Abbey Church of St Ouen of Rouen!

One of the magnificent abbeys of my belle France, on a right spot next to the Hôtel de Ville, this is a jewel of Rouen. I like to update this older post and tell you a bit more of the  Abbey Church of St Ouen! Hope you enjoy it as I!

And I stay in Rouen, no problems, this is a nice town and full of gems 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 Church of Rouen.  Its abbey church is a complete example of Gothic architecture in Normandie.

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The Abbey Church 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 Hôtel de Ville 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.

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The western façade of the Abbey Church Saint Ouen  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.

A bit on the beautiful inside with brief description.

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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 Church 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 wonderful organ in French here:

The old garden of the abbey is today called the Jardins de l’Hôtel de Ville or 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 Saint Ouen, a basin is decorated with a sculpture evoking the abduction of Dejanie by the Centaur Nessus. Against the north wall, you see the Meridian.


I give you here some anecdotes that I find nice to tell hope you enjoy them as I. Inside one of the highest turrets in the abbey, Private Buckley engraved the name of his regiment, the 6th Australian Artillery, and his hometown: Melbourne. It was October 11, 1918.  A Scotsman also played the knife on August 18, 1916, leaving his historic mark in the limestone. the tags left a rope hanging from a roof bears witness to the escapades led by nocturnal visitors. The wonderful bells making noises such as the Saint-Ouen, Marie and Julie-Marcelle. Like all the bells in France, they have been baptized. The first weighs four tons, the second three, the last one ton. When they ring, the belfry begins to creak. At the central point of the abbey, between the choir, the transept and the nave, from the organ towards what is above it. The stained glass window of Christ, “lost” during WWII ,then recovered, after the element was redone by a master glassmaker.  It sits still in a cask in Rouen. All the stained glass windows were removed during the two world wars, for fear of the bombardments as there was in Reims. They all left at the cask desk in Niort. They have been replaced by woods and cathedral glasses. The Saint-Ouen abbey is closed to the public due to restoration work, bear this in mind to check when coming to see it, and you must!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The City of Rouen on the Abbey:

The Rouen tourist office on the Abbey:

The Abbeys of Normandy on the Abbey of Rouen

There you go folks ,another jewel in pretty historical Rouen. The Abbey Church St Ouen is not to be missed! ok

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

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