Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 eBook

Dawson Turner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 302 pages of information about Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2.
groined, and the groinings spring from fanciful corbels.  On either side of the nave, near the choir, is a recess in the wall, carved with tabernacle-work, and serving for a piscina.  Recesses of this kind, though of frequent occurrence in English churches, do not often appear in France.  Still less common are those elaborate screens of carved timber, often richly gilt or gorgeously painted, which separate the nave from the chancel in the churches of many of our smaller villages at home.  The only one I ever recollect to have seen in France was at Moulineaux.—­I also observed a mutilated pillar, which originally supported the altar, ornamented with escalop shells and fleurs-de-lys in bold relief.  It reminded me of one figured in the Antiquarian Repertory, from Harold’s chapel, in Battle Abbey[54].

Immediately after leaving Moulineaux, the road winds along the base of a steep chalk hill, whose brow is crowned by the remains of the famous castle of Robert the Devil, the father of Richard Fearnought.  Robert the Devil is a mighty hero of romance; but there is some difficulty in discovering his historical prototype.  Could we point out his gestes in the chronicle, they would hardly outvalue his adventures, as they are recorded in the nursery tale.  Robert haunts this castle, which appears to have been of great extent, though its ruins are very indistinct.  The walls on the southern side are rents, and covered with brush-wood; and no architectural feature is discernible.  Wide and deep fosses encircle the site, which is undermined by spacious crypts and subterraneous caverns.—­The fortress is evidently of remote, but uncertain, antiquity:  it was dismantled by King John when he abandoned the duchy.  The historians of Normandy say that it was re-fortified during the civil wars; and the fact is not destitute of probability, as its position is bold and commanding.

Bourg-Theroude, our next stage, is one of those places which are indebted to their names alone for the little importance they possess.  At present, it is a small assemblage of mean houses, most of them inns; but its Latin appellation, Burgus Thuroldi, commemorates no less a personage than one of the preceptors of William the Conqueror, and his grand constable at the time when he effected the conquest of England.—­The name of Turold occurs upon the Bayeux tapestry, designating one of the ambassadors dispatched by the Norman Duke to Guy, Earl of Ponthieu; and it is supposed that the Turold there represented was the grand constable[55].—­The church of Bourg-Theroude, which was collegiate before the revolution, is at present uninteresting in every point of view.

About half way from this place to Brionne, we came in sight of the remains of the celebrated abbey of Bec, situated a mile and half or two miles distant to our right, at the extremity of a beautiful valley.  We had been repeatedly assured that scarcely one stone of this formerly magnificent building was left upon another; but it would have shewn an unpardonable want of curiosity to have passed so near without visiting it:  even to stand upon the spot which such a monastery originally covered is a privilege not lightly to be foregone:—­

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Account of a Tour in Normandy, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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