The Baptistére St Jean and a church in Poitiers!!

In continuing my saga of the wonderful rich historical and architecturally stunning city of Poitiers I came into some interesting monuments. One is well known as the Baptistére St Jean or St John Baptistery and a church will find out. This for reminder is in the dept 86 of the Vienne and the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine of my belle France. Let me tell you a bit about these unusual monuments ok

The Baptistére Saint-Jean or baptistery is one of the oldest Christian monuments whose origin dates back to the second half of the 4C, the beginning of the 5C. Strongly altered over the centuries, it is the building that best illustrates the dependence of Merovingian architecture with its ancient foundations but also the abandonment of classical principles.  The preserved baptistery was built on the site of a baptismal hall fitted out in a domus to the east of the cathedral. In the 6C, its plan was modified with the organization of new interior spaces. In the 7C the whole was embellished by the installation of facings and a sculpted decoration. The work of the Carolingian period seems intended to adapt structures to new liturgical and ecclesial practices. During the 11C, the reconstruction of the western part with cut sides and the installation of wall paintings gives it its final appearance.

Poitiers baptistere st jean front oct21

The Saint-Jean church, erected as a parish in 1638, was decommissioned in 1791 during the French revolution. The building was put up for sale as national property with the sacristy and the cemetery ,but could not find a buyer given its dilapidation. The baptistery becomes the property of the State which after repairs gives the use of it to the Hospitallers of the city who make a deposit then to the cathedral which rents it to a contractor who uses it as a wood store. In June 1838, the Saint-Jean church, which became the Museum of Antiquities of the West, was opened. In 1883, the Ministry of Fine Arts gave it to the city to turn it into a museum. It entrusted it to the Society of Antiquaries of the West which in 1884 deposited there all the regional Merovingian tombs which it owned in a lapidary museum from the 6-8C.

Poitiers baptistere st jean back oct21

Several archeological excavations were done, In 1803 Étienne Marie Siauve discovered an octagonal swimming pool and from 1835, numerous restorations were accompanied by surveys and archaeological excavations. Between 1855 and 1872, Charles Joly-Leterme reconstructed the side apsidioles then from 1879 to 1903, Jean Camille Formigé was in charge of the work. At the end of the 19C Camille de La Croix excavated the moat and between 1958 and 1962, as well as F. Eygun the baptismal hall and the basement of the axial apse.

Whether dating from the second half of the 4C or more recent, its original plan of two rooms preceded by a tripartite portico or a large room centered on the swimming pool, The current baptistery is reduced to a rectangular room with three apses and is important in the knowledge of Merovingian architecture. All the walls were covered with frescoes but many have disappeared. They can be dated to the first half of the 13C and a small part of the 12C.

Poitiers baptistere st jean side back to cat oct21

I passed by what it looks like a church front but no name no info, After looking up the address in the impasse de la Cathédrale (a street), it was mention as the Chuch St Hilaire, However, could not connected with the more historical Church Saint-Hilaire le Grand ,a former basilica and collegiate church which has now become a church on the spot where the native of Poitiers St Hilaire was buried, I took a picture for further research and maybe someone will come up with more here.

Poitiers ch st Hilaire impasse de la cathedrale oct21

The Poitiers tourist office on the baptistery St John

The Vienne dept 86 tourist office on the baptistery St John of Poitiers

There you go folks, something wonderfully old and nice, that is open on limited time and with a fee but worth to go me think. This is the Baptistére St Jean and a unique puzzle of a Church St Hilaire for further research. Hope you enjoy the post on Poitiers, and the intrigue; I cannot do it all….

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

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