The whitewashed church in Bjerre has a choir and nave from Romanesque period with a late Gothic tower to the west and a later porch to the south. The Romanesque building is in travertine without any visible plinth, and it has not kept special original details. In the late Gothic period was in the choir built one, in the nave three cross vaults and the choir arch was extended. At almost the same time the tower was added withan eight rib-vault in the bottom room and a round tower arch. In the north wall of the tower is a straight-running stairway up to the middle storey. The porch is built in monk bricks but it has no dated details.
The altar piece is a Renaissance structure from ab. 1630 with two pillars. It was decorated in 1741 and repaired in 1939. The present painting, Christ is healing a sick, was painted by Anker Lund in 1892; an earlier painting, The Crucifixion, hangs above the exit door. Altar chalice from 1774 with names and coat of arms of Hans Helmer Lüttichau and wife. Balustershaped Baroque candelabres, from ab. 1650. The Romanesque granite font has a rather roughly carved basin with large lions and a dragon in flat-relief, divided by trees. The round foot has corner-knots. A South German dish with engraved coat of arms of Walkendorf and Egern-Friis. A sounding board from the beginning of the 1700s, similar to the choir desk, which has naive biblical paintings. Upon the desk stand two late Gothic small-figures of Virgin Mary and Sct Laurentius. A torso of an indefinable crucifix-figure is at Glud Museum.
A pulpit in Renaissance, ab. 1630, with Tuscany corner pillars and a contemporary sounding board. An interesting early Gothic bell from ab. 1325-50, without inscription, but with seal imprint, which in the shield shows a murtinde (wall peak) and the word 'Nicles...nes'. In the porch two very worn out gravestones from the late 1700s with naive Evangelist symbols.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).