Angers, Église Saint-Serge


    The Benedictine abbey of S-Serge and S-Bacchus, is situated on the water meadows beside the river Maine to the north of the city. Around the year 1000 the Benedictine rule was adopted and a major rebuilding appears to have taken place soon afterwards, perhaps under the sponsorship of Hubert de Vendôme (1006-1047), bishop of Angers and Abbot Vulgrin (consecration in 1058). A well-equipped library and scriptorium were set up at the same time. The new chevet, formed of a rectangle with with six slender columns was inspired by the salle des malades of the Hospital of S-Jean, located opposite the monastery.


    Begun ca. 11th century


    The central crossing space with transept arms seems narrow in relation to the spacious choir and nave. The choir is formed of a rectangle 21 by 14m; six slender columns of choir (diameter 0.33m and height 8.21m.) divide the space into main vessel and aisles. To the east of the rectangular termination of the chevet is a rectangular axial chapel. Lateral chapels flank the choir, the south one, with an apse, embodying outer walls from the older building. The four-bay aisled nave is massive fifteenth-century work; there is a tower in the north-west angle


    The choir is a one-story hall church. Octopartite vaults are heavily domed up; severies are very thin and penetrated by the stones of the ribs and tiercerons. The transverse arches, diagonals and ridge ribs all have the same value, producing an incredibly unified interior space in the twelve bays of the chevet. What a contrast between the austere, blocky forms of the outside and the delicacy of this interior!


    The oldest parts of the edifice, found in the crossing, presumably belong to the church consecrated in 1058. There are no written sources to help us establish the date of construction of the chevet. Mussat, pp231-232 relies upon comparisons with the transept of the Cathedral (S-Serge is later) and the second campaign at the cathedral of Poiters to suggest a date between 1215 and 1225. The nave was rebuilt in the fifteenth century


    This is a church where the builders appear to have drawn upon the forms of a hospital. Its date places it well in advance of the well-known grandes salles of Royaumont and Ourscamp. Elaborate iconography of choir keystones: Apostles, Bosom of Abraham; resurrected Christ; angels holding instruments of Passion; King David and Coronation of Virgin

    Chauvin, Y. Cartulaires de l'abbaye Saint-Serge et Saint d'Angers: Premier et S
    Second livres: (XIe et XIIe siècles). Angers, 1997.
    Durville, G. Le cartulaire de Saint-Serge d'Angers. Nantes, 1903
    Farcy, L. de, Monographie de la cathédrale d'Angers, 4 vols., 1905-1926
    Mussat, A., Le style gothique dans l'ouest de la France, Paris, 1963, pp223-232