The Tour Tanguy is a medieval tower on a rocky motte beside the Penfeld river in Brest. Probably built during the Breton War of Succession, it faces the château de Brest and is now accessed by a road off the square Pierre Péron, at one end of the pont de Recouvrance. It now houses the Museum of Old Brest, a museum with a collection of dioramas that depict the city of Brest on the eve of World War II.
Probably built to protect or block crossings between the two banks of the river, the tower's origins cannot be precisely determined. It may have been built by the English during their occupation of the city in the 14th century, or earlier by lord Tanguy du Chastel, of the line of lords of Quilbignon which distinguished itself in battles against the English in Brittany and contributed to the development of the right bank. The name bastille de Quilbignon gives places to that of tour Tanguy, a forename held by members of this line. Their arms are engraved below the tower's gate. The family's powerbase was at the château de Trémazan at Landunvez.
Jean de Montfort handed it over to the English in 1341, but it was restored to his son John V, Duke of Brittany in 1397. Until about 1580, the tower was the seat of justice for the lords of Le Châtel, and it was neglected after that date, becoming the property of the Rohan-Guéméné family in 1786 before becoming a French royal possession and finally being sold to a Mr Gabon on the French Revolution.
In 1862, it was bought by the architect Barillé who turned it into his house, cutting windows and building on its top a sort of Chinese-style roof over a kiosk or pavilion. Its last occupant and private owner, doctor Joseph Thielmans, left it after it caught fire during the bombardment of 1944 (the bombing also destroyed the pavilion). It was acquired by the town of Brest on 15 July 1954 and summarily repaired, but its state worsened once more and its future was compromised by the redevelopment of the Recouvrance quarter. In 1959 the town finally charged the painter Jim_Sévellec with evoking the town's past, of which few remains were left. The tower was restored and opened as the Museum of Old Brest on 25 July 1962. In 1971, a turret was added and the Neo Gothic cornice along the battlements replaced to restore the tower to its medieval shape.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).