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date: 19 October 2019

Aulnay, St Pierrelocked

  • M. T. Camus

Extract

Church in Saintonge, western France, situated on the old pilgrimage road between Poitiers and Saintes. Towards the middle of the 11th century the church was in the possession of the Benedictine abbey of St Cyprien in Poitiers. It passed to the canons of Poitiers Cathedral between 1119 and 1122, when the decision to rebuild it was probably made. The church was restored in the 15th century (façade strengthened with buttresses) and in the 18th and 19th centuries (masonry repairs by Paul Abadie). Built of limestone, St Pierre has a five-bay aisled nave, a transept with apsidal chapels and a deep apsidal choir. It has slightly pointed barrel vaults. There is no clerestory, the nave and aisles being united under a single roof, which, with the raised aisle walls, results in a triangular west façade. The crossing is surmounted by a beautiful bell-tower.

St Pierre houses Romanesque sculpture of great interest, synthesizing the characteristics of Poitou and Saintonge. Inside, sculptured capitals are confined to the nave and crossing. Carved in deep relief, capitals decorated with masks, animals and monsters alternate with a variety of foliate compositions; there seems to be no clear limit between the real and the fantastic world. One capital carries the inscription ...

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