Vauclair Abbey Ruins

Bouconville-Vauclair, France

Vauclair Abbey was a Cistercian monastery located in what is now the commune of Bouconville-Vauclair.

The monastery was built about 15 kilometers to the south of Laon in an east-west stretch of the Ailette river valley at the foot of the northern side of the Chemin des Dames, on a site already occupied by a church, in the present commune of Bouconville-Vauclair. The site was ceded to Bernard with all its rights and dependencies. On 23 May 1134 a group of monks from Clairvaux Abbey, headed by the Englishman Henry Murdac, its first abbot, took possession of the new abbey, the 15th daughter house of Clairvaux. Its favourable east-west orientation led Bernard to name it Vauclair (Vallis clara), reversing the name of the mother abbey (Clara vallis). Supported by gifts from rich families, the abbey quickly prospered and was given several estates and farms.

In 1142, on the initiative of Bernard and of Hatto, bishop of Troyes, Le Reclus Abbey north of Sézanne was made subsidiary to Vauclair. In 1167, at the request of Henry I of Champagne, count palatine of Champagne, Vauclair Abbey sent monks to found La Charmoye Abbey not far from Épernay. The Hundred Years' War and the 16th-century French Wars of Religion heavily damaged Vauclair, though it managed to survive until the French Revolution in 1789, when it was finally demolished and sold as 'national property'. Its geographical location very near to the Chemin des Dames led to what was left of its buildings being almost totally destroyed in 1917 by direct artillery bombardment. Only ruins now remain.

Following excavations in 1966 by a local association led by a young Belgian Jesuit, Père René Courtois, who lived in the abbey from 1966 until his death in 2005, the site was made a monument historique in 1970. The site now also includes an arboretum of apple and pear trees and a medicinal herb garden planned by Courtois and opened in 1976.



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Founded: 1134
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rian Gonzales-de Ravel (12 months ago)
An overall wonderful experience. It was easy to navigate the area with maps provided and signs leading you precisely where you're looking for! A nice to walk with ypur dogs also ?
Chris Bradfield (14 months ago)
A lovely, silent retreat. An easy cycle if you're staying at Center Parcs.
Kathryn Jones (14 months ago)
Very cool ruins, public toilets available
William Stein (2 years ago)
I tasted the 6.1 percent ale.It is quite good, reminding me of Jeanlin,a bit bitter, could make a nice beer if kept longer.
sheena chapman (2 years ago)
Set in a beautiful walk, surounded by the gardens in winter. Really happy with the large picnic tables near the parking area ??
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