Dawson Turner.

Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 online

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Ducler - St. Georges de Bocherville - M. Langlois


Abbey of Jumieges - Its History - Architectural Details - Tombs of Agnes
Sorel and of the Enervez


Gournay - Castle of Neufmarché - Castle and Church of Gisors


Andelys - Fountain of Saint Clotilda - La Grande Maison - Château
Gaillard - Ecouis


Evreux - Cathedral - Abbey of St. Taurinus - Ancient History


Vicinity of Evreux - Château de Navarre - Cocherel - Pont-Audemer -
Montfort-sur-Risle - Harfleur - Bourg-Achard - French Wedding


Moulineaux - Castle of Robert the Devil - Bourg-Theroude - Abbey of
Bec - Brionne


Bernay - Broglie - Orbec - Lisieux - Cathedral - Ecclesiastical History


Site and Ruins of the Capital of the Lexovii - History of
Lisieux - Monasteries of the Diocese - Ordericus Vitalis - M.
Dubois - Letter from the Princess Borghese


French Police - Ride from Lisieux to Caen - Cider - General Appearance
and Trade of Caen - English resident there


Historians of Caen - Towers and Fortifications - Château de la
Gendarmerie - Castle - Churches of St. Stephen, St. Nicholas, St.
Peter, St. John, and St. Michel de Vaucelles


Royal Abbeys of the Holy Trinity and St. Stephen - Funeral of the
Conqueror, Exhumation of his Remains, and Destruction of his Monument


Palace of the Conqueror - Heraldic Tiles - Portraits of William and
Matilda - Museum - Public Library - University - Academy - Eminent
Men - History of Caen


Vieux - La Maladerie - Chesnut Timber - Caen Stone - History of
Bayeux - Tapestry


Cathedral of Bayeux - Canon of Cambremer - Cope of St. Regnobert - Odo


Church and Castle of Creully - Falaise - Castle - Churches - Fair of


Rock and Chapel of St. Adrien - Pont-de-l'Arche - Priory of the two
Lovers - Abbey of Bonport - Louviers - Gaillon - Vernon





Plate 26 Sculpture upon a capital in the Chapter-House at St. Georges

Plate 27 M. Langlois

Plate 28 Musicians, from the Chapter-House at St. Georges

Plate 29 Distant View of the Abbey of St. Jumieges

Plate 30 Ancient trefoil-headed Arches in ditto

Plate 31 Distant of the Castle of Gisors

Plate 32 Banded Pillar in the Church of ditto

Plate 33 Distant View of Château Gaillard

Plate 34 Gothic Puteal, at Evreux

Plate 35 Leaden Font at Bourg-Achard

Plate 36 Ancient Tomb in the Cathedral at Lisieux

Plate 37 Head-Dress of Females, as Caen

Plate 38 Tower in the _Château de Calix_, at ditto

Plate 39 Tower and Spire of St. Peter's Church, at ditto

Plate 40 Sculpture upon a Capital in ditto

Plate 41 Tower of St. John's Church, at Caen

Plate 42 Monastery of St. Stephen, at ditto

Plate 43 Fireplace in the Conqueror's Palace, at Ditto

Plate 44 Profile of M. Lamouroux

Plate 45 Figure from the Bayeux Tapestry

Plate 46 Sculpture at Bayeux

Plate 47 Ornaments in the Spandrils of the Arches in Bayeux Cathedral

Plate 48 Castle of Falaise

Plate 49 Elevation of the West Front of _La Délivrande_

Plate 50 Font at Magneville




(_Ducler, July_, 1818.)

You will look in vain for Ducler in the _livre des postes_; yet this
little town, which is out of the common road of the traveller, becomes
an interesting station to the antiquary, it being situated nearly
mid-way between two of the most important remains of ancient
ecclesiastical architecture in Normandy - the abbeys of St. Georges de
Bocherville and of Jumieges. - The accommodation afforded by the inns at
Bocherville and Jumieges, is but a poor substitute for the hospitality
of the suppressed abbeys; and, as even the antiquary must eat and
perhaps sleep, he who visits either St. George or the holy Virgin, will
do well to take his _fricandeau_ and his bed, at the place whence I am

