Collegiale Church Notre Dame of Poissy!!

I need to revise and refresh the text on this older post in my blog. It is dear to me as been to Poissy several times and was sometimes my passing to work or kids school with trains. I happened to stumbled into the Collegiale Church Notre Dame of Poissy because of the history and events there so walked I did to see it and did come back. I did a post on it long yes, maybe tiring to read by many but I believe history is the foundation of any travels, passing by with a picture is not enough to enjoy our world. So, therefore, here is my update on the Collegiale Church Notre Dame of Poissy!!

Of course, Poissy a royal town of France is in royal Yvelines dept 78 of the Ïle de France region.  Well ,I have written a lot on the city of Poissy in my blog which plenty to offer the visitor as well. First of all, very easy to get to from Paris on the RER A line and once there go out station turn right and walk up the street ,you will see the big Gothic Church in front of you! Never time it ,but should be less than 10 minutes walking.

The Collegiale Church of Notre-Dame is a parish Catholic Church located in Poissy. It was founded by King Robert the Pious around 1016, but from the 11C church, only the western steeple-porch survives. Indeed, the Collegiate Church was rebuilt from the beginning of the 12C, in particular between 1130 and 1160, in the late Romanesque style, and later in the primitive Gothic style, which manifests itself in the eastern parts. The future king Louis IX (Saint Louis) was baptized, a few days after his birth in Poissy, on April 25, 1214. This event is the celebrity of the Church, and the baptismal fonts of that time are still preserved there. Although it has undergone numerous transformations and restorations since its construction in the 12C, this Church is not only the richest monument of the city’s heritage, but also remains one of the few witnesses to the development of Romanesque art and its transition to Gothic art. The Church bears the name of Collegiale because it housed a college of canons until the French revolution. It was the object of several restoration campaigns in the 19C, notably by Viollet-le-Duc.

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A long history I like!

The Notre Dame Church may be a successor to a first Merovingian cult Site, of which they  have found numerous fragments of stone cutters, capitals and bases at 60 cm below the paving. However, the base seems rather Roman, but the base could actually go back to the 7C. Saint-Louis never forgot the Church where he had been baptized, and founded a Mass for the birthday of his parents in 1238, then a Chapel in 1250. The first priest was installed , it was Mathurin Giquerel, Doctor of Theology of the Sorbonne, a dignified and virtuous man of Breton origin. Under the whole of the old regime (royals) , Poissy was the seat of the archdeaconry of the Pincers’ of the Diocese of Chartres, and the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame its spiritual center. The Church was reportedly burned during the Hundred Years ‘ War, and was partly rebuilt and enlarged in the late 15C and 16C. During the second War of Religion, in 1567, the Church was ravaged by the Huguenots, and to escape, inhabitants were forced to take refuge in the attic for more than two weeks. On the eve of the French revolution, the chapter was abolished and the Church soon closed to worship, and the Church of the Saint-Louis Priory  became the only parish Church in the city, except during the prohibition of worship under the reign of terror in the French revolution. With the Concordat (ending the terrors of the French revolution) of 1801, Poissy was integrated into the new diocese of Versailles, corresponding to the old department of Seine-et-Oise (now mostly Yvelines).

A bit brief on the architecture of the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame Church consists mainly of a central vessel of six long bar spans, accompanied by aisles and Chapels or other annexes; Of a five-pans apse; there is the  ambulatory; a square-planar axis Chapel dating from the 1860’s; and two Chapels flanking the first and last span of the ambulatory, each with a straight span and an apse in the hemicycle. The nave is preceded by one of the two steeples, the ground floor of which was initially an open porch on three sides. Two stair turrets flank the bell tower, one to the north and one to the south. The Chapel of the Baptismal font occupies the angle between the steeple and the north side, and like all the spans of this aisle, it is flanked by a Chapel on the north side. This row of seven Chapels does not form a second aisle, because all the bays are enclosed. The rest of the Church is hunched over with simple warheads. A second steeple rises above the last span of the nave.

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The western steeple, originally a steeple-porch, is one of the oldest steeples in the region among those of a certain size. The steeple is square and flanked by two orthogonal buttresses at each angle, which are strictly vertical and punctuated by the same drip present on the walls.The ground floor only has small rectangular openings, and the first floor is also very discreet, with a unique rectangular window off the west side. The second floor is located at the same level as the upper windows of the nave, and originally had two rectangular bays, regularly spread over the three free sides. To the north and south, they are partly clogged by the two stair turrets.

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At the top, God the Father (beheaded during the French revolution) emerges from a cloud holding a globe in one hand. Rays of light descend from all sides, and reach a vase with two handles, from which a long leafy stem that carries three fleurs de Lys springs. A dove in the middle of the rays illustrates the Holy Spirit, and the rays themselves are the grace of God that he sends from the top of heaven. The flower that is the recipient is an allegory of purity and virginity, and symbolizes the Virgin Mary. The ensemble is therefore a symbolic representation of the Annunciation.

The second Louis XII-style portal is wider and has two doors in a basket cove separated from a thomas whose jagged foliage and flamboyant-style monsters, overlapped already on the lower legs of the underside, at pilasters Italianate announcing the first Renaissance. Three niches with statues flank the doors, and still sheltered the Virgin and two angels in 1805. They were repainted same  year, but have disappeared since. The central steeple is, without a doubt, the most beautiful element of Poissy’s architecture.  Its north face was uplifted this time with respect for the authenticity of the monument, as between 1844 and 1850 during the restoration of the large arcades. Between two modillions, a palmettos décor in bas-relief appears. Two seats above open the bays of the belfry floor. They are in the full hanger and number of two on the faces facing the cardinal points.

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A longer description of the interior of the Collegiale Church of Notre Dame.

