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Chauvigny Church
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Quick Facts on Chauvigny Church

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Chauvigny Church St-Pierre de Chauvigny
Rue St-Pierre Chauvigny, Poitou-Charentes
Chauvigny  locality
Vienne  county
France  country
Europe  continent
Main date(s)
c. 1130-1230
46.570692° N, 0.648773° E
05 49 45 99 10

Description of Chauvigny Church

St-Pierre de Chauvigny is Late Romanesque in style with some Gothic elements (including the cornice at the top of the bell tower and the pointed arches at the west end of the nave). It stands cozily on a small medieval street, its east side facing the center of town. The radiating east chapels have unusual lid-shaped roofs and an attractive little turret has a conical roof with the fish-scale design seen also at Notre-Dame-la-Grande in Poitiers.

The corbels of the chevet are carved with a variety of human and animal figures. Decorative reliefs adorn the chapel windows and some archaic sculptures taken from the earlier church have been inserted in the chapel roofs. One of the window arches is carved with an alphabet.

Entrance is at the west end of the church, from which there is a fine view over the town (including another Romanesque church) below.

Once your eyes adjust to the unusual red-and-white paint job from 1856 (recently restored), the elegant architecture of the interior can be appreciated. Like many other churches in Poitou it is a "hall church," meaning that the side aisles are almost as tall as the nave.

The interior is illuminated by windows set high in the aisles rather than a clerestory above the nave, which is topped by a barrel vault. The transverse arches of the vault become increasingly pointed towards the west end of the nave, which was built last, around 1230 when the Gothic style was beginning to emerge. There are some notable capitals in the crossing, including a lion and a mermaid.

Holly Hayes
October 31, 2011

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