The Church of St Suliau in Sizun is my favourite Parish Enclosure – such an elegant, dramatic complex of Church, grand Triumphal Arch, Ossuary, Sacristy, and surrounding walls, although only a statue remains from the Calvary. During our time in the village I photographed the buildings at different times of the day, and in different weathers, and I did the same last year!
The South Porch and the Central Nave date from 1514, and building work on the rest of the church continued through the 16C, 17C, and 18C.
The Triumphal Arch dates from 1585-90 and the central archway used to be gated, opened only for funeral processions. Everyday access was through the two archways on either side, with a raised bar to prevent animals from straying into the Churchyard. Part of the wall containing the stairway to the top gallery was destroyed to make a road, and the entire Arch only just escaped destruction. The top gallery would have been used as a platform for preaching, and something similar can still be seen at La Martyre.
The Bell Tower was built 1728-35.
The Ossuary of 1585-88 is an interesting building, curiously asymmetrical, and now a small museum. The Apostles, who are usually inside the South Porch, are lined up here under the eaves. Below them curious figures stand between the arches of the windows. And the tympanum over the door has the Rohan coat of arms – a powerful family.
The Sacristy, because of its purpose as a repository of valuable items, was locked.
The Calvary has disappeared but it is thought these these statues in the Churchyard once stood on the Calvary: a small statue of St Suliau, and a pièta.
I was fascinated by the carvings on the buildings – let’s take a closer look.
Old photographs, including some by Georges Esteve and Meriodoc Mieusement
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