The church Notre-Dame of Gouttières

Gouttières is a former commune in Eure, Normandy. In 2019, they had 181 inhabitants. Gouttières and 15 other communes merged in 2016 and formed the new commune Mesnil-en-Ouche. The main religion in Eure is Roman Catholic. The church of Notre-Dame in Gouttières is a Roman Catholic church.

View of Gouttières
View of Gouttières. The church stands next to the manor house. Own photo, 2021.

Around 1060 William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford, Lord of Breteuil (1011-1071) – companion of William the Conqueror (1028-1087) – included the church of Notre-Dame of Gouttières in the founding charter of Lyre Abbey in La Vieille-Lyre (Eure). The first church of Gouttières is said to have been built on the other side of the valley, though.

The church that exists now, was built in the 12th century. Notre-Dame (‘Our Lady’) was a frequent name for churches in France in the 12th century. From its Romanesque origin, this church retains some remains in the apse and on the south wall.

The nave was rebuilt in the first half of the 16th century, a vast chapel was then attached to the south of the nave and an inscription attests that the choir was restored in 1575. The church was provided with a set of stained-glass windows, one of which shows the name of the donors and the date of its construction in 1559. All the churches in the region have been restored after the Council of Trent in 1545. These measures were part of the Counter-Reformation.

Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
From this angle we can only see the parts restored in the 16th century. The chequered stone symbolizes the people (dark) and the church (light). The people are safe in the church, is the message this stone pattern tries to convey to the people. The Reformation was growing stronger in the 16th century, and the church tried to fight the protestants by enhancing the Roman Catholic buildings. That was of course not the only result of the Council of Trent. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
In the front you see the chapel that was added to the church in the 16th century. The yellowish part of the wall to the left marks the connection of new and old parts of the nave. The small portion at the right is the oldest part of the church. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The 16th century chapel. Own photo, 2022.

This building consists of a nave, extended by a narrower choir, and a vast chapel acting as a transept arm to the south. An octagonal spire covered with slate is located at the entry side of the nave. The choir is the oldest part of the building and dates back to the 12th century. It is built in masonry of rubble stones of flint, limestone and grison (a grey bog iron found in wet plains in the natural region Perche) embedded in mortar. This grison is embedded in the oldest wall of the church, the small part to the right.

A part of the south wall of the nave, in coated rubble masonry, retains a few limestone keystones in the lower part of the wall, corresponding to an older window or door probably closed with a limestone frame in the 16th century. The south chapel is the most homogeneous part of the building. Its window to the east looks like the windows in the nave, but the southern window is bigger and built in the style Flamboyant (late Gothic architecture).

Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The mysterious “opening” in the south wall of the nave. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The oldest part of the church. There used to be some kind of door to the east. And a path lead to this church through the valley. Nowadays, there is forest and a hike path. Own photo, 2022.
Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The interior of the church. The small arc in the back of the choir has the original size of the church. The bigger parts were added in the 16th century. The church pews were made in the 19th century. They show their old weathercock in the pulpit, that is obsolete since the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965). Own photo. 2022.
Poutre de gloire à Gouttières
The rood beam was created in the 16th century. It shows a crucifix, John the Baptist and Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary and John are approximately 150 cm high, Jesus and his cross are about 200 cm high. The sculptures are made of painted wood. Own photo, 2022.
Autel de l'Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The wooden parts of the main altar were made of painted wood in the 17th century. The altar stone was created in the 16th century. The wooden statue to the right depicts Saint Prix (Praejectus, 600-676). The statue of Saint Prix was made in the 16th century. With the Counter-Reformation, pilgrimage was very fashionable. Pilgrims brought Saint Prix from Clermont-Ferrand in Auvergne (France). Clermont-Ferrand is about 480 km away from Gouttières. Today, the Via Arverna starts in Clermont-Ferrand. It’s one of the ways to walk the Way of St James. But I don’t know anything about the pilgrim’s ways in the 16th century. Saint Prix (under the name Saint Priest) is a local saint and martyr of Clermont-Ferrand. Legend has it that Saint Prix was defending the people from injustice committed by the powerful. And therefore he was assassinated. The painting is not the original one. It is a beautiful church, but has some cringeworthy paintings. I don’t know how this could happen. Own photo, 2022.
The priests
This stained-glass window is confusing. It was donated by the five men in clothes of canon regulars in 1559. The home of these men is depicted above them. But I don’t recognize any of the depicted places. Then there is the symbol of a flower, which looks like the white rose of York. There was a pilgrim’s way going from Canterbury to Rome. It was called the Via Francigena. I think the sculptures on the rood beam are from somewhere in Picardie or Champagne. Châlons-en-Champagne is one of the places of the Via Francigena. I have no idea what this means, apart from being five men in the dress of clergy in 1559. The inscription isn’t helping much: L’AN 1559 LE 20E JOUR DE FEVRIER CETTE… VITRE A ETE DONNEE… MESSIRE PIERRE LACOTTE POSTEL ME NICOLE POSTEL ET… TOUS… DE CETTE PAROISSE 1559: In the year 1559, on the 20th of February, this window was donated by Sir Pierre Lacotte Postel and Madame Nicole Postel (his wife?) and all the parish. Are the five men their sons? Are there five priests in the parish? Own mysterious photo, 2022.
Fonts baptismaux de l'Église Notre-Dame de Gouttières
Baptismal fonts made of sandstone in the 15th century. Own photo, 2022.
Mystical beasts eat the roof beams
In 2005 the woodwork of the ceiling was restored. Old paint (from the time of the French Revolution (?)) was removed and rotten wood replaced. Under the paint they found the old paint. The panelled vault made of oak staves with joint covers. The vault bears a hand painted decoration of ermine paws and fleur-de-lis (royal lilies), for which no stencil was used. The ermine paws symbolize the Holy Trinity. The beams under the roof are carved as engouled beams, that means they end in the muzzle of mystical creatures. This way the creatures eat our sins. Which is very practical. Engouled beams are very common in Brittany, but I have seen several churches with engouled beams in Eure as well. Own photo, 2022.
Plafond de la nef
And in the centre, the highest point of the vault, there is an ornamental strip. Own photo, 2022.
The seigneur
This stained-glass window was made in the 16th century. It shows probably the local seigneur (lord of the fief), who has donated the window. But that’s only a guess. The website of the French ministry of culture states that this depicts a saint. If it is a saint, it could be, for example, Pancras of Rome. We’ll never know. The window was restored by Jean-Baptiste Devisme in 1943. The head of the figure was redone by J.P.Tisserand in 1985, replacing a 19th century head. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
These graffiti were made in the 16th century and onward. I don’t know when this custom stopped, but the pilgrims don’t do this any more (as far as I know). Pilgrim’s graffiti in many countries in medieval times. This is probably not very interesting for most people, but it’s one of my favourite topics. These triangle (?) signs are numerous on the church in Gouttières. I’m sure somebody told me what this means. But I forgot. And the internet doesn’t seem to know it either. I bought a book about medieval graffiti, but I still don’t know what it means. Will have to put the book under my pillow. Time travel might be a good idea too. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
An L and a chalice? “The chalice from the palace has the brew that is true?” I bought an LED lamp and will take photos like that in future with raking light (a light source at a narrow angle that casts shadows into the lines and makes the texture of a surface better visible). Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
Looks like a cross and initials of a name. Carving into the walls of churches was not an act of vandalism. It was an act of prayer. People rubbed their fingers in the bigger holes to get dust. And this dust was blessed to them. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
A ship or boat. Travellers used to go up the river Risle by boat and then sometimes on ships to the sea. We can’t know why it was made. If it was a prayer to ask for a safe journey, or a prayer for loved ones lost at sea. Own photo, 2022.
Pilgrim's graffiti in Gouttières
Birds. Birds can have religious connotation (f.e dove as a symbol for the Holy Spirit), but somehow I don’t believe that this is meant here. The graffiti in Eure were made during pilgrimages. Every church had a pilgrimage and the pilgrims went around the churches. On their way around the church, they carved these graffiti. They were not bored choirboys nor acolytes. In some of our churches, we still have active pilgrimages. The people visit the church whenever they have time and not at a fixed time. Modern pilgrims leave small notes with their prayers inside the church instead of graffiti outside the church. I’m of course only guessing when I say, graffiti depicting birds are probably either prayers for luck at the hunt or for healthy chickens or pigeons. Every village in Eure had a castle or manor house, and the castle as well as the manor house had a pigeonry. In my opinion, the beliefs of the people were not very complicated. Own photo, 2022.
Procession banner of a religious brotherhood
This is a banner of the confrérie de la charité (brotherhood of charity) of Gouttières, now Mesnil-en-Ouche. It was carried during religious processions, meetings with other “charités” or during more elaborate funerals. I guess it was made in the 19th century.

