Friday 30 November 2007

Shoes in Chatellerault

When I was in Chatellerault arranging to have the phone connected there was a market in the main square.

For some reason, the colours on this stall really interested me. I know the polka dots (and the prices) interest Susan.

Chatellerault is an interesting town. Like many French towns it is approached through the industrial area and this gives no indication at all of what the town itself is like. (I know that most towns the world over are approached through industrial areas, but this feels different. Maybe it's growing up in Canberra).

The town itself is built around a really quite wide and long square and has cafe's and fountains and stuff. We haven't really ever been to the town itself, mainly the station and hardware stores, of which it has many. We will probably spend a day in Chatellerault this Christmas putting this right.


Tuesday 27 November 2007

The Abbaye at Night

In a previous entry I wrote a little about the Abbaye Saint Pierre.

This is the western front. It is here that the church really showns its Romaine origins. To English speakers, for Romaine read Romanesque. If we were talking about a church in England it would probably be described as "Early Norman".

This photo was taken without flash or a tripod. Lamp posts are really useful sometimes.


Saturday 24 November 2007

It's winter again!!

So - another summer over, and according to the meteo, it's been cold in Preuilly. I was rather purturbed to see that the temperature has been down as low as -3c, especially as we had left the water turned on at the house so that the roofers could finish their magic. The thought of burst pipes was too much, even though most, if not all, of the pipes will probably have to be replaced.

Luckily, we have recived an email from Alan and Jane, who live in Preuilly. A quick pleading email and Alan was down checking that the stopcock was off and the tap outside on the back of the house was open. It appears that either the roofers or our neighbours were on the ball and this had been done, but it's a huge relief to have confirmation of this.

To celebrate, a photo of last year's winter

We have recently received a number of emails from people who know the area in and around Preuilly. Some of these people are English, and either live there permanently, or have property there that they visit for extended periods, but we have also received email from French people who live in Preuilly. It seems a bit soon to have become celebrities (no matter how minor) in our new town, but apparently there are a number of people who like what we are doing - so that's nice!


Wednesday 21 November 2007

Chateau de Fontbaudry

Preuilly has more than one chateau. In this case, though, the chateau is of the manor house persuasion rather than a castle.

Fontbaudry is just north of Preuilly on the road to Loches. The current building dates to 1845, but there has been a defensive manor on the site from the middle ages. Amazingly ( if I am reading my sources correctly) a tower from the medieval building survived as a dovecote until the 1980s, when it was "ploughed in". From the front the building looks pretty much standard classical revival style.

In winter, however, you can see the building from the side, when it takes on a more sprawling aspect.

The large trees are described in the literature as Wellingtonias - Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Interesting that the French use the common name that commemorates Wellington.....


Monday 19 November 2007


Bonneuil-Matours is where the road from Preuilly to Poitiers crosses the Vienne river. There is a photo of the bridge here.

Next to the bridge there is a small school, on which there is a plaque:

14 July 1944
Operation "Revenge from the air"
Destruction of the SS camp of Bonneuil-Matours by the English aircraft without civilian victims in reprisal for the massacre of English SAS and Resistance fighters.

The SAS had a base behind German lines in France immediately after D-Day in the forest near Verrières, South-east of Poitiers. On the 3rd of July the base was surrounded and the SAS soldiers shot after capture, along with a number of local men.

There is a Rue du 3 Juillet 1944 in Verrières.

For about a year I have assumed that the building bombed was the school on which the plaque is mounted. However, I have done a little research and it now appears that the target was the Château de Marieville, which can just be seen on the skyline in this photo.

From what I have since discovered, the Aircraft involved were Mosquitos of 464 (RAAF), 487 (RNZAF) and 21 (RAF) Squadrons. These are the same squadrons involved in the famous "Operation Jericho" (the bombing of the Prison in Amiens), and the even more famous raids on the Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus and Copenhagen.

There is a report on the raid (in French) here.


