Ourscamp, Église Notre-Dame


    A Cistercian monastery was founded by Simon de Vermandois, bishop of Noyon (1128-46), in 1129 in the parish known from Carolingian times as Urbs campus: the first church was consecrated in 1134. Growing prosperity led to the construction of a new church, begun around 1154 and consecrated in 1201. The eastern parts of this church were replaced with a new chevet (the existing one), beginning around 1233, work probably completed by around 1257. The community was dissolved in 1791 and the nave demolished by 1812 when the church was transformed into a mill for the production of wool. Later the ruins were transformed into a romantic garden.


    Begun ca. 1155


    Cistercian monastery with an aisled nave of nine bays intersected by a transept and a chevet terminated by a five-segmented hemicycle surrounded by shallow chapels. In a general sense the chevet plan may be compared with that of Longpont and Royaumont: however, Ourscamp has only five chapels and is very similar in plan to the Abbaye of Royaumont.


    The nave, of which only fragments survive, including the western frontispiece in its lower parts, probably had a two-story rib-vaulted elevation like Pontigny. In the chevet, two stories, arcade and clerestory, are divided approximately half way up by a horizontal cornice. The arcade is carried by slender columns with colonnettes applied to their front surfaces (like Soissons). The upper story is made up of very tall windows formed of two lancets capped by an oculus (like Notre-Dame of Paris). The lowest part of each window has been blocked to form a 'triforium'--except in the axial bay where the glazing continued all the way down.


    The western frontispiece and fragments of the nave remain from the church constructed after 1154; the chevet and transept were rebuilt between c1230 and c1260 with work moving from east to west.


    The chevet of Ourscamp, together with Longpont and Royaumont, represent is a new type of Cistercian church one which does not reflect the chevet plat but reflects new 'cathedral' type. The builders made references not only to Soissons b-1051, but also to prototypes further afield, notably to Notre-Dame of Paris (the long two-lancet windows).

    Abbaye d'Ourscamp: notice historique, Noyon, ca. 1960
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    -----, "The Twelfth-Century Church at Ourscamp", Speculum, vol. 56, No 1., Jan., 1981, pp. 28-40.
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