I noticed now, that I never wrote a complete article about the Confrérie de charité. So let me quote myself:

The brotherhoods of charity were mainly responsible for (cheap) burials. That was before private undertakers were forced upon the population by law. That was not very nice of Napoleon I.

Members of the brotherhood used to carry or drag or half carry half drag the dead body out of the house. The corpse was fully dressed and there was straw in his pants to make them stiffer. The defunct was layed in the coffin in the church. The coffin was closed, a nice pall was put on the coffin and after some religious ceremonies the brotherhood carried the coffin out through the southern door of the church. This door was also called paradise-door because it led the soul into paradise. Very practical.

Side altar in the church Notre-Dame de Gouttières
The altar was made in the 17th century. The statues in the 16th and 17th century. The horrible painting is said to be from the 17th century. I don’t know. But it was created by a local painter. The religious banner was made in 1878. I bet it shows Saint Prix.

French sources for this article were: Eglise paroissiale Notre-Dame and other entries: Recherche Gouttières on POP : la plateforme ouverte du patrimoine, Eglise Notre-Dame on Observatoire du Patrimoine Religieux and Gouttières, Eglise Notre-Dame on la Sauvegarde de l’art Francais.

The book about medieval graffiti was written by Matthew Champion, it’s called “Medieval Graffiti” and has the ISBN 978-0-09-196041-4

History of the priory of Beaumont-le-Roger

The abbey in Bernay (Eure) was founded in 1013 by Judith of Brittany (982–1017), Duchess of Normandy and wife of Richard II (996-1026). She gave lots of land to that abbey, many villages.

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bernay
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bernay, own photo made in 2009.

One of the villages was Beaumont-le-Roger. At that time, Beaumont had the name of “Belmont” (beautiful mountain?). In 1030 Belmont was ceded to Onfroy († around 1050), seigneur (lord) of Pont-Audemer (Eure). Onfroy’s son, Roger (1015-1094) inherited the domain.

In 1048 Roger married Adeline de Meulan (1014/1023-1081). Chronology lacks detail, but sources show more and more often a presence of Roger and his family on the territory of Beaumont after 1050. In 1066 Roger made a first donation to a religious establishment on the site of Beaumont. Around this time Roger started to call himself Roger de Beaumont, instead of Roger, son of Onfroy. It is possible that he built a first motte-and-bailey castle and founded the church Saint-Nicolas, as well as fortified the town of Beaumont. But the sources are rather vague. The only reason to assume the existence of an earlier church than the Collegiate Church of the Trinity, is the donation Roger made in 1066.

Onfroy, Roger and his brother Robert were close to the Duke William the Conqueror (1028-1087), and Roger helped the Duchess Matilda of Flanders (1031-1083) in conducting the duchy during the conquest of England (1066-1070). The duke gave Roger land. Land that used to belong to Bernay abbey. Not only as a reward for his services, but also to create a protective fortress against the rebellious house of Tosny.

The 1077 marriage between Raoul II of Tosny (1027-1102), seigneur of Conches-en-Ouche (Eure) and Isabelle de Montfort-sur-Risle (1057-1102) allowed the Tosnys to become Châtelains of Nogent-le-Roi in Eure-et-Loir (until around 1200). The family possessions of the Tosnys thus stretched as far as the border of the duchy of Normandy. What I don’t understand about this, is that at least one of the Tosnys was with William the Conqueror in England and got land there as a reward.

Church of the priory of Beaumont-le-Roger
The collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity. That what’s left of it. Own photo made in 2015.

