Local Heart, Global Soul

November 17, 2013

Vervins and Gronard Fortify Themselves For Our Visit…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another post from my last summer’s diary, and our European travels with our Singaporean friend “Velveteen” (I use her internet screen name to protect her privacy). We have just finished lunch in the small northern French town of Vervins, and now we are going to show her something that is off the tourist trail that is specific to this are of France: Fortified Churches.

What is  fortified church?  I found a website (link below) that summed it up perfectly :  “The 14th century saw the end of the tranquillity in the region of Thierache. The Hundred Years War ravaged the plain and Flanders made some lethal incursions into Picardy.  After the soldiers, came bands of robbers, deserters and rebels who took advantage of the disorder to seize castles and hold travellers to ransom. So the villages turned their churches into strongholds.

These are strange churches with  high façades like castle keeps rising out of peaceful meadows. You might mistake them for some fortified manor house, or military building; but they are the modest parish churches of Thiérache in northeastern France.”

We had a funny moment because I was telling Velveteen about the churches, Himself was busy sorting out some thing at the van and when he returned she excitedly said to him “today we are going to visit fortified churches!”.

I suddenly saw Himself’s face change from a smile to a look of horror… Velveteen was perplexed by the change but knowing my husband well I started to laugh…. and laugh and laugh.

Velveteen has an accent, and on occasion we have had some interesting interpretations of what she was saying and this was certainly one of those occasions.

I immediately worked out from Himself’s face what he thought he had heard, so once I could control my tears of mirth, I explained to him… “Today we are going to visit Fort-i-fied Churches“and not what he heard which was “Today we are going to visit Forty-five Churches!”. Once Himself understood what was really said, his total look of relief was equally funny to behold, and Velveteen joined in the joke.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Vervins, where we are now is a commune in the Aisne department in Picardy, northern France.

I couldn’t find much information on this particular church, but for the next fortified church,  just down the road in the village of  Gronard, I found some  information after some research.

“The marquee of the Gronard church bears the date 1537, the Choir and transept date from the 16th century, and are vaulted.

 The nave and tower  date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Located in the centre of the village, the Church has two distinct parts. The choir and transepts were built in white stone, well paired. The nave and the tower are brick. Two towers frame the entrance.   The choir is a rare architectural quality in the region.  This church with its fortress style and its Dungeon are characteristic of the evolution of the fortified churches of  Thiérache.”

These are amazingly imposing buildings… you can imagine the inhabitants of the towns and villages finding comfort in having such a place to take refuge in. My first photographs are all of the fortified church in Vervins,  followed by the church in Gronard.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph ©Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Leaving Vervins…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Ok, a small distraction as I indulge in my fascination with cobbles and street stones… Himself doesn’t get it at all but I’m not alone, Velveteen does and she approves…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This time really leaving Vervins…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Heading towards Gronard…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Half fairy tale castle and half church…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

… a small resident…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

and leaving the village, and old style barn…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

http://france.knoji.com/the-strange-fortified-churches-of-thierache/

http://en.patrimoine-de-france.com/aisne/gronard/eglise-1.php


Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.