At a period when the right bank of the Seine from Harfleur to Rouen
displayed an almost uninterrupted line or monastic buildings, Ducler
also boasted of a convent[1], which must have been of some importance,
as early as the middle of the seventh century. - King Childeric IInd,
granted the forest of Jumieges to the convent of the same name and that
of St. Vandrille; and St. Ouen was directed by the monarch to divide the
endowment between the two foundations. His award did not give
satisfaction to St. Philibert, the abbot of Jumieges, who maintained
that his house had not received a fair allotment. The proposition was
stoutly resisted by St. Lambert, abbot of St. Vandrille; and the dispute
was at length settled by the saints withdrawing their claims, and ceding
the surplus land to the abbey of Ducler. St. Denys was the patron of
this abbey; and to him also the present parochial church is dedicated:
it is of Norman architecture; the tower is surrounded by a row of
fantastic corbels; and a considerable quantity of painted glass yet
remains in the windows. The village itself (for it is nothing more than
a village, though honored by French geographers with the name of a
_bourg_), consists of a single row of houses, placed immediately under
the steep chalk cliff which borders the Seine. The face of the cliff is
also indented by excavations, in which the poorer inhabitants dwell,
almost like the Troglodytes of old. The situation of Ducler, and that of
the two neighboring abbeys, is delightful in summer and in fine weather.
In winter it must be cold and cheerless; for, besides being close to a
river of so great breadth, it looks upon a flat marshy shore, whence
exhalations copiously arise. The view from our chamber window this
morning presented volumes of mist rolling on with the stream. The tide
was setting in fast downwards; and the water glided along in silent
rapidity, involved in clouds.

The village of Bocherville, or, as it is more commonly called, of St.
Georges, the place borrowing its name from the patron saint of the
abbey, lies, at the distance of about two leagues from Rouen. The road
is exceedingly pleasing. Every turning presents a fresh view of the
river; while, on looking back, the city itself is added to the
landscape; and, as we approach, the abbey-church is seen towering upon
the eminence which it commands.

The church of St. Georges de Bocherville, called in old charters _de
Baucherville_, and in Latin _de Balcheri_ or _Baucheri villa_, was built
by Ralph de Tancarville, the preceptor of the Conqueror in his youth,
and his chamberlain in his maturer age. The descendants of the founder
were long the patrons and advocates of the monastery. The Tancarvilles,
names illustrious in Norman, no less than in English, story, continued
during many centuries to regard it as under their particular protection:
they enriched it with their donations whilst alive, and they selected it
as the spot to contain their remains when they should be no more.

The following portion of the charter, which puts us in possession of the
indisputable æra of the erection of the church, is preserved by
Mabillon[2]. It is the Conqueror who speaks. - "Radulfus, meus magister,
aulæque et cameræ princeps, instinctu divino tactus, ecclesiam
supradicti martyris Georgii, quæ erat parva, re-edificare a fundamentis
inchoavit, et ex proprio in modum crucis consummavit."

The Monarch and his Queen condescended to gratify a faithful and
favorite servant, by endowing his establishment. The corpse of the
sovereign himself was also brought hither from St. Gervais, by the monks
and clergy, in solemn procession, before it was carried to Caen[3] for

Ralph de Tancarville, however, was not fortunate in the selection of
the inmates whom he planted in his monastery. His son, in the reign of
Henry Ist, dismissed the canons for whom it was first founded, and
replaced them by a colony of monks from St. Evroul. Ordericus Vitalis,
himself of the fraternity of St. Evroul, commemorates and of course
praises the fact. Such changes are of frequent occurrence in
ecclesiastical history; and the apprehension of being rejected from an
opulent and well-endowed establishment, may occasionally have
contributed, by the warning example, to correct the irregularities of
other communities. A century later, the abbot of St. Georges was
compelled to appeal to the pope, in consequence of an attempt on the
part of his brethren at St. Evroul, to degrade his convent into a mere
cell, dependent upon theirs. - The chronicle of the abbey is barren of
events of general interest; nor do its thirty-one abbots appear to have
been men of whom there was much more to be said, than that they arrived
at their dignity on such a year, and quitted it on such another. Of the
monks, we are told that, in the fifteenth century, though their number
was only eight, the dignitaries included, the daily task allotted them
was greater than would in any of the most rigid establishments, in
latter days, have been imposed upon forty brethren in a week!

