Friday, 11 April 2014

Les Salles Lavauguyon and surrounding area

There is so much of interest here, that I took 61 photos!!; I whittled these down, with the hope that I have picked the best. The village lies just over Charente's eastern border, in the Haute-Vienne, close to the perimeter of a huge crater created by a meteorite 200 million years ago - of which more another time! The settlement has a fascinating more-recent history, as you will see below.

The smaller sign above is written, I suspect, in either the language of Occitan (Oc) or a dialect (Oïl), which was spoken by the peoples of the region in medieval times. Both these words means "yes" in the respective languages, but the latter is now unfortunately reported as becoming extinct.


The very imposing mairie!

A street scene, with village shop, providing groceries and many other useful services, like gas bottles, Wi-Fi, mail box and photocopying! Few of these local businesses have survived supermarket competition, so the villagers have a rare treasure here!

The sign marks a local tourist route, set up to honour Richard the Lionheart (King Richard I of England from 1189 to his death in 1199), who spent much of his time in the region during the latter part of the 12th century as a ruler and commander, notably in the Third Crusade against Saladin. His mother was Eleanor of Aquitaine, the wife of Henry II, and he spoke in the local dialects mentioned above.
The village was also on the pilgrim route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, so it must have been an important and busy place, with travellers always passing to and fro. 

The church was commenced in 1075 and dedicated to Saint Eutrope, who was a regional bishop, martyred in the 3rd century. It is a striking example of Romanesque architecture, but having unfortunately been sited both on quite a steep slope (as you can see above) and next to a spring, it suffered greatly from damp and a slippery earth floor. This was was only levelled and paved in the 19th century!

Close up of decorative arches and carving over the entrance door


The church underwent major reconstruction in the 12th century when the priory was added. Built to accommodate a chapter of 12 religious men, who were of a status senior to monks, it originally comprised only two rooms, a ground floor communal room (still used today!) and a dormitory above.

The nave and altar

Ancient masonry and stained glass windows

View towards the entrance door.

The following series of photos are of the magnificent 12th century frescoes,  only discovered by accident in 1986, when restoration work required the removal of walling which had been covering them!

The themes, high quality and the richness of their colours make them unique in western Europe.

Panels depict scenes from both the old and new testaments, which include the 'Creation' (Adam and Eve) and the 'Nativity' (Birth of Jesus), as well as illustrations of the vices, greed, violence, vanity and lust, and the brutal death of Saint-Eutrope. Other frescoes on the south and north walls continue the themes with dedications to male and female saints (all of whom where martyrs) and priors.

A side doorway with wall statue

Presumably a font; note how the floor paving has been roughly taken up so as to accommodate the base!

A niche dedicated to Saint Eutrophe, now sadly lacking the effigy

Moving 2 kilometres down the road to the neighbouring hamlet, simply,  but confusingly, called Lavauguyon, where the lavoir, originally providing the village's laundry facility, can be found beside a bridge over this small watercourse.


Lavaugyon is also the site of a 12th century ruined castle, which must have seen action in the times of Richard the Lionheart

It is now slowly being restored by voluntary labour, but I hope they get on with the work before it collapses and disappears for ever!

This looks serious!

The  prominent memorial, sited on a green next to the church, to those of the village who gave their lives in the Great War of 1914-18.


See also My Life Before Charente (updated 30 March)
and my daily blog


53 comments:

  1. I adore this tour with you and your photos. I love old stone buildings, especially churches with a rich history. Have you seen the great movie "The Way", starring Martin Sheen and produced and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez? It is about the Pilgrim Walk in northern Spain, fictional characters walking the route.

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    1. Terra we so seldom ever see a movie..... no we have not seen The Way, Thanks so much for your visit and comment much appreciated. Hope that you have a good weekend. Diane

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  2. Marvelous documentary! I just love how you share these treasures with us.