The nave is particularly heterogeneous. The first renovation uses the flamboyant Gothic style. The second renovation occurred around the middle of the 16C, and concerns the first three bays on the south side, as well as the vaults of the first three bays. But everything that seems to date from the beginning of the 12C and displays the Romanesque style, is in reality in very large part the result of the reconstruction. Apart from certain details, the nave of the Notre Dame Collegiate Church can be brought closer to the other large Romanesque Churches of the region built at the beginning of the vaulting of warheads styles.

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The row of Chapels represents the most homogeneous part of the Church, but apart from the supports of the large arcades, all dates from the end of the 15C and the beginning of the 16C. The chapels of the fourth and fifth spans are particularly distinguished by Baroque woodwork of great quality.  The last three spans of the south aisle are the last ones that still exhibit, at least in large part, their 12C provisions. The sacristy had been abandoned in the 18C and arranged in the Chapel facing south of the apse, but its location is the original.  The choir or chorus is oriented in the direction of the sun rising on August 15 (Assomption), is not in the axis of the nave. The choir is small and is reduced to the apse. In the absence of a transept whose crusader often houses the high altar, it must be assumed that the last two bays of the nave were originally attached to the liturgical choir, and separated from the rest of the nave by a grate. The apse communicates with the ambulatory by five large arcades.

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The ambulatory represents, the most interesting part of the Church.It has no radiant Chapels, but primitively an alternation between square Chapels, including the first and last completed by an apse in the hemicycle, and walls facing the outside. The apsidal of the Chapel is in large part authentic. Quite spacious, it has a decoration consistent with that of the ambulatory. The south-facing chapel, dedicated to St. Louis, has never been altered, and its plan is quite regular. As for the axe Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin, it was once an admirable construction of the second half of the 13C or the beginning of the 14C, in a radiant style reminiscent of the Sainte-Chapelle (Paris). Destroyed everything in the 1860’s, the demolition of the Chapel is regrettable, especially since it was not detrimental to the homogeneity of the Church, and that its state would have allowed a restoration, still envisaged by the Viollet -le-Duc in 1844. The present Chapel is inspired by the apsidials, but larger, with five pans and three windows.

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In the nave, there are curiously more recent capitals under the fifth and sixth largest arcade in the north. It can be dated from the beginning of the 12C, while the construction of the nave progressed from west to east, and the last spans were only started around 1130. At the back of the façade, at the beginning of the big arcades of the South, appears the first marquee of a second type, evoking, as also the bedside in the big lines. In the apse, the only capitals that were not redone in the 19C are those to the east of the sixth pile of the north, as well as those of the four free columns of the apse roundabout. The sculpture of their large baskets is remarkable, and they are decorated with two registers of ribbed leaves, palmettos of a large drawing, long rods linked two by two in the center or under the angles of the stone cutter. The bay capitals of the central steeple are also remarkable.

The tribune Organ was commissioned in 1903. Its instrumental part was made by Charles Mutin, successor of Aristide Cavaillon-Coll. Its Gothic buffet was designed by the architect of historical monuments, Camille Formigé, who had been responsible for the last restoration campaign of the Church between 1884 and 1896. The columns of stone supporting the tribune were carved by Geoffroy.

Some of the nice things to notice at the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame at best me think other than the Baptismal font of Saint Louis are:

The stone Altar adorned with eight characters under arches lobed and hooks, dating from the first half of the 14C and apparently coming from the church Priorale Saint-Louis. The group carved in limestone representing the burial, also known as Holy Sepulchre, mentioned for the first time in 1522.  The group carved in polychrome walnut wood representing the education of the Virgin by Ste. Anne, dating from the near end 15C to 16C. The stone statue of St. John the Baptist, dating from the 14C, the stone statue of Ste. Barbara, dating from the first half of the 16C; the tower on the left is its attribute, the palm in her left hand is the symbol of the Martyrs. The stone statue of Isabelle of France, daughter of St. Louis, dating from around 1300, comes from the rood of the Church of the Priory Saint-Louis de Poissy. The stone statue of St. Peter , probably dating from the 17C. The stone statue of Saint Louis teenager, dating from 1932. It bears the coat of arms of the city of Poissy.  The painted wooden statue of the Virgin, probably dating from the first quarter of the 16C, was distorted by a smooth polychrome that makes it seem like a statue of the 19C, but the stylistic closeness with the statue of Ste. Barbara indicates the actual age of the statue, which remains to be confirmed during a restoration. The stone statue of the Ecce Homo or Christ with links, dating from the 17C. The statue of the Virgin and the Seated Child called Notre-Dame de Poissy, inspired by the seal of the Collegiate chapter, work of Manuela, her real name Anne de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Duchess of Uzès, dating from 1892. The stone statuette of a praying, perhaps a donor, with a inscription of dedication in Latin, dating from 1553. Most of the burial slabs were sealed in the Western Wall. Most of the paintings are hung in the Chapels, and poorly visible in these dark spaces.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

The city of Poissy on the Notre Dame Church in French: https://www.ville-poissy.fr/index.php/vivre-a-poissy/cadre-de-vie/patrimoine-et-sites/la-collegiale-notre-dame.html

The Poissy tourist office on the Notre Dame Church in French: https://www.poissy-tourisme.fr/annuaire/fiche/collegiale-notre-dame

The Yvelines dept 78 tourist board on the Notre Dame Church of Poissy in French: http://www.sortir-yvelines.fr/Art-et-culture/Art-et-culture-dans-les-Yvelines/visite-decouverte-yvelines/collegiale-notre-dame-poissy

This is a nice Notre Dame Collegiale Church and the area around it is very nice and more things to see in Poissy. So close to Paris surprise not many visitors when is a major site in French history, I hope I have encourage to see it when possible.

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

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