Architecture, works of art and curios of the Church of St Peter

EN

Church plan english 1

EN

Church plan english 1

The Church of St Peter and St Paul as we see it today was built in the 16th century, reworked and embellished in the 17th and 18th centuries. Its characteristic form dates from this time, a combination of flamboyant Gothic elegance and its rugged bell tower.

There are no visible traces today of the original building, but we know that the Church of St Peter in Bretoncelles was a dependency of the Benedictine monastery of Corbion founded in 575 by Saint Laumer.  According to tradition, a lady Wulfrade, cured of paralysis by Saint Laumer, supposedly left her wealth to the monastery in around the year 600, on condition that a sanctuary be erected in each of its domains, one of which was Bretoncelles.  Abandoned in 872 in the face of Viking invasions, the monastery was founded again under its present name of Moutiers.  A papal bull of Innocent II (1243 - 1254) confirmed that the church was a dependency of that monastery.

A nave was erected in the first half of the 16th century and it would appear that all those who were beneficiaries of estates (owners and parish dignitaries) were associated with this construction.

In the 17th century private individuals and the Factory (clerics and laypersons ensuring the collection and administration of funds) financed three polychrome altarpieces in the Louis XIII style.  Of the central altarpiece covering the whole choir and dismantled during successive restorations only the magnificent wooden tabernacle remains.

The two programmes of restoration which followed one another in the second half of the 19th century and changes during the 20th century have substantially altered the appearance of the inside of the church.  The embellishments that Abbot Damase Oger (1877 - 1901) wanted undertaken were concentrated on the central nave.  The flat chevet was demolished and replaced by a new three-facet chevet with three bays covered with a stone vault roof decorated with frescoes.  Two sacristies were builton the sides.  From 1899, a plaster vault was laid over the whole interior timber roof structure, resting on small columns decorated with capitals, ornate keys and culs-de-lampe.

All the church's stained glass windows were damaged by cannon fire by the Prussian army (battle in Bretoncelles on 21st November 1870).  Stained glass financed by the abbot and parishioners was ordered for all the windows ( scenes from the life of Christ in the south window, the life of the Virgin in the north) from master Eugène Hucher and his son, doubtless completed  between 1885 and 1903 by the Carmel factory in Le Mans.

The Church of St Peter in Bretoncelles before the Revolution was a dependency of the parish of the county of Le Perche  in the diocese of Chartres.  After the Concordat (1802) it was a dependency of the deanery of Rémalard and the diocese of Sées.  Today it is part of the parish of Saint-Germain Saint Lhomer (South Perche).  Its composite architecture, its works of art and curios make up the most remarkable element in the village's cultural patrimony.

Last edited: 22/02/2024