Inconsiderable as is the abbey, in an historical point of view, the
church of St. Georges de Bocherville is of singular importance, inasmuch
as it is one of the land-marks of Norman architecture. William, in his
charter, simply styles himself _Dux Normannorum_; it therefore was
granted a few years before the conquest. The building has suffered
little, either from the hands of the destroyers, or of those who do
still more mischief, the repairers; and it is certainly at once the most
genuine and the most magnificent specimen of the circular style, now
existing in Upper Normandy. - The west front is wholly of the time of the
founder, with the exception of the upper portion of the towers that
flank it on either side. In these are windows of nearly the earliest
pointed style; and they are probably of the same date as the
chapter-house, which was built in the latter part of the twelfth
century. The effect of the front is imposing: its general simplicity
contrasts well with the rich ornaments of the arched door-way, which is
divided into five systems of mouldings, all highly wrought, and
presenting almost every pattern commonly found in Norman buildings. A
label encircles the whole, the inner edge of which is indented into
obtuse pyramids, erroneously called lozenges. The capitals of the
columns supporting the arch are curiously sculptured: upon the second to
the left, on entering, are Adam and Eve, in the act of eating the
forbidden fruit; upon the opposite one, is represented the Flight into
Egypt. Normandy does not contain, I believe, a richer arch; but very
many indeed are to be seen in England, even in our village churches,
superior in decoration, though not, perhaps, in size; for this at St.
Georges is on a very large scale: on each side of it is a smaller blank
arch, with a single moulding and a single pillar. Two tiers of
circular-headed windows of equal size fill up the front. - The rest of
the exterior may be said to be precisely as it was left by the original
builders, excepting only the insertion of a pointed window near the
central tower.

The inside is at least equally free from modern alterations or
improvements. No other change whatever is to be traced in it than such
as were required to repair the injuries done it during the religious
wars; and these were wholly confined to a portion of the roof, and of
the upper part of the wall on the south side of the nave. The groined
roof, though posterior to the original date of the building, is perhaps
of the thirteenth century. The nave itself terminates towards the east
in a semi-circular apsis, according to the custom of the times; and
there, as well as at the opposite extremity of the building, it has a
double tier of windows, and has columns more massy than those in the
body of the church. The aisles end in straight lines; but, within, a
recess is made in the thickness of the wall, for the purpose of
admitting an altar. Both the transepts are divided within the church, at
a short distance from their extremities, into two stories, by a vaulted
roof of the same height as the triforium. - M. Le Prevost, who has very
kindly communicated to me the principal part of these details, has
observed the same to be the case in some other contemporary buildings in
Normandy. On the eastern side of each transept is a small chapel,
ending, like the choir, in a semi-circular apsis, which rises no higher
than the top of the basement story. A cable moulding runs round the
walls of the whole church within. - You and I, in our own country, have
often joined in admiring the massy grandeur of Norman architecture,
exemplified in the nave of Norwich cathedral: at St. Georges I was still
more impressed by the noble effect of semi-circular arcades, seen as
they are here on a still larger scale, and in their primitive state,
uninterrupted and undebased by subsequent additions.

On closer examination, the barbarous style of the sculpture forces
itself upon the eye. Towards the western end of the building the
capitals are comparatively plain: they become more elaborate on
approaching the choir. Some of them are imitations or modifications (and
it may even be said beautiful ones) of the Grecian model; but in general
they are strangely grotesque. Many represent quadrupeds, or dragons, or
birds, and commonly with two bodies, and a single head attached to any
part rather than the neck. On others is seen "the human form divine,"
here praying, there fighting; here devouring, there in the act of being
devoured; not uncommonly too the men, if men they must be called, are
disfigured by enormous heads with great flapping ears, or loll out an
endless length of tongue. - One is almost led to conceive that Schedel,
the compiler of the _Nuremberg Chronicle_, had a set of Norman capitals
before his eyes, when he published his inimitable series of monsters.
His "homines cynocephali," and others with "aures tam magnas ut totum
corpus contegant," and those again whose under lips serve them as
coverlids, may all find their prototypes, or nearly so, in the carvings
of St. Georges.

