St. Peter's Church

Chartres, France

Saint Peter’s (Saint-Pierre) church was formerly an abbey church of the Benedictines. The abbey church was founded in the 7th century with the help of Queen Bathilde, the wife of Clovis II. The most important vestige of the church is a convent buildings located on the south side, later rebuilt in early 18th century, and nowadays served as a school named Lycee Marceau.

The church was destroyed several times by Normans between 858 and 911. It has also been damaged by fire in 1077 and 1134. Reconstruction of the apse and ambulatory has taken in 1165 under the direction of Bilduard with less financial support. The tomb of Gilduin, a bishop of Breton, who died in 1077 and buried in the church was discovered during the work. This discovery encouraged donations from the congregations and allowed the continuation of the reconstruction of the church and also supported the construction of Chartres cathedral tour and royal portal.

The most ancient part of the church is the bell tower on the west side, built around the year 1000 AD. The nave and the aisles date from the early 13th century. The church was finally completed around the year 1320. During French revolution, the church has seized and served as a saltpeter factory - then finally returned to its original function as a worship place in 1803 and nowadays regularly host the Organ Festival. St. Peter’s church opens from Monday to Friday at 2pm to 6pm and you can enter the church for free.

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Details

Founded: ca. 1000 AD
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

More Information

www.discover-chartres.com

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Bernard Brinkworth (2 years ago)
Good food and price
Vadim Cherny (2 years ago)
Beautifully arrange window lighting
Jane Etherton dite Madame Thermomix (2 years ago)
Totally amazing church whose stained glass windows are illuminated from the inside at night, producing the most beautiful effect! The "Chartres en Lumières" visual light media show runs throughout the city from April to October and the Église St Pierre is one of the most beautiful edifices. We took the Little Train (Le Petit Train) from the Cathedral square and saw all the illuminated sites, and went back to St Pierre to get a second look. Fantastic!
Charles Liem (2 years ago)
This church is in poor condition with molds everywhere. The ceiling is also flakey so they had to put a net to protect people from the falling debris
Defontaine Sylvain (3 years ago)
Superbe édifice, prenez le temps d'une prière.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.