Le Breuil-Benoît Abbey was founded in 1137 by Foulques, lord of Marcilly, and his son Guillaume. It was settled by monks from Vaux-de-Cernay Abbey, as a member of the congregation of Savigny Abbey. The abbey was soon able to settle a foundation of its own, that of La Trappe Abbey in 1140. In 1147 the Savigniac houses became part of the Cistercian movement, among them Breuil-Benoît, which was made a daughter house of the filiation of Clairvaux.
In 1421 the troops of Henry V of England occupied the abbey, set the church on fire, plundered the conventual buildings and killed the monks.
By 1762 the monastery, which had meanwhile fallen into the hands of commendatory abbots, comprised only two monks. It was dissolved in 1790 during the French Revolution and partly demolished. it has been classed as a monument historique since 1993.
In the grounds, converted into a park, the church still stands, the only extant Cistercian church in Normandy. Restoration works were carried out in 1855, and further works have been in progress since 1995. Built between 1190 and 1224, the Gothic church contains a vaulted nave and two aisles of six spans. The west front has two lancet windows, two oculi and a double door. The western walls of the transept remain, as do the five radiating chapels that form the semi-circular chevet behind the choir. The abbot's house, converted into a gentleman's residence in the 1550s, is also still extant, but most of the other buildings have disappeared.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.