Notre-Dame de Carentan was built in the 11th century. It is mentioned for the first time in 1106 at the time of the visit of Henry I of England, on Easter day. From the Romanesque period there remain only the west door, the lower part of the pillars and the four main pillars of the crossing with the Romanesque arches.
During the Hundred Years' War in in 1443 the church was in ruins. Reconstruction started first with the nave and the south aisle. Guillaume de Cerisay, a knight and bailiff, richly endowed the church. Its surface area was doubled with the construction of the choir, ambulatories and the north aisle, about 1466. The inauguration took place in 1470. In 1517, the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) was added and the end of the choir. From the same period are the screen surrounding the choir and about fifteen stained glass windows.
In June 1944, American bombers, at the time of D-Day, caused serious damage to the spire, the west door and the choir. The organ was badly damaged, stained glass shattered, the roof holed and the clock damaged. Fortunately, in 1940 the old stained glass had been taken out and stored in the countryside.
The church interior is decorated with paintings from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In the choir, in the middle of the magnificent reredos behind the high altar (1655), one can admire a very beautiful “Assumption of the Virgin”, the work of Jacques de la Haie, probably from Falaise, painted for Notre-Dame in 1658. This picture is listed by the Beaux-Arts (French National Arts School), and is certainly the outstanding work in the church.References:
Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.
The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.
The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.