Bellenaves, Église Saint-Martin

    Parish of the diocese of Bourges. Seat of a Benedictine priory dependent on Menat in Auvergne. A nave of three bays vaulted with an unarticulated barrel vault is flanked by very narrow aisles with long barrel vaults opening on to a square crossing by with rib vaults extended into transept arms with transverse pointed barrel vault. East of the crossing is a barrel vaulted choir opening through tall arches into lateral chapels that project beyond the body of the nave. A tall central apse is flanked by absidioles. Window openings in the east end are unsusually large and the capitals relatively stubby suggesting a date in the second part of the 12th century. Tall late Gothic chapels have been added to the lateral chapels of the choir, replacing what may have been 12th century absidioles forming part of a five-apse planIt is clear that the arcade piers of the nave, the central vault and the aisle barrel vaults have been inserted into an older (11th century?) wooden-roofed structure. Signs of this retrofitting can be found in the extreme narrowness of the aisle and the signs of the original fenestration in the exterior wall. This retrofitting probably took place after the construction of the crossing and choir.The western frontispiece has arcaded decoration and a carved tympanum, or rather, a triangular lintel, with Christ in Majesty and the Last Supper with the Washing of the Disciples' Feet. Extensive restoration work has taken place from the 18th century to modern times.