Completed in the first half of the twelfth century, Hover Church is one of the oldest churches in Denmark. In 1771, the church's west gable was damaged by a storm. A heavy buttress now supports one wall. The porch was built in the 1500s in late Gothic style on the south side of the church, where the men's entrance once was. The women's entrance was on the north side of the church. The frescoes are dated to the 16th century. In 1907, a fresco was uncovered on the chancel arch wall depicting Isaac's sacrifice, possibly after a woodcut in Christian III's Bible. There were traces of earlier frescoes but they have now been covered with limewash. Restoration work was carried out in the 1960s.
Emulating the design of earlier wooden churches and standing on a sloping foundation, Hover Church is built of hewn granite in the Romanesque style. The nave is rectangular, thechancel is almost square, and the four simply-glazed windows are small and high. Unlike most other Danish churches, Hover does not have a bell tower, but instead has a small bell that hangs under an overhang on the east gable.
The church interior is very similar to other Danish churches. It has a pulpit, altar, baptismal font, organ and benches. It has a flat ceiling and a rounded chancel arch. The altar is of solid granite blocks while the altarpiece (late 17th century) displays a copy of the painting Vandringen til Emmaus by Anton Dorph (original in the Emmaus Church, Frederiksberg). The pulpit (1596) shows the four Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The font is as old as the church itself. It was previously painted and later acid-washed. The organ (1968) was built by Frobenius Orgelbyggeri and is equipped with 8 votes distributed between one manual and pedal. One of the chair backs in the church has a motif with a crossbow with the date 1575.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).