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    1. Rosaria I am not often taken by frescoes but these were very special and they were in amazingly good shape, certainly treasures worth looking after. Have a good weekend Diane

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  3. I have never been in "Haute Vienne". France being such a small country, it is amazing that all the departments can be so different from one another, with different languages, traditions, history, weather, landscape…

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    1. Nadege this church was particularly stunning. We have driven by it many times, I cannot believe what we have missed in historic value. Hopefully this post has made up for it. Have a wonderful weekend Diane

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  4. I've never had the opportunity to visit this part of France. I don't know why, perhaps because a sense of what life in the community must have been for women of that time, but the public lavoir always fascinates me.
    Sam

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    1. Sam I am not sure that women had it any different here to anywhere else in the world during this era. I love the lavoirs and I can just imagine the amount of scandal that must have gone in during the wash times :-) Hope your weekend is a good one. Diane

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  5. Wow, Diane, this is fascinating and gorgeous. I love that street scene! I can picture myself enjoying a walk there.

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    1. Linda this is an amazing little village and to think we have driven by so many times not realised what we were missing! Keep well Diane

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  6. That church is stunning, both the architecture and the frescoes...and you've taken some superb photographs to illustrate your tour.
    Isn't it amazing how treasures like this can be on your doorstep!

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    1. Fly This place is really quite special and it is the first time we have stopped to look at it properly. As you say there are so many interesting things almost on the doorstep!! Hope that you are both well. Diane

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  7. The frescoes are quite stunning. Having been covered up for so many years they are beautifully preserved.

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    1. Rusty Duck it is amazing how well they have been preserved but it is hard to understand why anyone should want to cover them in the first place! Have a good week Diane

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  8. Another lovely place that's so worthy of exploration. You've reminded me yet again that there are so many places that I passed by and failed to explore when I used to travel around France. I'm always pleased to see pictures of lavoirs. For some reason I find them fascinating. Maybe it's because I'm always the one doing the laundry round here.

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    1. Ha ha Phil I also love the lavoirs, they are so different and many are very interesting. We have been driving back and forth through this village without giving it a second look, it is so easy to miss these amazing little bits of history. When we drive from the UK to here I always wonder what we are missing just off to the side of the road! Have a good week, Diane

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  9. With sliding soil over time I'm amazed any of the church survived, especially the stained-glass windows. The frescoes are brilliant. I so enjoy your tours back in time. And I'm sure glad we don't do laundry like that anymore.

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    1. Ha Ha Gaelyn, doing the washing in those lavoirs would be fine if just on a camping holiday but then what about the spin dryer? Not that I ever use the latter anyway it is gathering dust in the barn! These historic buildings are amazing and hopefully this church is on its way to a complete restoration. Does it seem strange to be back home again? Keep well Diane

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  10. Hello Diane:

    What an exceedingly attractive village which, so clearly, continues to serve well its inhabitants. But for us it is the church which totally captures our attention. What a magnificent example of the Romanesque in every respect.

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    1. Hi Jane and Lance, the church was a total surprise to me and the frescoes are quite remarkable. Amazing how many times we have driven by without stopping. It seems that every little hamlet in France has a treasure of some kind, you just have to find it :-) Keep well Diane

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  11. What a beautiful place to visit. The frescoes are so beautiful and I do love lavoirs. I can just imagine the ladies have a good matter while doing their washing x

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    1. Kerry it is going to be interesting to see what is in your direction, we have not been that way very much. I am sure that you are going to come up with lots of surprises there as well. You must be getting very excited :-) Keep well and have a good week. Diane xx

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  12. Πολύ ωραίες οι φωτογραφίες σου αγαπητή μου Diane και ευχαριστώ για τις πολύτιμες γνώσεις που μας χάρισες!
    Σας εύχομαι καλό Πάσχα με υγεία και χαρά!
    Πολλά φιλιά

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    1. Thanks Magda for the kind comment and a Happy Easter to you as well. Diane

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  13. You always find beautiful churches and cathedrals! This is a charming little town, and the lavoire is not that dissimilar to the one you showed us a while back. I'm sure all 61 of your pictures were wonderful, and the ones you selected were outstanding.

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    1. Marjie it never ceases to amaze me how such a small village can have so much to see and such an interesting history. I hope that you are all well and that you have a great Easter. Take care Diane

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  14. I am glad you took lots of photos as you have made an interesting photographic virtual tour, thankyou.

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    1. Thanks Linda, this is quite an amazing little place. I cannot believe that we have driven by so many time without stopping before! Have a good Easter and take care Diane

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  15. What an amazing place and reminder of history. The frescos must have been an exciting find.

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    1. diane the frescoes must have been very exciting for the people who first saw them. They are remarkably well preserved with a lot of colour still to them. So much history in such a small place. Have a good Easter, Diane

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    1. Rosaria you are so right, so small and yet so much. Have a good Easter Diane.

