We had a lovely walk around Locmaria Berrien and now it was time for sightseeing in the nearby town which just happened to have a church! Poullaouen is apparently named after a 6C Irish saint, St Luan, but that came much later. The area was originally settled by the Osismi, a Gaulish tribe, who already lived here in the 4C BC, and were later taken over by the Romans – the town is crossed by Roman roads and a road passing the town is called ‘La Voie Romaine’. No wonder there is a feeling of age as you walk through the surrounding lanes and woods.
The church is very big for such a small town – only c.4,000 inhabitants in the 1800s, but perhaps more in earlier times. Where did the money come from for a building like this? Perhaps the wealth was created from the lead and iron mines in this part of Brittany: apparently at one time two thirds of the lead used in France came from the mines of Poullaouen and nearby Huelgoat.
The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul was built in the first half of the 17C with the Bell Tower being rebuilt in the late 1800s. The front façade is curious, quite unlike any of the other churches in the region – columns and curls? There is a South Porch, a Calvary, Sacristy, and a walled enclosure, but I couldn’t see an Ossuary, and sadly the Church was locked.
A bit of an enigma?
Mining in Poullaouen
Old photographs of the Church, including the front facade by Georges Esteve
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