The Collegiate church of

Text: Yves-Jean Riou
Photographs: Alain Dagorn, Christian Rome
Graphics documentation: Zoé Lambert.
HTML : Christophe Chetaneau (CC&ZV)

Version Française
Location plan

1) Notre-Dame-la-Grande
in 1699; water-colour in the Gaignières collection
We know nothing for certain about the origins of this religious establishment, of which the earliest mention appears in the year 924 AD in the Redon cartulary. The church is situated at the centre of the old city of Poitiers, near the palace of the Counts of Poitou, dukes of Aquitaine. But it seems to have had less to do with these dukes than with the bishop of Poitiers, the abbot responsible for its community of canons. It also had close links with the town itself and its public authorities, which often used the chapter-house for its deliberations, and which, from 1428 at least, joined each year in the commemoration of a legendary miracle. Each Easter Monday, a statue of the Virgin, known as the Virgin of the Keys, was paraded around the ramparts of the town. This venerated statue still survives today, kept in the choir of the church.
Apart from a small section of wall to the north, which is older, most of the church dates from the eleventh century. It has been enlarged since this time, towards the west, with new chapels added around the choir and to the north of the nave, additions which modify the church's plan. But, if we compare a 1699 drawing, held in the Gaignières collection (image 1), and a general view of the church taken from the same angle today, it is easy to see how the principal masses of the building's volumes have scarcely changed. A major restoration project has recently revealed all the beauty of the church's splendid façade. The interior of the church (image 2), with its high-quality sculpted decoration (image 5) also conserves some superb pieces of liturgical furniture (image 3 and image 4), dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

2) Interior of
the church
3) Entombment,
4) Seventeenth-
century pulpit
5) Capital from
the ambulatory

Ministère de la culture, page d'accueil L'Inventaire général, page d'accueil
© Inventaire général - ADAGP.
Toute reproduction est soumise à l'autorisation préalable
de l'Inventaire général, auteur des textes et des illustrations.
Pour envoyer vos remarques

For further information :
The images featuring in this"virtual" discovery of the Collegiate church of
Notre-Dame-la-Grande, in the Poitou-Charentes departement, are taken from the collection :
Itinéraires du patrimoine published by l'Inventaire général des monuments et des richesses artistiques de la France,
Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles de Poitou-Charentes.
(Itinéraires du patrimoine, ISSN 1159-1722 ; 85).
ISBN 2-905764-12-0.

44p. : ill. ; 22,5 cm.