Friday, 4 December 2020

Les Roches Tranchelion

Up on a hill near the village of Avons les Rochers sit the ruins of Les Roches Tranchelion -- an imposing church and a medieval castle. The church dates from the 1520s and was consecrated as a funerary chapel and parish church, replacing the castle's private chapel. Despite its ruinous state it retains some very fine carvings and the vaulting is more than 12 metres above the ground. The castle is older, 15th century, and all that remain are the lower parts of a square tower and the southern wall, equipped with murder holes and a network of underground casemates, all of which is being taken over by vegetation.

Seraphims on the entrance to the ruined church at Les Roches Tranchelions, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Seraphim surmounted by scallop shells on the entrance to the ruined church.

It was in this castle that Charles VII gathered his Great Council in the summer of 1449 before heading out on the last campaign to kick the English out of France and end the Hundred Years War.

The ruined castle of Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The ruined castle.

At one time it was the property of the Montgomery family. In 1559 the castle became a temporary refuge for Gabriel de Lorges, Count of Montgomery, Captain of the Scots Guard (the King's bodyguards) after he had inadvertently mortally wounded King Henri II in a joust at the end of June of that year. He spent the July here then fled to England in August.

A high-relief sculpture depicting God the Father, Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
A high-relief sculpture of God the Father, delivering a benediction with his right hand and holding a globe in his left.

Even though it is so damaged, the highly carved western end of the church remains one of the best examples of 16th century religious art in the Touraine, along with the church at Montrésor, the chapel at the Chateau of Ussé, and the chapel at Champigny sur Veude. The church itself is a double aisled nave, with a vaulted transept, vaulted crypt under the choir and semi-octagonal apse. It was more or less abandoned in 1600, only being used sporadically until the Revolution, when it was totally abandoned.

Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Les Roches Tranchelion.

A number of legends are associated with the site, and amazingly, the one about buried treasure turned out to be true. One day in 1966 some young men were working on improving the access to the chapel and they saw right in front of them a large hole opening up. Six or seven metres down they found 214 French and Spanish coins dating from between 1563 and 1618.

Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Les Roches Tranchelion.

The castle was already destroyed by the 17th century, but the church survived until after the Revolution, when it became the victim of ignorance and vandalism.

Western front of the ruined church at Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The western front of the church.

Graffiti inside the ruined church of Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The inside of the church is covered in graffiti from several centuries.

Ruined church of Les Roches Tranchelion, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Looking up at the ruined church.

Decorative medallions on the western front of the ruined church of Les Roches Tranchelion.  Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Decorative medallions on the western front of the church, depicting, by the look of it, acanthus foliage, a mercenary soldier and a Greek scolar.

Vaulted transept in the ruined church of Les Roches Tranchelion. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Vaulting in the transept of the church.

 


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9 comments:

chm said...

Do you know if these ruins are maintained in some way?
Thak you for these interesting posts about lesser known landmarks.

melinda said...

hauntingly beautiful

Ricks Carson, Atlanta said...

Concrete and steel will never equal stone for truth.

Susan said...

Yes, I assume the municipality is responsible for them. Access is maintained, and I'm sure if they required building work the money would be found -- probably from higher up the admin chain.

Susan said...

The church is considered a rather mystical place by many locals.

Susan said...

Really? Why? I don't know what you mean.

chm said...

What about the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain, built entirely of concrete and reinforced concrete?

Ricks Carson, Atlanta said...

It's an interesting conversation. I'm sure other examples of modern construction of religious sites exist. I don't for a moment deny their beauty. My observation has a strongly emotional basis: thst stones may be said to be living things (as Bernini commented about marble) and exude an ancient life from way before humans had evolved. All human emotions seek stone for its enduring impermanence, a kind of trick we want to believe in in the face of the truth that nothing lasts forever. Also, for me anyway, concrete just seems more quick and mass-produced than meditative and of the earth. Your many posts of old villages and churches and bridges and ruins are hugely awesome and quietly profound: thank you!

Susan said...

Glad you are enjoying the photos.

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