Sunday, 17 February 2013

Church of St Martin at Ventouse



While driving back home a few weeks ago, through the rolling hills around St Angeau, we passed near the small village of Ventouse, and off to our left, we saw the tower of a lovely little church; this definitely warranted a diversion! The village is situated a few hundred metres north of a long straight east-west road built by the Romans to follow a low ridge through the landscape. The settlement bordered to the north by the river Sonnette, a narrow and very twisty tributary of the Charente. 



It is today home to only 121 inhabitants, but in the Middle Ages, it must have been important enough to warrant this very sturdily built place of worship!


The village church is dedicated to Saint Martin, was built in the 12th century in the Romanesque style and has been a monument protected by the French authorities since 1925. The photo above shows that it has undergone some modification in its history and several of the buttresses can be seen to be the worse for wear! The small single storey, more recent, extension seen on the right seemed to be the priest's accommodation!

The main entrance, with door open when we arrived...... but no-one about....

Available commentary on this feature over the front door refers to six corbels (the right hand one having presumably fallen off!), two of which represent the seven deadly sins. Working from the left, they are apparently Wrath (a man tearing his clothes), then a roughly carved and unidentified figure, the third being Gluttony (a man devouring a cake), fourth is a man wearing a barrel (is that a sin?!) and fifth, a man tearing his hair. The missing sixth corbel was a bird's head and between the corbels is further decoration showing a siren, a Sagittarius and a hunter with his dogs. It's fascinating to see subjects important to the sculptor and the villagers all those years ago!

 The very well preserved nave, looking towards the altar. This part of the church is said to measure about 180 square metres (roughly 2000 square feet)

I have been advised by my followers this is Saint Teresa, I gather that the fact she is holding roses is a give away. Not being a catholic I was unaware of this. The shrine is immaculately kept with fresh flowers.

Above and below, fragments of ancient wall painting; this rich decoration  must have been a delight to the parishioners all those hundreds of years ago, and the undoubted cost  of this embellishment gives a further hint of this small building's former importance!


The stone flag floor has seen some damage and wear in its life! Seating for 100 people, maybe?

This stone looks very old and I wonder if it is possibly part of the original font!!

After leaving, we encountered the above-mentioned river Sonnette, which was that day well and truly in flood. We seem to be in a spell of endless rain and even our lawn at home (and we are on high ground)  squelches with every step we take!

This was one of the first sunsets we had seen for ages and even this was very half hearted!







See also - My Life Before Charente Updated 17/02/2013

and my daily photo diary at http://photodiarydps.blogspot.fr/


Please note that 'The sun is shining and some time was spent in the garden' has been transferred with it comments to its rightful place at my daily   Photodiarydps.  Apologies for the error!



55 comments:

  1. what a beautiful church! i love old churches. isn't that st. teresa?

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    1. Thanks Jaz for the correction, not being a catholic I presumed it was the Virgin Mary. I have made a note on the post. Have a good day Diane

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  2. lovely adore historic churches and see you for dinner later

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    1. Thanks Rebecca, on our way ha ha. Have a good day Diane

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  3. These pictures are awesome I love old churchs are special, you know Im catholic but the most of all new church (beauty too) almost dont have saints!, I think this is Santa teresita del niño Jesus (By the roses) when she die all smell with roses, I love her.
    Thanks again by a lovely travel with you dear Diane, take care!!

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    1. Gloria thanks for confirming this is Saint Teresa as I am not catholic you and jaz have taught me something today! Take care and have a good week Diane

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    2. Diane I remember Santa Teresa was french! the other name of her is Santa Terese de Liseux (Im not sure if is good write) a pretty life and die so young!!

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    3. Thanks Gloria for you input, I really do appreciate it. Sometimes it is difficult for me to write up on churches as I am not catholic and I do not know some of the details as in this post. Thanks so much Diane

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  4. That would make rather a nice house (with quite a bit of restoration) wouldn't it Diane?
    Glad that you're getting sun at last - same here and I think it's to be dry all week - yippee!

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    1. Craig lots of work to restore me thinks.... It looks like we also have a week of no rain though they are threatening us with misty days! There is a lot of tiding up to do in the garden so I hope I can get out there. Have a good week. Diane

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  5. I love the corbels!

    Interesting post and place to visit.

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    1. Gaynot I wish I had of take the corbels on zoom. Only when we got home a looked up the history did we find how much there was of interest! Have a great week Diane

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  6. I love the simple style of the churches here, although at first I thought them spartan, but now I have come to enjoy their lack of ornateness, and the fact that they don't fill the insides of their churches with coffins and memorials to the dead!

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    1. Vera I love the churches here but you are right they are not nearly as fancy inside as some of the English ones. Mostly they have lots of history which we enjoy looking up. Take care, hope the floods go down this week, Diane

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  7. I now feel tempted to see what happens to one if wearing a barrel...
    As you say, it makes you wonder about the history of the village to have a church like that...

