The chapel and the Black Prince – La chapelle et le prince noir

(En Français plus bas)

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Between my house in town and the river Dordogne, lies a beautiful stretch of countryside with woods, meadows and swamps. I take my daily walks there. On my way, I have to go through a hamlet called Condat. In the middle ages, there was a grand castle in Condat. It was destroyed when the hundred years war with the British ended; yet, its chapel remains.

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It was built along with the castle in the 11th century by the Duke of Guyenne almost 2 centuries before the famous Sainte Chapelle in Paris. When Aquitaine (the south West of France) was British, the Princes of Wales stayed at the château and used the chapel themselves. Amongst them, the famous (and infamous) Edward of Woodstock (1330 – 1376) also known as the Black Prince. Despite his last name, not a flower child I can asure you!

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After the revolution, the little chapel was used as a tool shed. It went through several renovations over the centuries. The last one was at the end of the 19th century and another one in underway.IMG_6381

I was invited this week for a private tour. I used to attend mass there with my grand mother as a child, so this place is really dear to my heart and I couldn’t wait to see what they had done with the place. As I entered the building, I was blown away by the extent and the quality of the work that had been done. The poor chapel that had suffered a century of neglect and water damage was coming back to life under my eyes… Six master painters have been working non stop for the past six months. They made sure that only the original colors and patterns were used to maintain the integrity of the original designs. eryjy

I am not a religious person, but the talent and continued dedication of these craftsmen and women does indeed strengthen my faith and admiration for the human race… So “vive les artisans” et “vive le patrimoine Français”!

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Entre ma maison de Libourne et la rivière Dordogne, se trouve une belle étendue de campagne avec bois, prairies et marécages que l’on appelle Condat. Au moyen âge, il y avait un grand château à Condat. Il a été détruit aussitôt la fin de la guerre de cent ans. Seule sa chapelle est restée intacte. Elle fut construite avec le château au 11ème siècle par le duc de Guyenne. Lorsque l’Aquitaine était sous le joug des Britanniques, les princes de Galles séjournaient très souvent au château et utilisaient sa chapelle. Parmi eux, le célèbre (et infâme) Edward de Woodstock (1330-1376), également connu sous le nom de Prince Noir. Pas très sympa comme mec…

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Après la révolution, la petite chapelle a été utilisée comme cellier et fut oubliée sous les ronces. Elle est passé par plusieurs rénovations au cours des siècles. La dernière est en cours .

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J’étais invité cette semaine pour une visite privée de la chapelle, dirigée par Mr. Becquet, l’un des responsables de l’association qui à entrepris les travaux. J’avais l’habitude d’assister ici à la messe avec ma grand-mère étant enfant. Cette petite chapelle est très chère à mon coeur. Il me tardait vraiment de voir les résultats de tant d’heures de travail et de passion appliquée… Je n’ai pas été déçu du voyage! 

Vive le patrimoine Français et vive nos artisans!

 

34 Comments Add yours

  1. kiwiadrift says:

    Wow, truly a labor of love! I never knew churches used to be painted so beautifully until I visited Bristol Cathedral, my eyes about fell out of my head. Who knew?! All the others were just cream, cream, cream. This one is so much more detailed though, and so wonderfully organized. Sometimes I think so much detail would make it look cluttery, but it all works together so incredibly. I love historical preservation, so I’m so happy they decided to get together to restore it — but half a million euro, that’s incredible. @_@ I hope we’ll get to see more in the future!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Yes, Europe is charged with history and we must protect our heritage at all costs…

  2. intlxpatr says:

    It makes my heart sing to see that restoration going on! Thank you, Stephane, for these truly glorious photos.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I’m glad you liked it. It is such important work…

  3. Clanmother says:

    What a wonderful tour!! Thank you! I have always enjoyed the history of the Black Prince!!!