To mark his presence, Roger built a big fortified castle, and founded in 1070 a religious establishment: the collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity. That’s only 4 years on from his donation in 1066. And in my opinion it is possible, that somebody wrote 1070 instead of 1066 because 1070 is an even number. Roger built castle and church of course with the consent of the duke. Roger founded those buildings to show that he was the feudal lord, “seigneur”, of the place. The castle and the church were government institutions. The “castrum and collegiate” (build a castle and a church) is part of a strategy of administrative and military structuring set up by William the Conqueror and followed by his sons.

Stars over the abbey of Beaumont
The church under the stars. Own photo, made in 2015.
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The church Saint-Nicolas of Beaumont-le-Roger

Before the French Revolution there were 5 churches in Beaumont-le-Roger. Now there’s only one: Saint-Nicolas. It’s dedicated to Saint Nicholas.

In medieval times the church belonged first to the priory in Beaumont-le-Roger but later to the abbey of Le Bec-Hellouin.

The church was built in the 13th century. But there are only 3 columns left of that time. The three columns separate the nave from the southern side aisle. You see here the southern facade.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
It looks as if two different churches had been glued together.

The outer walls and the tower were built in the 15th century.

The choir and the northern side aisle were reconstructed in the 16th century.

The left part, the nave, was there before the right part, the choir. So maybe they just didn’t need to make the nave bigger. They used to work on the churches to make them bigger or because parts were on the brink of collapsing. Beaumont-le-Roger used to have 5 churches. I know three of them. The priory had a church and there’s a building on the other side of the town center that must have been a church. I just didn’t take photos there yet. With 5 churches the reason for alteration of a building might have been rather a bad state of the building and not the need for more space for all the believers. There are many churches in the region on which you can see the different states of the building during the centuries. After WWII they restored the building to the former state. That is what they claim. So I have to guess, that this is the former state. My guess² is that the style was different in the 16th century. The left part is gothic flamboyant in my opinion, while the choir on the right shows the influence of the renaissance style.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Looking up in the choir.

The portal on the west side was built in the 17th century.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The portal

During the French Revolution (1789-1799) the church became a public building. All bells except one were melt down and everything that was made of metal was taken away to “defend the Republic”. The church was used for Republican celebrations and to store grain on market days.

In 1802 the church was opened for Roman-Catholic Mass again.

Until 1902 there were small buildings around the church. They were then demolished and a wall was built around the church, as well as a staircase to access the church.

The church was damaged severely by bombs during WWII. Only the northern side and the bell tower stayed intact. Most of the interior was gone. The church was restored from 1951 to 1971 to its former state.

Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Southern aisle. The windows on this side are newer. This side has been destroyed in WWII.

There are several historic windows on the northern side.