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  17. Have bought a new camera for our trip late this year Diane. Can't wait to start blogging the trip as I've had a minor Blogging block recently.

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    1. Leon I just find that I am always short of time nowadays. I am sadly behind with comments and blogging!! I just do them when I can; I have been keeping up the daily diary somehow. Enjoy the new camera, I still have not really got the hang of mine but some of my photos are reasonable, Keep well you two. D & N

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    1. Thanks Sam and I hope that you have had a great Easter as well. We have just returned from the Lot region of France so time permitting I have lots of posts to catch up with! Keep well Diane

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  19. I can see why you took so many photos! Thanks for the tour, I really enjoyed it! Happy Easter!

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    1. Pam it is an amazing little village so much to see all in a small area and masses of history. Hope you also have had a Happy Easter. Diane

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  20. Ha, I just wrote a bit about Richard this week. What an amazing town. I love the church interiors... wow. Yet another amazing tour.

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    1. Deana the church interior is very special, I wonder why anyone should want to cover them up! Hope all is well and that you have had a great Easter. Diane

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  21. Love those stone houses in a row. The decayed frescoes are amazing and so are the ruins. Great post, Diane!

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    1. Thanks José, it is a great little village. Keep well Diane

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  22. These old stones are very attractive!
    Your footage is stunning and would invite me to visit this area... if I had the time and lived closer!
    Sadly I am stuck at home and can't go after the emerging dragonflies as I would wish!!
    I hope you are well Diane!
    Cheers!

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    1. Noushka it is a fabulous little village. Time and distance is always a major factor in life! Take care and have a good day. Diane

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  23. The building all look so amazing in the photos I can only imagine how wonderful they are in person.

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  24. I would definitely say you had a hard job trying to pick which photos to use Diane....they are all simply stunning:) Hope you are keeping well!
    ~Anne xx

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  25. I will be visiting the Dordogne in June and your posts are very helpful in determining places to visit.

    I really like the sharpness of your photos and I am wondering what model and make of camera you use - if you don't mind divulging that information!

    Thank you,
    Chris

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    1. Godfrey I have tried to respond on your blog but because you are on G+ I am unable to. G+ gave me so many problems, with people not being able to comment I cancelled it, but it also now means I cannot comment on some of their blogs. It is a real pain!

      I have two cameras, the main one being a Nikon D3200 . Lenses 1) 75 to 300 telephoto which I did not use a lot on holiday and 2) 35mm f/1.8g which most of the photos were probably taken with. It is the cheaper end of the Nikkon range , but still not that cheap. I also have a very cheap Samsung L201 which is what I carry in my pocket when it is a hassle carrying the bigger camera and I have had considerable success with that. The Dordogne is a beautiful spot and I will soon be blogging on La Collanges de Rouge and Rocamadour, two beautiful places which I think are worth a visit to. Also of course Brantome, Sarlat and Les Eyzies are a must see. A few photos can be seen on my other blog dairy that may interest you. http://photodiarydps.blogspot.fr/2014/04/18042014-today-we-drove-home-via.html and at http://photodiarydps.blogspot.fr/2014/04/15042014-left-home-early-and-drove-to.html. I will also be blogging more on the Lot soon which is also a beautiful area. If you should go that far, the Château de Cénevières is worth a visit and a tour. The owner is completely bi-lingual and knows his history, he is also very amusing, Thanks so much for your comments and I hope this helps you somewhat. Best wishes for a great holiday Diane

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  26. I'm really enjoying reading your blog posts about the Charente. I'll be visiting the Dordogne area in June and readings your posts is helping me decide on which places I want to visit. I'm finding it much more useful than the many books I have on the area.

    I'm impressed with the sharpness and quality of your photos, and would like to know the make and model of your camera - if you don't mind divulging that information!

    thank you,
    Godfrey

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  27. I will be visiting the Dordogne in June and am finding your posts about the Charente very informative - much more helpful than the many guidebooks I have to the area.

    Your photos of so nice and sharp, I'm wondering what make and model of camera you use - if you don't mind divulging that information!

    thank you,
    godfrey

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  28. Sorry about the three posts. Google kept on telling me they couldn't post them. Oh well...

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    1. No problem Google has a mind of its own, it drives me mad from time to time :) Diane

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