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Report 1982: Megaliths, Parish Closes and Cider - Part 3 Northern Finistère

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2011

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Page 27 of 32: La Roche-Jagu and La Roche-Derrien

photo by MAW

La Roche-Derrien

These are both close to Tréguier.

La Roche-Jagu Château was built on a defensive site high above the river Trieux in the early 15thC. It is a massive plain granite building with an external spiral stairway in a round tower. The roof has small dormer windows and decorated chimneys. The château is unfurnished and is now used to house exhibitions. Having had bad experiences of exhibitions in other châteaux which got in the way of the architecture we decided to miss the inside of this one.

There is free access to the extensive grounds which have good views down to the river below. On a nice day you could spend several hours walking here. Judging by the size of the car park this is a popular day out with locals. There is a large herb garden with plants grown in raised beds surrounded by concrete, hidden by plaited willow. There is a living willow fence of entwined stems with leaves above. A small pergola has water dripping off it into the fountain below. To one side of the château overlooking the river is a herbaceous border. In September 2011 this was planted with white cosmo, cleome and nicotiana.

La Roche-Derrien is a small fortified town built on a promontory at the head of the Jaudy estuary. It has retained its medieval street plan and has a lot of old timber frame and stone houses. It has a good range of shops around Place du Matray. La Chapelle du Calvaire is built on the site of the castle motte and has good views of the river and across the roof tops to the church.

Eglise Ste-Catherine was built in the 13thC but damaged in the 14thC during the War of Succession and again in the 18thC by lightning. It was restored in 1820. The western door is the only part of the 13thC church to survive.

There are two doors on the south side leading into the church. The church is unusual as the north and south aisles are offset and not opposite each other. At the east end, the high altar is made of highly carved dark wood with statues of saints on either side and a stained glass window above. To the south side is a massive altar stretching from floor to ceiling with a large painting. To the north is a smaller table altar with window above.

The huge offset north aisle has a splendid large altar with a painting above, statues and a lot of gilded carvings. There is an old tomb of an unidentified lord and lady in a small a niche on the side wall.

In the south aisle is a smaller carved wood altar with a statue of Christ.

The walls of the nave are pale and the vaulted ceiling ribs are painted in red and gilt and the windows outlined in red paint. There are carved heads at the bases of the arches. On the north side of the nave is a big painting of the nativity. There are carved and painted stations of the cross on the walls, a crucifix and statues. The font is 14thC and decorated with the symbols of the four evangelists.

The 16thC organ came from Westminster Abbey. It was brought to France in 1545 following Henry VIII’s decision to dissolve the monasteries. La Roche-Derrien acquired it from the Cathedral of St-Brieuc in 1847.

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