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Report 2029: France 2012 Part 1 - The Loire Valley

By Eleanor from UK, Fall 2012

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Page 31 of 33: To the South - Preuilly-sur-Claise

photo by MAW

Chancel and ambulatory

Preuilly-sur-Claise is the main town for the region and dominated by the massive Église Abbatatiale St-Pierre on top of the hill. This was the former abbey church and is a marvellous example of Romanesque architecture. It has a tall tower with red and green tiles arranged in a diamond pattern. The nave has flying buttresses on the outside, much needed as the internal walls are beginning to bulge out. There is a Romanesque apse with round pillars and arches at the east end.

Entry is through the west door which has round arches above with ribbed pillars with grotesque heads carved on the capitals. There are three round topped windows above with more pillars and round arches with carvings above them.

Inside it is a massive construction with very pronounced joints between the blocks of stone. There is a barrel roof in the nave with a vaulted roof in the side aisles. Tall pillars supporting round arches separate the nave and side aisles. Internal buttresses support the transept and side aisles.

There is a large wooden cross on the south wall and a statue of St Theresa. On the north wall is St Antonine de Padoue giving bread to a beggar. The wooden pulpit has a small gilt angel on top of the canopy. The Stations of the Cross are small paintings in wooden frames on the nave wall. There is a large oil painting of Christ being taken down from the cross and wrapped in a shroud.

There are beautifully carved altars in the transepts. That in the south transept has pillars on the base with elaborately carved arches above. In the center is a carving of Mary with a young Jesus on her lap surrounded by two other figures. The host box is carved to look like a castle and has a gilt ram holding a cross on a blue background on the door.

The north altar has a carving on the base of people bringing children to Jesus to be blessed. Above is an elaborately carved host box with a gilt door with a carved spire above. On either side are two decorative reliquary boxes.

The transept pillars have carved capitals and round arches. There is a statue of Joan of Arc on the north side and a modern metal and stone carving of St Peter with the keys of Heaven, fishing net and fishes on the south side.

The chancel has a carved stone high altar and old wooden choir stalls. The joints between the stone blocks are picked out in deep red.

There is an ambulatory around the chancel with round pillars with very elaborately carved capitals supporting round arches picked out in dark red. Above is a semi-circle of pillars with blind arches and stained glass windows above. These have a carved frieze round them. There are old tombstones on the floor of the ambulatory. There are statues of a bishop, St Ann and the young Virgin Mary, St Ragegonde and Joseph with the young Jesus. The chapel in the east end apse has a carved stone altar with the Virgin and Child with Joseph and an unidentified woman. Above is a carved host box with a gilt ram on the door holding a cross with a small blue flag. There is a painted statue of the Virgin and ‘Merci’ plates on the walls.

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