Thursday 15 November 2007

The Chapel of Saint-Melaine

The ruin on the left of this photo is what remains of the chapel of Saint-Melaine. It was built in the 12th Century to replace an earlier chapel (circa 851), and "devastated" in 1562 by the protestants. (I'm sorry, but I can't give any more information on this devastation until my French reading skills are better).

The decorated column capitals were sold when the Chateau was restored at the beginning of the 20th Century and are now in the Cleveland Museum of Art. They can be seen here.


Wednesday 14 November 2007


And now for something completely different:

The Eurostar has commenced running from St Pancras in London. It now runs right past our house in London, so to celebrate, a video of a train.


A column in St Savin

A carved capital fro the church of St Savin. It's more famous for the paintings, but it's always worth looking at the carving in old churches.

I have no idea what it is, or what it means. I will have to buy a book on iconography - once I find one that I understand.


Sunday 11 November 2007


The onset of winter has signalled the end of the 2007 building season. With no electricity or heating, the house is far too cold and dark to stay in. We will be visiting over winter to do small jobs, but we are waiting for a house in Australia to sell before we can get on with stuff like the staircase, installing the ecologically aware (and hopefully inexpensive to run) heating and converting the granary......

And a bathroom with hot water.

In the meantime, a photo of Preuilly from the back road to Boussay. You wouldn't believe from this photo that most of Preuilly is nestled in a valley


Friday 9 November 2007

Abbaye Saint Pierre

This is a view of the Eastern End of the Abbaye. According to John James on his blog, Preuilly had the "first great rose window - 1160s" but I think this must refer to another Preuilly - certainly there is no evidence of a rose window in the Abbaye in Preuilly-sur-Claise. If there was you would be able to see it in this pic.

The Abbaye was founded in the year 1001, and in 1012 a monastry was founded. The date over the door is 1009 (the year of consecration) and the 900th year anniversary of the Abbaye was celebrated in 1909. This means the 1000th birthday of the building will be celebrated in 2009. I wonder if they will have cake?


Tuesday 6 November 2007

Boats in Richelieu

As mentioned in aprevious entry, there are boats available for hire in the gardens of Richelieu's chateau.

I have a feeling this we will have to do this one day - punting on the moat anyone?


Sunday 4 November 2007


We have been really quite surprised by Poitiers. As you drive towards the town from Preuilly, it looks really unprepossessing - all you see is a power sub-station and what looks like a series of tower blocks built on a hill. Once you cross the river (the Clain) you are left in no doubt this is an old city - narrow streets, old buildings, and a lot of very old churches.

We have visited three of these:

Notre Dame le Grande is in the middle of town, opposite the Palais de Justice. The present church owes a lot to Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 11th century, but there are records of an earlier church on the same site. The interior of the church is highly decorated with frescoes and memorials.

This memorial really interested Susan. Such a fashionable group of people!
There is another picture of this church here.

Cathedral St-Pierre.
The cathedral in Poitiers was also started under the orders of Eleanor of Aquitaine. It has 13th century carved wooden choir stalls, some important stained glass, and a late 18th century organ.

Eglise Ste-Radegonde.
This church incorporates the 6th century tomb of St Radegonde, the founder of the first convent in France. This is another highly decorated church, with frescoes and ancient stained glass.

There are other places of interest in Poitiers, including the baptistry and a rather good looking (if not terribly attractive) market.

We will be exploring further, so no doubt there will be more photos


Friday 2 November 2007

A Dirty Kitchen

Part of the "having the roof replaced" exercise involved having the chimneys demolished. The chimney over the kitchen will one day contain the pipework for the hob fan, but at the moment it is a grimy, greasy, soot laden hole into the kitchen down which stuff can fall.

The top of the chimney was demolished while I was out, causing all the sooty grease (probably a couple of hundred years worth) to fall into the kitchen. It took 6 hours (and a bottle of gas*) to clean.

* We don't have hot water in the house. To get hot water we have to heat it on a gas stove.