Saturday, 19 April 2014

What’s in a name?

When I was working on my interactive map with Romanesque churches in in Saône-et-Loire based on “Le site sur l'Art Roman en Bourgogne” I stumbled upon Loisy, a village in the Bresse, which should have a Romanesque house.

Château - Loisy
With the help of various maps it is often not too difficult to find a church, but a house somewhere in a village is something different. The driving force behind the earlier mentioned site, van Boxtel, told me that Loisy was a bit more complicated than it seemed. Loisy was the site where several Romanesque statuettes from the motte féodale were found. The statues themselves had been transported to various museums. He could however quite accurately tell me where this motte could be found; near the château in the middle of the village.
Not at all hampered by being modest about my language skills, I assumed that a motte was the same as a moat in English, something that sounded quite plausible given the location of this motte near a castle. A dictionary should have prevented me from drawing this conclusion, but why on earth would one consult a dictionary when one already knows the “answer”?

"Moat" - Loisy
A few days ago we were on another church hunt in the Bresse when we visited Loisy. In the centre of the village we easily found the castle, and a rather shallow ditch could pass, with a bit of fantasy, for the remains of a moat. The only thing that did not really fit in with this interpretation was the fact that van Boxtel almost always, if not always, gives the exact crime scene. And the statues in the moat could have come from anywhere. My burning question now became: where did these statues originally come from? From the chapel that belonged to the castle, or from an old church that stood there once? The answer came quickly. A motte féodale was a motte-and-bailey castle, built on top of an often artificially built hill. Arundel Castle in England is a good example of such a castle. The statues hence came from the original castle, of which nothing remained but the hill on which the remains of the more modern castle still can be found.
The next items on the list to be investigated are the statues, hidden somewhere in the museums of Romenay and Mâcon!

Remains of the castle - Loisy
Guests of La Tuilerie de Chazelle can find more in the Bresse but no longer existing buildings; Louhans for example boasts on Monday mornings a very interesting, big market, where one can, next to vegetables, food, clothing etc. also find and buy fowl and small animals.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Breaking and entering

Have you ever tried to open a locked door, then discovering that you had forgotten the key?

Supper at Emmaus - Saint-Julien in Laizy
Depending on the type of door this does not always involve calling a locksmith. With double doors, where one part is bolted with a vertical pin falling into a hole in the floor, whilst the other part is then locked with a key, one can be lucky. Sometimes (but certainly not always!) somebody has forgotten to lower the pin, and in that case it is possible , by pushing gently but firmly against both door parts, to force the catch in the first door out of its hole in the second. If that works, both doors swing open simultaneously.

Capital - Saint-Julien in Laizy
This knowledge was put to good use when I wanted to visit the church in Laizy in the Morvan. The door was locked, but there was sufficient movement in both door panels. After trying and pushing a bit, I pushed a bit harder, and with a pang both doors swung open and I could go inside.
Of course this can and should be classified as breaking and entering, even though not with the intention to steal something. But some churches contain valuables, and of course there could be an alarm attached to the door, or simply, a neighbour could have warned the police. And how do you explain in French that the door opened itself spontaneously when you just leant against it?

Capital - Saint-Julien in Laizy
In view of the above I decided to quickly take the pictures I had come for and after that disappear on the double. I could not close the door properly, but for a casual passer-by it looked as if the door was at least closed.
The interior of the church was more than worth the effort. I have seen quite a few churches in that part of the woods, but Laizy is certainly a pearl in the crown of the Morvan churches.
The moral of this story? Always try whether there is any movement in a door. It will not be the first time that one of us thought that a door was closed, while in reality it was just sticking.

Arcatures - Saint-Julien in Laizy
For a complete series about this successful break-in, click here.

A day-trip to Autun from La Tuilerie de Chazelle is not complete without trying the door of the church in Laizy!