In contrast to near St. Lawrence's Church, Drothem church was referred to as the 'peasant's church' and used as a parish church by the rural population rather than the strictly urban. The present church was probably preceded by a wooden church on approximately the same site. Remains of a Franciscan monastery have been excavated in the close vicinity of Drothem church, leading scholars to believe that the church started its history as part of the monastery, which in turn was founded on land donated from the royal manor nearby.
The first written records mentioning the church date from 1307, but construction of the church started sometime during the second half of the 13th century. The present-day vestry is the oldest part of the church. Later alterations have been plentiful, as the church has been damaged both by fire on several occasions, and also in war, during the Northern Seven Years' War when Danish troops under the command of Daniel Rantzau caused damage to the church. In 1586, the church was still in disrepair and the congregation pleaded to the king (John III of Sweden) to help funding the repairs.
The church is built of stone with some details made of brick, and whitewashed. Both the west and the east façades are decorated with blind arches and crow-stepped gables. Heavy buttresses support the building. The roof is made of shingle. The church has an external belfry.
Inside, the church is divided into a nave and two aisles by two rows of pillars, carrying Gothic vaults. The altarpiece is from Germany, made in 1512 and, according to a note written in medieval German found in the altar, by a craftsman called Vlögel. The baptismal font is from the 13th century. Other noteworthy interior details include the pulpit, from 1704, and an altar painting from the 17th century, originally forming part of an epitaph.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).