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    1. Ha ha Fly, can you imagine us all running around and rolling down hills in barrels, thanks for the laugh. It seems strange that such a small place should have a church like this, there must be more to the history that we found but..... Keep well Diane

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  8. You are blessed with so much history, and beauty around you. I love the old church. Wishing you a great week ahead. xx

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    1. Joyful I cannot believe I hated history at school, I now find it so interesting, and as you say we are lucky to be surrounded by it. Hope you also have a wonderful week. Take care Diane

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    2. Seems like so many place are getting lots of rain. Not only you in France, we here in Canada but also in Queensland, Australia and in Kenya now for quite some time. It's a wonder that we can stay dry. Yet the glaciers in Northern Canada are melting rapidly. It sounds so dismal but I guess the earth does go through cycles and having so many humans consuming everything in sight is no doubt a big factor. After those heavy thoughts, I hope you a lighter, brighter weekend. Have fun,

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  9. I just love looking at these old churches, beautiful stonework.
    We have had so much rain here too, I am actually getting a bit fed up with it. Today hasn't been a bad day though maybe we are going to have a good spell, here's hoping. Hope you get some nice weather too. :))

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    1. Ellie I can hardly believe it we have had 2 days of sun. It just makes such a difference even if it is not that hot. Keep well Diane

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  10. I love coming across old churches or other old structures to explore as we drive around our part of Provence. Thanks for sharing one of your finds. Have a great week.

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    1. Michel it amazes us how we just come across these places in what seems like the middle of nowhere, and there is very little written up about them. The French web sites are the best, but even there there is little info. Hope you have a good week also. Diane

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  11. It's amazing how many of these buildings have survived throughout Europe. And history comes alive after all these years.

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    1. Rosaria you are right,a lot have had restoration but it is amazing what has survived the wars. Take care Diane

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  12. Hello Diane:
    This is a delightful church and, as you say, well worth taking time to have a closer look. And, how lovely that the church was open without anyone around. It is so sad these days that this often cannot happen as the place would be vandalised.

    We are always fascinated by the attributes of saints in order to determine which saint is being depicted. We assume that this one is Saint Therese de Lisieux with the rose entwined crucifix.She looks charming and how wonderful that fresh flowers decorate the niche in which her statue resides.

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    1. Jane and Lance, I am so glad we spotted this church off the beaten track. We would have missed much of history to have driven straight by, which I would guess, most people would have done. If it was not for camera in hand, and on the outlook for photos we would probably have completely missed it! Hope you are both well, Diane

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  13. Is it terribly wicked of me to say I would love to live in a place like that? The walls are so gorgeous. What a remarkable place. Thanks so much for sharing

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    1. lostpastremembered there are many restored churches in the UK that have been turned into fantastic homes. I also love stone walls and we have them here at home. The only problem is they are amazing in summer as the house is always cool, but in winter it is very hard to get the walls to hold the heat in!! Keep well Diane

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  14. So cool! I love the doorways & windows and floor. So much history in that church.

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    1. Pam we are so lucky to have so much history around us. It is a case of seek and ye shall find :-) Keep well Diane

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  15. A beautiful church and so well photographed.... with your new camera?
    I can see the sun has not come through for you when you took these!
    It has for us for the last 2 days... at long last!
    Cheers Diane!

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    1. Yes Noushka the new camera ;-) I am getting on OK with it in some respects but struggling in others. I still refer to the Samsung if the sky looks remotely like a sunset. I have not mastered the Nikon for that at all!! We have also had two days of sun, what a difference it makes even though it is still quite chilly. Keep well Diane xx

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  16. A beautiful old church and very nice photos!!!
    Thank you my dear friend Diane for an interesting tour!
    many greetings

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    1. Magda it was a lovely church and one that surprised us with its history. Have a great day Diane

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  17. Detouring on the back roads usually leads to a nice discovery...the church was lovely. Hope your weather turns sunny and dry soon.

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    1. backroadjournal how right you are. When we drive from the UK to our home France we are always in a hurry and we are on the highways, we miss so much. It is time to plan a slow journey :-) We have had a couple of days of sun but it is going to turn very cold agasin tomorrow! Keep well Diane

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  18. Une bien jolie promenade.
    merci pour cette ballade.
    A bientôt

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    1. C'est un plaisir, je suis heureux que vous appréciez. Bonne journée Diane

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  19. In some places, people scoff at buildings which are very outdated, having been built in the 1970s or even the 1960s! I love really old buildings, and marvel at the workmanship that lets them stand for so long!

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    1. Marjie I am getting to enjoy the old buildings and their history more and more. Keep well Diane

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  20. To be surrounded by so much history is a gift. I'm so glad you take the time to share it with us. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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    1. Mary I love it and I enjoy sharing. It amazes me how I hated history when I was at school! Take care Diane

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  21. Beautiful church Diane. We did a circular walk from St Angeau last year and it was beautiful. I can't remember if it included Ventouse but it definitely look like a village to visit. Kerry x

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    1. Kerry there are so many beautiful places around Charente but it is not always easy to track down the history! Keep warm Diane xx

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  22. What fantastic architecture and details!

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    1. Thanks so much for your visit and comment, I really do appreciate it. There is so many interesting places herewith so much history behind them. Have a great weekend Diane

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  23. I always enjoy my virtual tours of the Charente region and appreciate you sharing your trips with us Diane.

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    1. Thanks Linda, I hope that things are going a little better for you both. I think of you so often and worry about what you are going through at the moment. Take care Diane xx

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  24. What a lovely old church Diane. I am sure if those floors could talk they would have many tales to tell.

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    1. Joan if only those walls and floors could talk it would save me hours of research :-) Diane

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  25. You can tell by the look of the walls how the building survive the test of time. Beautiful captures. I love the refection shot!

    Have a great weekend Diane.

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    1. Thanks Rose, I always like reflections. Take care Diane

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  26. Dear Diane, Thank you for visiting and for your good wishes. It means more than you know.
    I would love to visit a church such as this. The history and the age of this church is alluring. I would be fascinated. xoxo Catherine

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    1. Catherine thanks so much for the visit, you have so much on your mind at the moment. The history on most of the churches around us is quite incredible but not always easy to track it down! Keep well and I hope you are soon back home and cooking once more. Have a good week Diane

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