  4. I love the lighting in these photos… so beautiful. 🙂

  5. That is breathtaking. They are doing an amazing job.

  6. americanmominbordeaux says:

    Wow what a beautiful chapel and such wonderful work to restore it. I love walking into churchs and cathedraels – they are often so peaceful and tranquil – a place to get away and reflect. That chapel will certainly be beautiful when it’s finished. Such a labor of love by those artisans! So nice to see history appreciated and restored to show it’s original grandor and special place. Thanks for sharing – will have to check it out next time I’m out toward Saint Emilion – which will be soon as I need to do some research out there.

  7. belocchio says:

    Tlhis is an extraordinary story of restoration. I found it of particular interest as I have been involved in gold-leafing projects and appreciate the enormous of work involved.

  8. londoncab53 says:

    Beautiful! Excellent post as always, your photos are really, really great Stephane! Imagine what us mere mortals could do if we didnt’ have so much government rules and regs:) lol

  9. chef mimi says:

    Oh how beautiful. I’m glad there are such talented craftsmen and artists left in the world who can work on such important projects.

  10. Sweetteamob says:

    Wow! What an amazing result for the project! It truly shows the dedication to preserving history in France

    1. My French Heaven says:

      It most certainly does, but I must say that neither the state nor the church helped in any way… All privately funded…

  11. Such lovely artwork, Stephane. Thanks for sharing your pics. 🙂

    1. My French Heaven says:

      My pleasure 😉

  12. Well, you’ve certainly appealed to the writer side of me this time, Stephane! Beautiful pictures and insight into the medieval world of which I am so fond 🙂 Thank you!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You are most welcome my dear Tamara! I can totally imagine one of your novels taking place in and around the chapel. The feel of it is just right for romance and mystery… Do you remember The Name of The Rose with Sean Connery? 🙂

  13. Carl Johnson says:

    My wife will go nuts as she loves English history. Your salmon tartare recipe sounds great.
    I make a similar recipe with both fresh and smoked salmon with a little chopped shallots
    and parsley. It is then seasoned with agrumento which is an Italian olive oil pressed with
    lemons. I am looking forward to meeting you in June.
    Carl Johnson

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Me too Carl! You know, I think that salmon tartare is the one thing everybody loves (that and my shrimp tempura). Whenever I am invited somewhere, I bring some with me and people devour it… See you in June!

  14. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    What stunning restoration work and detail.
    Gives me great hope for the human race when I see the time and effort put in to restoring these magnificent churches, chapels and castles. Love to see more if you have the time and interest in taking some more photos.
    Are they restoring the exterior as well?

    1. My French Heaven says:

      They restored everything including the roof, the bells outside… It is quite a special place…

  15. When I visit I must see this– I’m a big history buff and love ancient churches and chapels. Amazing restoration!

    1. My French Heaven says:

      There are many more I can show you Julia. This one just happens to be one of my favorites because of my close relationship with it and how intimate it feels…

  16. How wonderful that it’s being restored! And what a wonderful job is being done on that restoration!

    Have a marvelous week, Stephane.

    janet

    1. My French Heaven says:

      You too darling Janet!

  17. I am absolutely overjoyed with the quality I see being done with the restoration. We usually see our Medieval buildings as faded and grey; we forget how beautiful that they must have once been with color.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I agree James. They have done an incredible job at respecting the original work. I would have loved to have seen the greek temples all painted for instance…

  18. Oh Stephene…say it isn’t so that they used this as a tool shed?! Oh have mercy…I can’t imagine!! The human spirit is amazing isn’t it? To see these crafted volunteers giving so much of their time and talent…it is a beautiful thing.

    1. My French Heaven says:

      I know, quite amazing. It was even used as a cellar for a while…

  19. John Rail & Jonathan Kaufman says:

    What beautiful colors! What beautiful work! Who is paying for this wonderful restoration?

    John in California

    >

    1. My French Heaven says:

      Hi John, the catholic church won’t pay for it. They have so many buildings, they didn’t even know they owned this one and couldn’t even find the deed. So locals got together and asked for donations. The whole project was half a million Euros…

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