Prieure Saint Etienne, one of France’s oldest

The Prieure Saint Etienne stands on the edge of the Forêt de Brocéliande, near the town of Guer in the heart of Brittany.

Prieure Saint Etienne in Broceliande
Chapel under restoration

Farmland and pastures now replace this part of the legendary forest.

It seems that the Prieure Saint Etienne was founded in 1140.

As many religious buildings, it was erected on a Gallo-Roman site, most likely a temple.

The structure of the walls show that the old temple’s stones were re-used to build the chapel and its priory.

It is therefore the oldest chapel (known to date) in the department of Morbihan.

The priory’s tiny chapel looks very modest at first sight.

However, it contains an amazing religious and architectural heritage.

Architectural and religious heritage

Indeed, you’ll find 15th century walls paintings, a 17th century altarpiece and statue of St. Etienne and a 13th century statue of St. Onnène.

Prieure Saint Etienne in Broceliande
10th century brick work

The architectural structure of the building was heavily modified in the early 15th century and the walls of the nave repainted.

However, another series of major transformations occurred in the 1630s at the instigation of the Abbot Guillaume Provost.

These included the opening of new windows, a bell tower, a new altar and the restoration of the old prior’s accommodation.

You’ll find find the engraved commemorative slab from 1633 on the wall by the priory’s entrance door.

The priory was converted into a farm in the early 18th century.

Prieure Saint Etienne in Broceliande
Prieure Saint Etienne

Sadly, the chapel was no longer in use, and slowly fell in disrepair.

Both the chapel and the priory were confiscated and sold as national property during the French Revolution.

The chapel was even converted into a barn!

Fortunately, both building are now listed Historical Monuments.

They were also fully restored in 2011-12.

The chapel is now open to the public, however, only during the summer months.

The other sites of the magical Forêt de Brocéliande

Tombeau de Merlin, Fontaine de Jouvence, Chêne des Hindrés, Château de Comper, Chêne d’Eon or Chêne à Guillotin, Fontaine de Barenton, Jardin aux Moines, Eglise du Graal in Tréhorenteuc, Miroir aux Fées and Arbre d’Or in the Val Sans Retour, Hostié de Viviane or Tombeau des Druides, Tombeau des Géants ou Roche à la Vieille, Abbey of Paimpont, Forges de Paimpont and Pierres DroitesDepartment of Morbihan
Directions: From Guer, follow D772 towards Augan-Ploërmel for 3km then turn left on a country lane marked to Prieure Saint Etienne.
Coordinates: Lat 47.903827 – Long -2.171323

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Brittany- Latest content