The Church of St Germain of Auxerre at Pleyben is one of the great Parish Enclosures with a full set of buildings: Church, Sacristy, Ossuary, Calvary, Triumphal Arch, and walled enclosure. It is dedicated to St Germain who was a Bishop of Auxerre in the 5C, and like many other churches in the region it replaces an earlier building. But why remember St Germain here? Did he work or travel in Brittany at some point?
There are two bell towers: the Renaissance style Tower of St Germain (1588) (right below) built above the South Porch, and a tower in Gothic style. And in front of the towers is the Triumphal Arch of 1725, or the ‘Door of the Dead’, as the coffins would enter through this archway.
The Ossuary was built in the 16C but when it was restored in the 18C (1733 is the date over the doorway) it became the Chapel of the Dead, dedicated to Saints Simon and Jude, although it seems the building was also used as a school and a post office!
Work on the Calvary began in 1555, with further statues added later. The carving was done in the workshop of Henry and Bastien Prigent, in Landerneau in the 16C. In 1650-51 further statues were added. It is widely reported the carving came from the workshop of Yves Ozanne in Brest, but closer investigation shows they were made by Julien Ozanne, an engineer responsible for the fortifications of Brest in the 17C. The Calvary was moved to its current site in the complex in 1738. The Calvary is described in great detail here – it would need a lot of time to photograph all the figures – next time!
The Sacristy dates from 1680-90 and to me looks very similar to that at Guimiliau.
The South Porch dates from 1588 with a statue of St Germain above the arch, and will lead me into an eagerly anticipated interior.
The Parish Enclosure
The Stained Glass in the Church at Pleyben
The Church in Pleyben
A drawing of the Church c.1890 – very interesting! And an interesting document on the development of Pleyben