The most curious sculptures, however, in the church, are two square
bas-reliefs, opposite to one another, upon the spandrils of the arches,
in the walls that divide the extremities of the transepts into different
stories[4]. They are cut out of the solid stone, in the same manner as
the subjects on the block of a wood-engraving: one of these tablets
represents a prelate holding a crosier in his left hand, while the two
fore-fingers of the right are elevated in the act of giving the
blessing; the other contains two knights on horseback, jousting at a
tournament. They are armed with lance and buckler, and each of them has
his head covered with a pointed helmet, which terminates below in a
nasal, like the figures upon the Bayeux tapestry. - This coincidence is
interesting, as deciding a point of some moment towards establishing the
antiquity of that celebrated relic, by setting it beyond a doubt that
such helmets were used anterior to the conquest; for it is certain that
these basso-relievos are coeval with the building which contains them.

This church affords admirable subjects for the pencil. It should be
drawn in every part: all is entire; all original; the corbel-stones that
support the cornice on the exterior are perfect, as well along the choir
and nave, as upon the square central steeple: each of the sides of this
latter is ornamented with a double tier of circular arches. The
buttresses to the church are, like those of the chapel of St. Julien,
shallow and unbroken; and they are ranged, as there, between the
windows. At the east end alone they take the shape of small
semi-cylindrical columns of disproportionate length.

[Illustration: Sculpture upon a capital in the Chapter-House at St.

The monastic buildings, which were probably erected about the year
1700, now serve as a manufactory. Between them and the church is
situated the chapter-house, which was built towards the end of the
twelfth century, at a period when the pointed architecture had already
begun to take place of the circular style. Its date is supplied in the
_Gallia Christiana_, where we read, that Victor, the second abbot,
"obiit longævus dierum, idibus Martii, seu XVIII calendas Aprilis, ante
annum 1211; sepultusque est sub tabulâ marmoreâ in capitulo quod

We found it in a most ruinous and dilapidated state, yet extremely
curious; indeed not less so than the church. Its front to the west
exhibits a row of three semi-circular arches, with an ornament on the
archivolt altogether different from what I recollect to have seen
elsewhere[5]. The inside corresponds in profuse decoration with this
entrance; but the arches in it are all pointed. An entablature of
beautiful workmanship is carried round the whole building, which is now
used as a mill: it was crowded with dirty children belonging to the
manufactory; and the confusion which prevailed, was far from being
favorable to the quiet lucubrations of an antiquary. In no part of the
church is the sculpture equally curious; and it is very interesting to
observe the progress which this branch of the art had made in so short a
time. Two or three of the capitals to the arches in front, seem to
include one continued action, taken apparently from the history of
Joshua. Another capital, of which I send you a sketch from the pencil of
M. Le Prevost, is a great curiosity. The group which it contains, is
nearly a duplicate of the supposed statue of William the Conqueror at
Caen. In all probability it represents some legendary story, though the
subject is not satisfactorily ascertained. Against the pillars that
support these arches, were affixed whole-length figures, or cariatides,
in alto-relievo. Three of them still remain, though much mutilated; two
women and a man. They hold in their hands labels, with inscriptions that
fall down to their feet in front. One of the females has her hair
disposed in long braided tresses, which reach on either side to her
girdle. In this respect, as well as in the style of the sculpture and
costume, there is a resemblance between these statues and those on the
portals at St. Denys and at Chartres, as well as those formerly on that
of St. Germain des Prés, at Paris, all which are figured by Montfaucon
in his _Monumens de la Monarchie Française_, and are supposed by him to
be of the times of the Merovingian or Carlovingian dynasty; but
subsequent writers have referred them to the eleventh or twelfth

[Illustration: M. Langlois]

It was in this chapter-house that M. Langlois[6] found, among a heap of
stones, a most interesting capital, that had formerly been attached to a
double column. By his kindness, I inclose you two drawings of it. One of
them shews it in its entire form as a capital; the other exhibits the
bas-relief carved upon it[7].

[Illustration: Bas-relief on capital]

The various injuries sustained by the building, render it impossible to
ascertain the spot which this capital originally occupied; but M. Le
Prevost supposes that it belonged to some gate of the cloister, which is
now destroyed. A more curious series of musical instruments is, perhaps,
no where to be found; and it is a subject upon which authors in general
are peculiarly unsatisfactory. I am told that, in an old French romance,
the names of upwards of twenty are enumerated, whose forms and nature
are quite unknown at the present day; while, on the other hand, we are
all of us aware that painting and sculpture supply figures of many, for
which it would be extremely difficult or impossible to find names[8].