Baie 16 Credo Apostolique 15e siècle
Window 16. This church window was made in the 15th century. It shows the Apostles’ Creed.
Baie 14 Résurrection de la fille de Jaïre, Résurrection de Lazare
Window 14. This church window was made in the 16th century. It shows the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the raising of Lazare. There’s a guy on the right who holds something that could be a musical instrument. Or he’s deaf and it’s a hearing aid and he wants to get cured by Jesus. There’s a medieval manuscript from the 12th century in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France) that shows King Arthur hunting while using an ear trumpet.
Baie 7 Noces de Cana, Miracle de Théophile
Window 7. This church window was made in 1550. It shows the wedding at Cana and the miracle of Theophilus of Adana.
Baie 9 la Passion
Window 9. This church window was made in 1557. It shows the Passion of Jesus.
Baie 11: Entrée du Christ à Jérusalem
Fenster 11. This window was made in 1553. It shows the Entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
Baie 15: Décollation de saint Christophe (baie 15)
Window 15. This is a bit more complicated and also made in the 16th century. On the upper field Saint Christopher is baptised. On the lower right field Saint Christopher carries Jesus over the river and on the lower left Saint Christopher gets beheaded. “Décollation” is derived from latin: collum (neck) and means cutting the neck, just like “beheading”. Makes you wonder why there are so many words for things like that. On Flickr we had a little digression over the topic of Saint-Christopher. In the art of the Eastern Orthodox church he’s often shown with the head of a dog when he carries Jesus. Legend has it, that he became human because he was carrying Jesus. That’s of course very odd, since dog people have never existed. Historians seem to fight about the reason for this. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was really a translation error because somebody read “Cananeus” (Canaanite) as “caninus” (translation is always difficult and weird errors occur all the time, think of Chinese instruction manuals). But we’ll never know. The other historians, that don’t think it’s a bad translation, think it’s a reference to Anubis. I think it’s a bit far fetched, really. Originally it was Osiris who was protected by Anubis and Osiris was no child. Anubis brings the deceased to the water, but he doesn’t carry them over the water. Horus was a child but he didn’t die. There is of course a resemblance between the relationship of Mary and Jesus and Isis and Horus. Anubis had a brother by name of Upuaut, who was also a dog-headed god (jackal). He is actually a more likely candidate for Saint Christopher, since he was “the opener of ways” which could be interpreted as travelling. And he was often depicted standing in the skiff of the dead. Charon was never depicted with a dog’s head. You see .. I could go on and on.
Aigle-lutrin d'église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
In the choir. The eagle lectern was made in the 18th-century.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Southern side altar in mono.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The main altar in mono.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The baptismal font.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
View of the nave.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The organ.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
This looks like one of the older columns.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Ceiling of a side aisle.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
One of the new old gargoyles.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
I love gargoyles and just look at that little angel to the left.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Big mouth strikes again.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
Horloge d'édifice : Regulus dit jacquemart
Meet Regulus, a Roman centurion made in 1825. He is supposed to bang on the bells with the things he holds in his hand. But I never saw it happen.

The church is open during the day. And a lot of people visit it, to pray, light candles or play the organ or listen to the organist.

Candles in the church of Beaumont-le-Roger
Candles in Saint-Nicolas.
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The church seen from a car park in the middle of the town. A lot of those houses look interesting.
Decoration
Decoration on the facade at the eastern side.
Gargoyles on the church Saint-Nicolas of Beaumont
The new old facade with a line of gargoyles.

I will add new photos below.

Gargoyle on the church Saint-Nicolas in Beaumont-le-Roger
My parents in law visited us this September (2022) and they stayed in a gîte (holiday accommodation) opposite to the church. I was able to take some shots out of their windows on the first and second floor. Look at that ape to the left of the gargoyle.
Gargoyle on the church Saint-Nicolas in Beaumont-le-Roger
Gargoyles on the church Saint-Nicolas in Beaumont-le-Roger
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The line of gargoyles at the facade and the church place (place de l’église).
Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The entrance door.
Clocher de l'Église Saint-Nicolas de Beaumont-le-Roger
The bell tower.

I just did some research and found this old postcard, taken before WWII and there the styles are also different, but the choir doesn’t look as big as it looks now.

And I found only one image online, to show the damages after WWII. The whole southern facade was gone.

All the photographs are of course made by me. Why the heck do I write in English? I comment my photographs on Flickr in English. I’m lazy. It’s far easier to copy my own “outpourings” than to write new ones.

The rebus of Saint-Grégoire-du-Vièvre

Deutsche Version: hier.
Saint-Grégoire-du-Vièvre is a village with 342 inhabitants. It lies a bit north of here, right behind Saint-Victor-d’Épine. (The author waves with her arm in the direction of the colza fields.) I never took photos there, shame on me. If I ever get a car again, I’ll drive there and take photos for sure. The village is best known for a 16th century rebus designed with dark flint stone on the southern façade of the church Saint-Grégoire (Pope Gregory I.).

Edit: in the meantime, I drove with one of my villagers (who complained about the pictures in this article) to Saint-Grégoire-du-Vièvre, and we took photos.

The 16th century rebus. Own photo on Wikimedia Commons, licence: CC0 / Creative Commons public domain dedication

Generations of historians and other crazy folks have tried to decipher the rebus. The solution is something like “le monde est corrompu et faux sal” (French, since it’s in France), which means ‘the world is corrupt and deceptive sal’. No idea about “sal”. I’d say it’s the name or the initials of the author.

