Visit Chancelade Abbey
A few kilometres west of Perigueux, in a very attractive setting within the Beauronne valley of the Perigord Blanc, is the Abbaye de Chancelade.
Explore the Chancelade Abbey
The abbey began in 1128 with the arrival of a monk from the Abbey of Cellefrouin en Angoumois which he had governed for some years. Fleeing the persecution of Gerard d'Angouleme, count of Angoumois he arrived at Chancelade and decided that with its water source and natural cave he could establish a hermitage. By 1129 10 monks had joined him and they decided to build an abbey. By 1132 the first buildings were in place.
It is now possible to visit the abbey, and to admire the church, belltower and other buildings that date from the middle ages. There are a couple of 13th century frescoes in the church, although much of the building dates from a more recent (17th century) renovation, having replaced the original 11th-12th century abbey.
The abbey has an attractively decorated doorway and inside it has a lovely vaulted ceiling and at the back there is a stone balcony built above a stone arch spanning the width of the church. The transept is the best preserved part of the original 12th century abbey and is covered with a dome. There are also a couple of frescoes in the abbey.
The ensemble consistes of a cluster of buildings - the abbey, the logis, a chapel, a mill and so on, around a central courtyard. Most are open to be visited in the peak season. There is also a lavoir.
The abbey once had a magnificent library with 4500 books but sadly many of the books were set fire to in 1793 following the French revolution. Happily 500 survivied and in 1794 twenty herdsmen took the surviving books to Perigueux. These survive to this day in the Bibliotheque Municipale de Perigueux (along with others from other monasteries).
Places to visit nearby
The 12th century priory at nearby Merlande, founded by the monks from Chancelade and a few kilometres distance - is usually visited at the same time, and there is a footpath that connects the two locations.
Chancelade abbey is very close to Perigueux which is a wonderful town and well worth a visit. It has an incredible Bzyantine cathedral which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a maze of charming medieval streets.
A little to the north of the abbey is the picturesque town of Brantome, home to a large and very elegant Benedictine abbey.
Photos of Chancelade Abbey
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