Monasteries in France

Tournay Abbey

A priory was first established on the site of Tournay Abbey in the 11th century, which became an abbey in the 17th century. It was suppressed during the French Revolution. A new abbey was founded in the 1930s in Madiran and was transferred to Tournay in 1952, the year after construction of a new monastery. The building was completed in 1958. The abbey remains active and houses a community of approximately 20 monks ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Tournay, France

Bricquebec Abbey

Bricquebec Abbeyn (Notre-Dame de Grâce de Bricquebec) was founded in 1824 by father Bon Onfroy. The abbey church was completed in 1834 and the priory was established in 1836.
Founded: 1824 | Location: Bricquebec, France

Saint-Sever-Calvados Abbey

Saint-Sever-Calvados Abbey was founded by Guillaume Sanche, the lord of Gascony in the late 10th century. According to the monastic chronicles, this was as the result of a vow he made after the battle of Taller, in Gascony, in which he defeated the Vikings (982). In 1060, after a fire, the abbey was reconstructed on the model of Cluny under the direction of the abbot Gregori de Montaner. The Saint-Sever Beatus was the wor ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Saint-Sever-Calvados, France

Savigny Abbey Ruins

Savigny Abbey (Abbaye de Savigny) was founded by Vital de Mortain, who set up a hermitage in the forest of Savigny (1105). Rudolph, lord of Fougeres, confirmed to the monastery (1112) the grants he had formerly made to Vital, and from then dates the foundation of the monastery. Its growth was rapid, and Vital and Saint Aymon were canonized. In 1119 Pope Celestine II, then in Angers, took it under his immediate protection ...
Founded: 1105 | Location: Savigny-le-Vieux, France

Loc-Dieu Abbey

Founded in 1123 in a place formerly called Locus Diaboli (Latin for 'devil"s place') due to the large number of dolmens around it, tm abbey was renamed Locus Dei in Latin by the monks, which in French became Loc-Dieu, both meaning the 'place of God'. Burnt down by the English in 1409, it was rebuilt in 1470, and the abbey was fortified. The abbey was suppressed and its assets sold off as nat ...
Founded: 1123 | Location: Martiel, France

Cornilly Abbey Ruins

Hervé de Donzy, the Lord of Saint Aignan established Cornilly Abbey in the 11th century. It was authorized by Pope Urbanus II in 1091. The abbey grew rapidly, but in the 1357 it was destroyed by English Black Prince troops during the Hundred Years" War. Monks rebuilt the abbey, but it was again destroyed by religious fanatics in 1562. It was not rebuilt again and in the Revolution (1789) it was moved as a nati ...
Founded: 1091 | Location: Contres, France

Montebourg Abbey

Montebourg Abbey was probably established by William the Conqueror after the invasion to England (1066). The exact date is unknown, but it was before William"s death in 1087. The abbey got lot of donations from the Dukes of Normandy and Kings of England until the 1180s. It had a large land property even in the southern England and the abbey grew up quickly in the 12th century. The abbey suffered damages in the Hundr ...
Founded: 1066-1087 | Location: Montebourg, France

Clairmarais Abbey Ruins

Clairmarais owes its origin to the famous Cistercian abbey founded by St. Bernard in 1140. He gave the village the name of Claromarisco (later to be Clarus Mariscus and then Clermarez) because of the huge marshes and many rivers in the vicinity. The Dutch Klaarmares and West Flemish Cleremeersch names reflect the nature of the terrain, too. Clairmarais became a fully-fledged common in 1790 when the abbey was going to be d ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Clairmarais, France

Preuilly Abbey

Preuilly Abbey, the fifth daughter house of Cîteaux Abbey, was founded in 1118 by Stephen Harding on a site provided by Theobald of Blois, Count of Champagne. The first abbot was Arthaud. The abbey soon became prosperous and founded its own daughter houses, Vauluisant Abbey (1129) and Barbeau Abbey (1148). In 1146 La Colombe Abbey, founded some years previously, joined the Cistercian Order and put itself under the s ...
Founded: 1118 | Location: Égligny, France

Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey

Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey was founded in 1137 by Foulques, lord of Marcilly, and his son Guillaume. It was settled by monks from Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey, as a member of the congregation of Savigny Abbey. The abbey was soon able to settle a foundation of its own, that of La Trappe Abbey in 1140. In 1147 the Savigniac houses became part of the Cistercian movement, among them Breuil-Benoît, which was made a daughter ho ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Marcilly-sur-Eure, France

La Trappe Abbey

La Trappe Abbey is the house of origin of Reformed Cistercians or Trappists, to whom it gave its name. It began as a small oratory chapel to the Virgin Mary, built in 1122 by Rotrou III, Count of Perche, as a memorial to his wife Matilda (n illegitimate daughter of Henry I, who drowned in the White Ship disaster of 1120). A few years later Rotrou built a monastery adjoining, which he offered to the monks of Le Breuil-Beno ...
Founded: 1122 | Location: Soligny-la-Trappe, France

Sainte-Marie du Désert Abbey

Sainte-Marie du Désert Abbey was founded in 1852. It was raised to the status of priory in 1855, and to abbey in 1861. The abbey was founded on the pilgrimage site of Marie Desclassan's tomb, who lived in there eremitic life in 1109-1117.
Founded: 1852 | Location: Bellegarde-Sainte-Marie, France

Saint-Fromond Abbey

In 650 AD Fromond and some of his companions arrived to Brévands and established an abbey. Fromond became a bishop of Coutances he was died to the abbey in the year 690. In 871 Normans destroyed and looted the abbey. The new church was built in 1154 by Richard de Bohon, the bishop of Coutances. It was again destroyed by fire and the abbey church was rebuilt again with a massive Romanesque nave. It was demolished an ...
Founded: 1154 | Location: Saint-Fromond, France

Manoir de Brion

The Manoir de Brion, also known as the Château de Brion, is a former Benedictine priory of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. It was founded in 1137 by the abbot Bernard du Bec. Several kings and members of the royal court stayed at the Manoir de Brion while on pilgrimage to Mont Saint-Michel, including Charles VI in 1393, Louis XI in 1462 and Francis I of France in 1532. The explorer Jacques Cartier was also presented ...
Founded: 1137 | Location: Dragey-Ronthon, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.