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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 6 of 26: Guengat and Chapelle St-Thégonnec

photo by MAW

Decorative frieze in St Fiacre Church, Guengat

We had a week booked in a gite just outside Guengat. It is a typical small Breton village built around the church and Marie. It still has a bakers and chemist shop (identified by a bright green neon cross). There is a small market on Thursday afternoons behind the Marie. The evening we visited, there was a fish monger, a stall selling cider, an old lady selling honey, a vegetable stall, fruit stall, bread stall, cheese, butcher and charcuterie.

On the Quimper road, set in a carefully tended garden, is a small fountain with a niche containing a statue of St Fiacre, the patron saint of Guengat. The water flows into a lavoir.

Guengat church doesn’t feature in the guide books but is a typical example of a simple 16thC parish close with wall, small triumphal arch and calvary. It is a big church with a tall and very thin Kreisker spire. There are two side aisles. These have a series of dormer style windows which make the church look as if it has four aisles.

The south porch has lost its statues of the twelve apostles.

Inside there is a blue painted roof in the choir. Below is a carved and painted wooden frieze with animals, a woman pulling beer, soldier, farmer, a head being eaten by two crocodile like animals. All had great character and we kept saying ‘Have you seen...’

There is a large tomb of a lord and lady in one corner. Some believe this is the tomb of St Alouarn and his wife. There is a small glass exhibition cupboard with communion plate and 16thC processional cross. There is a large and elaborately carved wall cupboard. The side altar is splendid with gilt paintings.

On the road between Guengat and Plogonnec, there is a sign to Chapelle St-Thégonnec. This is down a narrow lane past a farm. There is a small parking area and the chapel is reached along a grassy track through the trees. It is in a lovely setting in a grassy clearing among the trees.

It is a plain, small granite building with two doorways. This is one of the few churches that has a fountain inside it. A spring feeds into a small fountain in the nave which has a small pool for ablutions. Water runs across the floor and out of the opposite wall before running off down the bank. The church looks unloved and unused. The walls are suffering from damp. It is plain and simple inside. There is no pulpit and two carvings of saints on either side of the altar (one is St Thégonnec) and a statue of the Virgin. There are no pews but a few stacked chairs and two tables with tourist information.

It is a lovely setting and well worth the detour to find it.

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