[Illustration: Musicians, from the Chapter-House at St. Georges]

The chapter-house, previously to the revolution, contained a
tomb-stone[9], uninscribed and exhibiting only a sculptured sword, under
which it was supposed that either Ralph de Tancarville himself, the
founder of the abbey, or his grandson, William, lay interred. It is of
the latter that the records of the monastery tell, how, on the fifth day
after he girded himself with the military belt, he came to the church,
and deposited his sword upon the altar, and subsequently redeemed it by
various donations, and by confirming to the monks their right to the
several benefices in his domain, which had been ceded to them by his
grandfather. - Here then, I quit you: in a few days I shall have paid my
devotions at the shrine of Jumieges: - meanwhile, in the language of the
writers of the elder day, I close this sheet with.


* * * * *


[Footnote 1: _Histoire de la Haute Normandie_, II. p. 266. VOL. II.]

[Footnote 2: _Ann. Benedict._ III. p. 674, 675. - This charter was not
among the archives of the monastery; but I am informed by M. Le Prevost,
that several are still in existence, most of them granted by the family
of the founder, but some by Kings of England. One of the latter is by
Richard Coeur de Lion, and his seal of red wax still remains appended to
it, in fine preservation. The seal, on one side, represents the king
seated upon his throne, with a pointed beard, having his crown on his
head, and a sword in one hand, and sceptre in the other: on the other
side, he is on horseback, with his head covered with a cylindrical
helmet, surmounted with a very remarkable crest, in the form of a fan:
on his shield are plainly distinguishable the three lions of
England. - From among the charters granted by the Tancarville family, M.
Le Prevost has sent me copies of two which have never yet been printed;
but which appear to deserve insertion here. One is from Lucy, daughter
of William de Tancarville, and grand-daughter of Ralph, the
chamberlain. - "Notum sit Ricardo de Vernon and Willelmo Camerario de
Tancarvilla, et veteribus et juvenibus, quòd Lucia, filia Willelmi,
Camerarii de Tancarvilla, pro animâ suâ et pro animabus antecessorum
suorum, ad ecclesiam Sti. Georgii de Bauchervilla dedit molendinum de
Waldinivilla, quod est subter aliud molendinum et molendinum de
Waldinval, liberè et quietè, et insupèr ecclesiam de Seonvilla, salvâ
elemosinâ Roberti sacerdotis in vitâ suâ, si dignus est habendi eam. Et
post mortem Willelmi capellani sui de Sancto Flocello, ad ecclesiam
suprà dictam dedit decimam de vavassoribus de Seolvilla, quam dedit in
elemosinâ habendam Willelmo capellano totâ vitâ bene et in pace et
securè, et decimas de custodiis totius terre sue que est in
Constantino. - Ego Lucia do hanc elemosinam pro animâ meâ et pro
antecessoribus ad ecclesiam Sanctii Georgii; et qui auferet ab eâ et
auferetur ab eo regnum Dei. Amen. - Testibus, Ricardo de Haia et Matille
uxore suâ et Nigello de Chetilivilla et hominibus de Sancto
Flocello." - To this is added, in a smaller hand-writing, probably the
lady's own autograph, the following sentence: - "Et precor vos quòd
ecclesia Sancti Georgii non decrescatur in tempore vestro pro Dei amore
et meo de elemosinis patris mei neque de meis." - There is still farther
subjoined, in a different hand-writing, and in a much paler ink: - "Hæc
omnia Ricardus de Vernon libenter concessit." - The other charter was
granted by William the Younger, and details a curious custom
occasionally observed in the middle ages, in making donations: -

"Universis sancte ecclesie fidelibus. Willelmus junior camerarius in
domino salutem. Notum sit presentibus et futuris, quod ego Willelmus
junior camerarius quinto die post susceptum militie cingulum veni apud
Sanctum Georgium, ibique cum honorificâ processione suscepérunt me Abbas
Ludovicus et monachi cum magno gaudio letantes; et ibi obtuli gladium
meum super altare Sti. Georgii, et tunc consilio et admonitione sociorum
meorum nobilium virorum qui mecum venerant, scilicet Roberti des Is,
dapiferi mei, et Rogerii de Calli, et Johannis de Lunda, et aliorum

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Online LibraryDawson TurnerAccount of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 → online text (page 1 of 21)