The Berrichon – Amuse-bouche #8 (Dennis Aubrey)


Today’s appetizer is an examination of the berrichon, a little known feature of Romanesque architecture. The berrichon is a passageway in the wall separating a nave from the choir. In this case of this version from the Abbaye Sainte Marie aux Dames in Saintes, the passages allow someone to pass from the large open nave into the side chapels on the other side of the choir wall.

Abbaye Sainte Marie aux Dames, Saintes (Charente-Maritime)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Abbaye Sainte Marie aux Dames, Saintes (Charente-Maritime) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

In this ground plan of the Abbey church, we can see the location identified by the two yellow dots on either side of the chancel opening onto the transepts. These passages are usually found in churches that have only a single nave and no side aisles.

Plan, Abbaye Sainte Marie aux Dames, Saintes (Charente-Maritime)

Plan, Abbaye Sainte Marie aux Dames, Saintes (Charente-Maritime)

The berrichon allows the movement of people to the apsidal and transept chapels without disturbing the worship.

This is part of a series of posts featuring an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized appetizer to whet the appetite of diners. Each of these will explore a single interesting feature of medieval architecture or sculpture. To see other amuse-bouches, follow this link.

6 responses to “The Berrichon – Amuse-bouche #8 (Dennis Aubrey)

  1. ooh,i am so silly ,i thought it was a french dog,delighted to learn something new., 1st time i think i have noticed this room.

    • Actually not, Lawrence. The side aisles actually run the entire length of the nave on the outer side of the nave arcade, and terminates at the transept. The berrichon is the passage between the nave side and the chancel side through the choir wall.

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