Friday, September 17, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux is a French city in the Calvados region of Normandy. It sits on the Aure River, a few miles before it empties into the English channel and occupies the site of Augustodurum, an ancient Roman town. It was thus near the site of the D-Day Invasion by Allied forces in the Second World War and was the first city to be liberated from German occupation. 

In this Photochrom print, however, the city is shown as it was around 1910.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayeux is said to be the oldest cathedral in Normandy.  The current structure -- or at least the parts of it that have endured -- was consecrated July 14, 1077. Built by the family of Duke William of Normandy, it replaced an earlier church dating from the Merovingian era. Thirty years later, fire destroyed all but the two towers. It was rebuilt then and again after other misfortunes.

Each time, some of the earlier elements were incorporated into redesigns, so features characteristic of several architectural eras are visible. The 1077 cathedral was built in the Norman-Romanesque style but as rebuilding took place, it became more 13th Century Gothic in character.

This historic cathedral fortunately has remained standing through religious and political strife, including two World Wars. It is, or has been, home to historical treasures including two pipe organs created in the 1860s by Aristide Cavaille-Coll.

The patron of the 1077 cathedral, Duke William of Normandy, is perhaps best known for his exploits in invading England and defeating King Harold at the Battle of Hastings, for which he became known as William "the Conqueror."

Scenes portraying the invasion and conquest of England were memorialized in an epic tapestry alleged to be the work of Matilda, wife of Duke William. The tapestry is 20 inches wide and 214 feet long and embroidered with colorful yarns that represent in pictorial form this collision of Anglo-French history known as the Norman Invasion. The tapestry was "discovered" in 1730 and is preserved in the library in Bayeux. It is a visual reminder of customs and events in early Norman-French history.

Photochrom images (taken circa 1910) are from 
the Library of Congress Collection.


Alan Burnett said...

The first photograph is quite visually stunning. And, as always, such fascinating information about the subject matter, thanks so much for sharing it.

Marilyn said...

I love the second photo, this cathedral is an art piece, I also love the lady in this photo. Thanks for an interesting post.

Joan said...

These old cathedrals just blow me away. I live in a country where our oldest standing building is not 200 years old. One that stood at the time of William the Conqueror ... amazing. Lovely photos. Thank you.


thanx 4 including the vid. hats off to MATHILDE (french for MATILDA)for the amazing legacy. though one might be repelled by the horrors of war, such is the history of mankind. great post!!

Christine H. said...

I love the subtle tinting on the last two cards. That tapestry is is so amazing. I would love to see it in person. Great blog posts make me feel as if I have been transported on a quick adventure through time and space. This one certainly did that.

Nancy said...

What a grand post about a grand cathedral. The cathedral is exquisite and the tapestry amazing. It's 71 yards long! (Feet I understand but when it comes to something so long, yards work better for me.) I wonder if it's all one long piece of linen or if she stitched lengths together. And such detail! Amazing.