Saint-Sever-Calvados Abbey

Saint-Sever-Calvados, France

Saint-Sever-Calvados Abbey was founded by Guillaume Sanche, the lord of Gascony in the late 10th century. According to the monastic chronicles, this was as the result of a vow he made after the battle of Taller, in Gascony, in which he defeated the Vikings (982). In 1060, after a fire, the abbey was reconstructed on the model of Cluny under the direction of the abbot Gregori de Montaner. The Saint-Sever Beatus was the work of monks working under the direction of the same abbot; Abbot Gregori held the post from 1028 to 1072.

Today there is a Gothic abbey church and a bell-tower on opposite sides of the square. There were centuries when people built, and others when they did not hesitate to split a building in two. The choir was a Benedictine enclosure, with the other half open to the people. However, except for the tower, this second half of the church has not been survived. The French Revolution drove the monks away and the abbey was closed.

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Kirkjubøargarður

Kirkjubøargarður ('Yard of Kirkjubøur', also known as King"s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world. The farm itself has always been the largest in the Faroe Islands. The old farmhouse dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. Sverre I of Norway (1151–1202), grew up here and went to the priest school. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up. Note, that there is no forest in the Faroes and wood is a very valuable material. Many such wood legends are thus to be found in Faroese history.

The oldest part is a so-called roykstova (reek parlour, or smoke room). Perhaps it was moved one day, because it does not fit to its foundation. Another ancient room is the loftstovan (loft room). It is supposed that Bishop Erlendur wrote the 'Sheep Letter' here in 1298. This is the earliest document of the Faroes we know today. It is the statute concerning sheep breeding on the Faroes. Today the room is the farm"s library. The stórastovan (large room) is from a much later date, being built in 1772.

Though the farmhouse is a museum, the 17th generation of the Patursson Family, which has occupied it since 1550, is still living here. Shortly after the Reformation in the Faroe Islands in 1538, all the real estate of the Catholic Church was seized by the King of Denmark. This was about half of the land in the Faroes, and since then called King"s Land (kongsjørð). The largest piece of King"s Land was the farm in Kirkjubøur due to the above-mentioned Episcopal residence. This land is today owned by the Faroese government, and the Paturssons are tenants from generation to generation. It is always the oldest son, who becomes King"s Farmer, and in contrast to the privately owned land, the King"s Land is never divided between the sons.

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