lead down into what would have been the cloisters. There is nothing left of these except the well and the 13thC Chapter house with the Charter room (Library) on the left. This was built of stone and had a fire resistant door.
There are the remains of a 19thC building which had been workshops.
In the 19thC, stones from the abbey had been used to build a château which incorporated the chapter house. This had been used by the Germans and was pulled down after the war. All that is left is a low wall of stones. The 19thC gateway to the château remains.
This was an interesting visit and well worth while. We were glad we visited. The Abbey is in a lovely setting and there look to be good walks in the surrounding woodlands.
Note: Links to parts two and three of this trip report will be added as they are published.
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