Arthur Join-Lambert (1839–1917) explains the rebus in the above-mentioned book as follows. “Le” (‘the’) is written in normal letters. Then follows a globus cruciger that stands for the world or for the Christian world. Then follows the word “est” (‘is’) in normal letters and a bugle (“cor”) that is interrupted or broken in the middle. “Cor” inter “rupt”.

Grave of Arthur Join-Lambert on the cemetery of Livet-sur-Authou. That’s a bit northeast of here, over a hill in a valley. (The author waves her left arm in the direction of the colza fields.) He was one of the locals. A local in a castle, but still a local. Own photo on Wikimedia Commons, licence: CC0/ Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain

Join-Lambert claims that the 16 black and white fields represent the 16th century. ‘The Christian world in the 16th century is corrupt and deceptive, sal.’ That would refer to the French Wars of Religion (1562–1598). Strange but true, the little village of Saint-Grégoire-du-Vièvre was owned by the kings of France from the 14th to the 16th century. The last king who directly owned the village was the Huguenot Henry IV of France (1553–1610). He was involved in the wars.

Bigger towns in the vicinity, like Bernay and Pont-Audemer, were attacked in 1590, either by the Catholics or by the Huguenots. (The result is the same, the troops plunder and the inhabitants die.)

The rebus and the knight who chases his horse. Photo: Gallica. Licence: public domain

The 16 fields are followed by the word “et” (‘and’) and a very well-designed scythe. The French word for scythe is “faux”. “Faux” is a homonym, it means scythe or wrong (deceptive). And “faux” is one of those words that sound like hundreds of other French words. I don’t understand how French people get along. Okay, I am exaggerating a bit. Only a bit. Join-Lambert thought, that it probably means something that sounds alike but is different. For example “faut” 3rd person singular of “falloir”, ‘having to do something’, ‘needing’. At this point, I started to worry about Join-Lambert’s mental health. ‘The Christian world in the 16th century is corrupt and (one) has to sal.’? That makes no sense. He must have been drinking laudanum. He continues: “sal” means Israel, the missing letters have been miraculously incorporated in the “A”. Or somewhere else. Enough is enough. No, Join-Lambert, you’re wrong. And it’s not a Freemason inscription, either. Early Freemasons existed in England, that’s right, but they wouldn’t have made French rebuses.

The knight follows his horse. Own photo on Wikimedia Commons, licence: CC0/ Creative Commons public domain dedication

According to Fulcanelli, the ensemble of flint stone figures on the whole church had alchemist denotation. He starts with the knight who is running after his horse. Horses are fountains in alchemy and the knight is ‘Hermes Trismegistus unveiled’, the inscription is the ‘triumph of Hermes’ and an attack of wolves is the battle of two natures. That would be impressive… if it wasn’t boring.

Attack by wolves, own photo on Wikimedia Commons, licence: CC0/ Creative commons public domain dedication

In medieval times, Vièvre was a forest that covered the area from Saint-Étienne-l’Allier to the river Risle. It had a surface of approximately 50 km² (19.31 square miles, 5000 hectares). The forest was full of wild animals, bears, wild boars and wolves. It is far more likely that the artistic mason used the walls of the church as some kind of newspaper, a narrative of events. Something like: King Henry fell off his horse. Wolves attacked villagers or their livestock. Living in times of religious war is no fun.

If you got other possible explanations, please feel free to tell us about it.

The attack of wolves and a lot more of the church wall. Photo: Gallica. Licence: public domain

Further Reading

Arthur Join-Lambert, Jean De Witte, François Lenormant, Robert de Lasteyrie : Les Inscriptions (Rébus et Énigmes) de l’Église de Saint-Grégoire-du-Vièvre in Gazette archéologique : recueil de monuments pour servir à la connaissance et à l’histoire de l’art antique. Vol. 13, published by A. Levy in Paris in 1888 p. 233–244, ISSN=20224788 (French)

l’église de saint Grégoire-du-Vièvre in Epistola, published on 2004-10-4 (French). Website doesn’t exist any more.

Bernard Bodinier: L’Eure de la Préhistoire à nos jours. Published by Jean-Michel Bordessoules in Saint-Jean-d’Angély in 2001, p.212 ISBN=2-913471-28-5 (French)

le mystère de Saint Grégoire. In Normandie Zoom (French)