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Heritage

NOTRE DAME CHURCH

Located along the edge of Port-Bail's haven, the Notre-Dame church holds exhibitions from April to September. It's Port-Bail's oldest religious monument. The charters of St Wandrille Abbey are evidence that Port-Bail existed as early as the 7th century (670/687) as well a monastery which was destroyed by the Normans in 856. It's this monastery, which was restored in 1026, which formed the origins of the Notre-Dame church, which initially was a monastic church and then and parish church which closed in 1909.

 

The primitive plan was modified by adding two chapels:

  • Ste Barbe, which constitutes the tower (15th Century)
  • St Jacques, the seignorial chapel (16th century),

Many parts of its history still remain to this day, such as its 15th century wooden frame, a painted funereal band, 16th century polychrome stone statues, funereal stones and magnificent capitals dating back to the 12th century. Its fortified tower has had many uses: including a watch tower, guard post and barracks. Today it is used as a marker point by boats as they enter into the haven.

Guided visits take place throughout the year for groups and there are individual guided visits during the school holidays. To book, contact the Tourist Information Office.

In July and August, visits from Tuesday to Saturday: 10:30am-12:30pm and 3:30-6:30pm, Sundays 3:30-6:30pm.

CHURCH OF ST MARTIN

Parish church open every day. On 6th June 1944, an English plane bombarded Port-Bail, razing homes and setting fire to the church. The ruins were left exposed to the elements, and became overrun with vegetation. It was back in use in 1956. The main sections had held firm: a large nave, a chancel with a flat chevet, the bell tower with its pitched roof and an aisle on the south side. The porch was built in the 15th century in front of a Roman portal.
Look out for: the current baptist chapel, the west stained glass window which relates to an event in 747: "A small fishing boat ran aground on the coast. On it a manuscript from the gospels, a chest containing a hook of St George, a few other saint related relics and the remains of a cross were discovered These precious objects were put onto a cart pulled by 2 cows. At the point where the carriage stopped in Brix, 3 churches dedicated to St George, the Virgin and Saint Croix were built. These churches would then be destroyed during the Norman invasions. Maybe the relics lost at sea belonged to pilgrims returning from Rome on their way back to England? ».
The cross at the old cemetery is at the foot of the chevet and dates back to the 17th century. The Gouey cemetery was located where the place aux arbres square now stands.

 



 

GALLO-ROMAN BAPTISTRY

Discovered in 1956, when building the primary school, the Port-Bail baptistry has an original hexagon shape. Relic dating from around the 6th century, it's the only baptistry to have been found north of the river Loire. Baptism by immersion was practised here by the bishop on Easter night. It was supplied by water from a source whose traces were rediscovered in 1958. It became the St Michel funeral chapel between the 7th and the 8th century and was razed to the ground in 1697 due to its poor condition.

An historic day out not to be missed!! Visits around the outside only.

 

 

ST SIMEON CHAPEL

Chapelle Sainte SiméonThe Saint Simeon Chapel is located on the coastal road between Port-Bail and Barneville. The building you see in the picture dates back to the 14th century. However, there was aready a chapel here in the 12th century. Inside there are statues of St Simeon and a wooden frame with an engraved beam which dates back to 1567 as does the bell from the tower.
It is also home to some great examples of baroque style furniture. On the outside, don't miss: the sacristy rose window, the representation of St Simeon on the back of the cross and a sun dial.
Dedicated to St Simeon the Stylite or the Senior, who sits at the top of his pillar in complete isolation, with a life dedicated to reflection, prayer and exhorting the crowds, he died in 459 and was buried in Antioche.
For "St Siméon" (invoked for healing sufferers of eczema and plantar warts), the "fête des accordailles" (additional marriage contract signature ceremony) was organised and as many as 22 barrels of cider were drunk! The tradition of Pentecost Monday is marked by a pilgrimage and a brioche sale, with all proceeds going to the chapel.