The Benedictine Abbey of Jumièges is quite a spectacular sight, with the white stone of the ruins standing out amongst the surrounding green trees.
The Abbey was founded in 654 and has gone through many modifications and reconstructions since then. Although in a state of ruin these days, it has been conserved to a high standard and feels a magical place.
You can take a walk through most of the Abbey remains, entering via the 14th century Gatehouse (which houses a shop and toilets).
The most impressive part of the ruins to me was the majestic façade of the Notre Dame abbey church, who's towers are 46 metres high. Take a walk through the walls and pause to reflect in the cloister.
The Abbey was founded in 634 by St. Philibert. It has been destroyed a couple times and rebuilt, once by William the Conqueror. The French Revolution did it in and it was actually used as a quarry for a while.
There is a lot left, however, and it is an amazing sight. You often see artists sitting in or near the Abbey painting. There are concerts and evening lumieres in season. The grounds make a lovely walk. It is a very worthwhile visit and a wonderful drive from nearly anywhere in Haut-Normandie.
St. Peter's Church was first built in the 10C! It may have been razed in 945. The last church was partly built in the 13C and finished between 1332-39. Thus it is mostly in rich Gothic style. However the first bays on the west utilized remnants of the early Carolingian church.
One must start at the Gatehouse where tickets of entry are obtained. The original gatehouse is embedded in this structure (on the right in the picture) . It is of the 14C and has two unequal openings from a vaulted space, at the bottom of a square building. The topping and the adjacent building in neogothic style is from 1860. Far beyond the Abbey past one-time formal gardens and fields stands the Abbot's lodgings of about 1670. Then there is the inside of the undercroft, west of the cloister, a ruin left after destruction of an overlying library. The cellars are unstable and cannot be entered.
The lateral elevation of the nave is of three levels: the lowest is a tall double-thick arched arcade, above this is a 3-windowed/bay gallery which stretched into the transepts and a modestly tall clerestory above. Lateral to the nave are remnants of the groin vaulted aisles; the tall galleries were above that. Remember that one is standing in the tallest nave in Normandy (81 ft. high)! Look around and find remnants of the chapels with Romanesque characteristics.
This is a Benedictine Norman Romanesque style monastery. As one approaches from the gatehouse the two tall towers (150 ft; 51m tall) (See our Introduction picture), which have lost their steeples, unexpectedly stick out through the tall trees in this rural setting looking like the extinct dinosaurs which they are. The layout is typical for monasteries: a church whose facade is in "H" pattern, extending south from this a wall which is a remnant of the undercroft, a special room along the west side of the obliterated cloister area, opposite on the west (unseen as yet) the ruins of the chapter house and the Church of St.-Pierre (Peter). Entering through the facade reveals the roofless nave and a large arch topped by brickwork and pierced by windows. This diaphragm arch is what remains of the west wall of the transept tower. There were other transverse diaphragm transverse arches segmenting and regularizing the rest of the nave but only fragments remain. This was perhaps the first nave built in a modular 2-bay square form which achieved regularity. Beyond the arch the rest of the church (the chancel and transepts) are essentially gone. Look carefully at the center of the "H"; the midsection is a three story porch (or narthex) which projects forward about 10 ft. Above it is a recessed gable that hid the flat long-gone wooden nave roof. This pattern is a classic Romanesque feature (we have seen an earlier one at Tournus).
The abbey was sold after the revolution and bought in 1852 by the family Lepel-Cointer. In 1946 the state purchases the complex. The whole complex has been called the most beautiful ruin in France.
The Abbey of Jumièges has been founded in 654 by St. Filiberto and it knows a notable development up to the Viking (among 841 and 940) invasions. The rebirth comes following the dukes of Normandie.
The Abbaye de Jumièges is the ruin of former convent building. There has been a convent since the 654 AD, but the ruins date back to the 10th century when most buildings were constructed. The new convent was consecrated by the archbishop of Rouen and William the Conqueror also took part in the ceremony. The convent was left during the french revolution and the buildings were sold. Some of them were pulled down, but thanks a new sale in 1852, the ruins were saved. Today, it is open for public.
The most obvious building is the "Église Notre Dame", a church with 43 m high towers. Only the towers, the left wall and a small part of the choir remains. The Église St. Pierre, which is built next to thee "Église Note-Dame" and connected by a small passage called "Passage Charles VII" is almost completely destroyed. Anyway, both remain masterpieces of normannic gothic architecture.
Other buildings to name are the store room with windows in Gothique rannomant" style and two smaller buildings next to the passage Charvle VII. There is also a small, beautiful garden.
According to the web page, also a night visit is offered. Unofrtunately, it wasn't there in 1999, but the buildings must look even better by night.
The ancient history of Jumieges has led to some archeological explorations. The successes have been early remnants of the original Carolingian church and lost fragments of the existing ruins.
The façade of the abbey is very interesting and it constitutes a rare example of construction in projection among two towers, consequential architectural scheme from the Carolingian tradition.