Abbey Church of St Ouen, Rouen!

And I stay in Rouen, no problems, this is a nice town and full of jewels to see and enjoy. I repeat , I have come here many times with the family and even watch sporting events here, the amount of historcial architectural stunning places are awesome. Rouen should get more visitors , it is worth it. I like to tell you here about another jewel of architecture and history, the Saint-Ouen Abbey of Rouen.  Its abbey church is a complete example of Gothic architecture in Normandy.

The Abbey of Saint-Ouen was one of the most powerful Benedictine monasteries in Normandy, founded in 750 under the term of Saint Peter the first church at this site was a Merovingian basilica; Dadon (Saint Ouen) was buried there in 684 and then gave his name to the abbey. Also, the Benedictine monastery which succeeded him at the time Carolingian naturally took the name of this prestigious abbot.


Hildebert first true abbot, is considered the restorer of the abbey. Under his command, the abbey follows the Benedictine rule.. In 1067, William the Conqueror attests to a confirmation in favor of the abbey. The body of Saint Ouen and the other relics are transferred there in 1126

The work of the present-day Gothic abbey church began in 1318, the tombstone located in the chapel of the Abbey of St. Agnes indicates in its epitaph that Master Alexandre de Berneval, a masonry master, is the author of this Church And that he died in  1440. In all likelihood, he is depicted on the tombstone and undoubtedly is that of the two characters, the oldest, who holds in his hands a compass and a medium on which is engraved a quarter of a rosette.


In 1803, the city hall of Rouen settled in the former Dormitorium or sleeping quarters of the 18C. The Logis abbatial is demolished in 1816. The church itself, having sheltered a factory at the time of the French revolution, was then returned to the Catholic cult but without becoming a parish church, now serves as a place of exhibitions and concerts.

The western façade of the Abbey Church was built in Gothic style between 1845 and 1852, only the escutcheon is original. It is constructed of limestone from the quarries of Saint-Leu and Saint-Maximin.  The main gate is made up of three porches, whose foot-rights host statues The central portal, composed of Christ on the central pillar of the great gate, is surrounded by the apostles.  We enter the building by the portal of the Marmousets which closes the south arm of the transept. The ribs of the vault fall on two large pendant keys. The lower parts of the foot-rights and the central thomas are carved with forty medallions quadrilles tracing the life of Saint Ouen, whose statue perched on the thomas. The tympan is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The Abbey Church of Saint Ouen measures 134 meters long, with a height of 33 meters under vaults, and has a superb crowned central tower that does not have lantern of the flamboyant Gothic style. It measures 82 meters and a structural belfry supports the bells, of which one was melted in 1701. The nave, very bright thanks to its canopies on three levels of elevation; adjacent to the north of the nave, stands the only gallery still existing cloister; It has a beautiful, flamboyant network.


The Choir and the pentagonal bedside with its eleven Chapels, visible from the garden of the town hall, is a marvel of harmony and balance, all in the radiant Gothic style, with the exception of the northern part of the choir against which remains a Romanesque apsidal, Called the Clerics’ tower, a vestige of the former great abbey. The choir is closed by grates forged in 1740-1749; above the large arcades, under the triforium, are wall paintings from the 14C. The Altar is made of gilded brass.

The Salle des Marmosets overlaid at the gate, was once used as a charrier or maybe  the Abbey’s archive room. In the 19C, this room served as a library, as evidenced by the few traces of polychromies and nails. The room has an irregular vault that is based on the bases carved with sacred and secular scenes

The stained glass windows form a coherent ensemble, of great homogeneity, made between the 14C and 15C. All the windows are filled with stained glass. On the stained glass windows are only figures on foot, given the height of the building which would make it impossible to read smaller religious scenes. Therefore, each of them represents a patriarch, a prophet or a sibyl in the north, and a saint, a prelate or an apostle in the south. The windows then open directly to the aisles. Contrary to those of the bays of the nave, the stained-glass windows are here religious scenes under architected decorations of a very fine execution.

The Rosary in the south arm was decorated with a tree of Jesse, a recurring theme in this art. The north arm shows us the hierarchy. As for the façade, its rose is adorned with a modern and abstract window, in beautiful blue hues, which slices with the rest of the scenes. The scenes of the canopies takes up the window of the tall windows of the nave with figures on foot. There is, however, one exception: a modern window by Max Ingrand representing the Crucifixion that adorns the axis.

The windows of the radiant chapels there is the largest collection of stained glass windows from the 14C in France. They illustrate for example the life of the Saints honored in the abbey. The abbey of St Ouen has an organ Cavaillon-Coll of 1890; one of the most beautiful in France with that of the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris and the greatest Cavaillon-Coll of the provinces after that of the Collegiale Saint-Pierre de Douai and the great organ of the Cathedral of Nancy. More on the organ below link.

Organ of abbey of St Ouen

The old garden of the abbey is today called the City/town Hall Garden. It can be seen, located next to the west entrance, near the portal of the Marmosets, a copy of the Big Stone of Jelling offered by Denmark to the city of Rouen, on the occasion of the millennium of Normandy in 1911.  Not far from there are a stone statue of Rollon and a bronze bust of the Belgian poet Émile Verhaeren, who died accidentally in the train station of Rouen in 1916.  To the north of the abbey Church, a basin is decorated with a sculpture evoking the abduction of Dejanie by the Centaur Nessus. Against the north wall, you the Meridian.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Rouen on the Abbey

Tourist office of Rouen on the Abbey

Tourist office of Seine Maritime dept 76 on the Abbey

Tourist office of Normandy region on the Abbey

Site on Norman Abbeys on St Ouen

There you go another jewel in pretty historical Rouen. Not to be missed!ok

And remember ,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: