Built by the Abbot of Maillezais (Abbot Theodelin) at the request of William the Great, Duke of Aquitaine, and consecrated in 1028, the Church of Notre-Dame originally consisted of two side aisles and nine bays, (of which only 6 remain today).
This prestigious monument is an example of the Romanesque architecture of the Bas-Poitou. It was graded as an historic monument in 1840 by Prosper Mérimée. Then began the reconstruction and the restoration of this building, which had already been the object of repairs and alterations, following, notably, the damage from the wars of religion. The spire at the top of the church tower was replaced by an octagonal bell tower, and only the three first bays, and the crypt and the choir restored.
The entrance door demands one’s admiration: an immense gabled wall framed by two massive columns. The lower romanesque part, essentially symbolic, comprises twin doors each framed by two arches. A larger arch encloses the two doors.
The upper gothic part, is a narrative presented on two bands: The Last Supper, and the Ascension.
The crypt whose shape matches that of the choir above retains its ancient forms and character. There remain several sculptures, amongst which are the recumbent figure of a knight, and a beautiful romanesque head. There is a video, an initiative of the association ‘Patrimoine Vouvantais”, which offers visitors a history and an interpretation of the portal’s sculptures.
The Theodelin Nave is the only part still existing from the 11th century. It is separated from the 3 bays of the Church which are still consecrated for worship, and was subject to restoration which allowed its re-opening to the public in 1995. ( The roof framework collapsed in 1910). It is now used as an exhibition area.
« Une irrésistible ascension », vidéo réalisée par l’association du Patrimoine du Vouvantais