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(canton of Montivilliers, Seine-Maritime)

Abbey Church of Notre-Dame

    The abbey of Montivilliers is a foundation from the end of the 7th century, destroyed by the Scandinavian invasions and then re-established under the favour of the Dukes of Normandy. In 1035, Robert the Magnificent established there a community of nuns (Moniales), thereby returning to the original vocation of the abbey. The first abbess was his aunt Béatrice, daughter of Richard I. Major construction campaigns were undertaken in the years 1060-1080, and again subsequently at the beginning of the 12th century, leaving behind the prime example of Benedictine architecture in Haute-Normandie from the period of William the Conqueror and Robert Courtehose. The plan is a traditional one: western building mass with two towers, large un-vaulted nave, projecting transept, lantern tower and gradated tower. The older parts are located in the choir and in the base of the western mass (end of the 11th century). The nave of which only the south wall remains is from the early 12th century. In the mid 12th century in c. 1140, the transept had added to it vaulting with crossed ogives, and was among the first attempts at this technique in Normandy, perhaps under the influence of English models (such as Durham cathedral). The organisation of the whole was disturbed by the reconstruction of the north side aisle of in gothic style (15th to 16th century) and the south tower of façade disappeared in the 17th century. The choir itself underwent major changes in the 17th century.
A sculpted decoration in slight relief on the arch of the chapel in the south transept crossing shows animal themes and human figures (biblical characters, warriors, abbot saints) the dating and interpretation of which remain problematic.


- Baylé, Maylis. “ Montivilliers, abbatiale Notre-Dame ”, L’architecture normande au moyen âge, actes du colloque de Cerisy-la-Salle, septembre 1994. - Caen : Presses de l'Université. Condé-sur-Noireau : Ch. Corlet, 1997.
- Baylé, Maylis. “ L’abbatiale de Montivilliers dans l’art normand ”, Montivilliers, hier, aujourd’hui, demain, n°10, avril 1999.
- Musset, Lucien. - Normandie romane, 2, Haute-Normandie, Zodiaque, 1974, p. 129-137.