This weekend sees the annual Journées Européennes du Patrimoine and on one of our recent bike rides, Chris and I saw a notice up outside the old church in nearby Bussière St Georges saying that it would be open to the public both days. Well, we’ve lived here seven years and never seen inside this impressive building as it’s very rarely open, so this was too good an opportunity to miss.
So we’ve just been for our visit. The persistent rain meant we had to resort to the car to get there rather than go by pedal power, but at least it meant that Ruadhri was a happy participant in the outing. He can get a little grumpy when asked to cycle places!
Bussière’s church dates back to the 12th century but most of it was added in the 19th century. A new altar was installed at some point – I didn’t catch which date unfortunately – and since this was much bigger than the original stone altar, which it now encases, the old windows were bricked up.
The original doorway was reduced in size at the same time and a new one added. Just inside it is the sixteenth century font.
Whilst we were inspecting the exterior, the guide pointed out the altitude marker and told us that many monuments have one of these on them. Apparently there’s one on Nouzerines’ church, so we’ll have to go and find that. The one at Bussière St Georges reads 441 metres.
There’s a reliquary on the altar with small assorted dried morsels of St Gervais in it. There were several other reliquaries and Rors was quite intrigued to learn about the old habit of collecting bits of saints!
At the ‘new’ end of the church is this rather beautiful round window.
It was one of the side chapels that caught my eye the most. It’s part of the old church and houses this lovely statue of the pieta.
This was made by local people at the time and because they were poor, it’s made from earth and straw. You can see this is in a few places where the paint has worn away.
The guide drew our attention to the way the Madonna’s eyes follow you around as you move in the chapel. And they really do!
The wall painting was lovely in this part of the church. However, the most dramatic is the wonderful cross against the blue sky above the altar.
Many of the old vestments were on display, each one testament to the many, many hours of hard work the local ladies put in, either embroidering them beautifully – one with gold thread – or making the lace for them. Exquisite.
I’m a local history nut so I thoroughly enjoyed this mini expedition and I’ll be sure to visit this beautiful old church again on one of its rare openings. I’m thrilled that we have at last seen this hidden treasure, a real thing of beauty tucked away in a very quiet corner of Creuse.