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date: 16 September 2019

Tournus, St Philibertlocked

  • John Cameron

Extract

Former Benedictine abbey church in Burgundy, France. This is the only large-scale church that exhibits to a significant degree characteristics of both northern and southern Romanesque architecture. Disagreement in the 19th century and the early 20th about the building chronology, with controversy over the date of both the choir plan, with ambulatory and radiating chapels, and the narthex, has led to debate over the building’s significance in architectural history. More recently, scepticism has been expressed over the documentary evidence provided in the mid-11th-century Ardain text (see below).

St Philibert is a complex structure, c. 80 m long. At the west end is a two-storey narthex of three bays, with a two-tower façade over the western bay (the north tower has an added belfry; see fig.). The narthex exhibits a wide variety of Romanesque vaulting: the central vessel of the lower storey is groin-vaulted, with transverse barrel vaulting in the aisles; in the upper storey the main vessel has a longitudinal barrel vault, supported by quadrant vaults in the aisles. The vast five-bay nave (...

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