HISTORY OF LIGLET
Liglet is a tiny commune of around 300 people, traversed by the River Benaize and lying right on the southern edge of the La Brenne National Park. Its economic history was largely based on minerals, such as brickwork, lime kilns and iron ore extraction. As a result of these activities, a bridge over the Benaize was built in 1861.
There are several indications of very early settlements here, such as Gallic sculptures, the traces of a Gallo-Roman villa and Celtic wells. It is likely that there was a thriving community here many centuries ago.
THE CHURCH OF SAINT HILAIRE AND SAINT MARGUERITE
The village of Liglet, which was actually called Lilec in 1093, is centred on its church, which is dedicated to St Hilaire and St Marguerite.
The flat chevet and the nave date back to the XIth century, according to writings of 1093.
In 1102 the church was given to the Abbey of Saint Savin by the Bishop of Poitiers.
The south facing Romanesque door was walled up in the XVth century and replaced by a Renaissance moulded door.
Its lintel is actually a stone tombstone engraved with a sword. Its Romanesque font is one of the oldest in the Vienne.
Near the village stands a fortified house and this tells us Liglet was situated on the very border of English-controlled Poitou and French Berry during the Hundred Years’ War. Catherine de Lespinasse, Lady of Bélâbre, gave permission in 1434 for the inhabitants of Liglet to fortify the church to protect it from the armed bands who were pillaging the land. Letters from Charles VII substantiate this. During the raids, the population sought refuge in the church while the soldiers took up position in the “strong house” two metres in front of it.
A door, which is walled up today, allowed for communication between the two buildings.Along the River Benaize you can find numerous castles, mansions and defensive strongholds, as befits an area right on the border of Poitou and Berry. Examples of this are Courtevrault, Peucot and Corcheron. Even the tiny village of Liglet boats a tower stronghold from those times.
In 1919 a Tree of Victory was planted to celebrate the Republic’s victory in the First World War. In 1946 a Tree of Liberty (an acacia) was planted to celebrate liberation. The Tree of Victory from 1919 was replaced in 1968.
ABBEY OF FONTMORON
During the XIIth century, the Lord of La Trémouille donated some of his land to Pierre de l’Etoile, the founder of Fontgombault, for the purpose of establishing a priory.
The priory was fortified in the XIIth century. In 1782 it acquired a stone statue that became the object of an annual pilgrimage until 1952 when shepherds would come to beg the saint to protection of their sheep.
They would bring wool, offer a candle to Saint Antoine and walk down to fountain nearby. Georges Sand came here on retreat.
CHAPEL OF MARCILLY
The Priory of Saint Marguerite of Marcilly comes under the jurisdiction of Saint Savin abbey. It was founded in 1093. The present-day chapel is in the Romanesque style.
It was completely renovated in 2005/2006 and its garden was also recreated at the same time.
JOURNET – LANTERN OF THE DEAD
This intriguing classified historic monument was originally situated in the old cemetery.
Today the Lantern of the Dead from the XIIth century takes pride of place in the centre of the village of Journet.
An open door in the base of the column and notches on the inside give access to the lantern tower so that a flame can be lit on celebratory occasions.
Opposite the lantern you can find the portal of the old priory.
HISTORY OF LA TRIMOUILLE
La Trimouille is the nearest town to Liglet, lying to the south. Between 1963 and 2006 the main employer in the town was Aubade, employing 50 people. Nowadays the largest employer is the cabinet maker with a workforce of three!
The geographical location of La Trimouille is quite unique. For historical reasons it belongs to Poitou, even though it shows numerous similarities in both architecture and customs with Berry.
THE OLD CASTLE BY THE RIVER
The name of the town derives from that of one of the greatest families in French history. The first Duke of La Trémoille, Pierre, was born in 1040 in a castle of which only the mound survives. From its very beginnings this family, which was a major landowner, made regular and generous donations to neighbouring religious institutions, such as the Priory of Villesalem in Journet or the Maison-Dieu in Montmorillon.
According to the archives of 1484 it seems that the castle had already been destroyed a long time ago. You can still make out the site of the mound today.
La Trimouille was once surrounded by fortifications and ditches in medieval times and the ruins of these defences served to delineate the town from the surrounding hamlets.
Traces from this period can still be found in the tower with its twin gunboats.
MORE RECENT HISTORY
In the XVIIth century the town of La Trimouille lay to the west of the castle, while the hamlets of Saint-Jean and Gersant lay to the north and south respectively.
Water from the River Benaize supplied several windmills.
There is a convent of St Clare nuns (founded in 1642) in the town.
During the Second World War the local section of the French Legion, a unique association of Vichy veterans, was the third largest in the Vienne Département with 147 members.
In 1848 two Trees of Liberty were planted to commemorate the February Revolution when France returned to being a republic. One is in the church square and one is in the village green.
CHOIR OF LA TRIMOUILLE
The “Lyre Trimouillaise” was founded in 1906 and began as a very simple band with drums and bugles. It wasn’t until the early 1990s that it was renamed the “Lyre de La Trimouille” and started to incorporate other instruments and increase its repertoire!
THE ORIGINAL CHURCH OF SAINT PIERRE
The original church of this village no longer serves as such. It is situated beside a more modern castle about 1.5 kilometres from the heart of La Trimouille on the other side of the river. The frescoes that can still be seen inside the church are similar in style to those of Saint Savin and suggest a date of construction of around 1160-1180.
Two patron saints can be identified: Saint Ragonde, a great Poitevin saint and Saint Valérie, the first Limousine martyr. It is a Romanesque church but was deconsecrated after the Revolution. It was sold to private owners in 1794 and has served ever since as an agricultural building.
THE "MODERN" CHURCH OF SAINT PIERRE
The current Church of Saint Pierre was constructed between 1843 and 1846. The choir is vaulted in a cul-de-four style. It has five large arched windows. The lower part of the inner walls are panelled in oak and in fact the wood for this was delivered by refugees from Alsace Lorraine at the end of World War II in gratitude for the warm welcome that the inhabitants of La Trimouille had shown them.
A particularly interesting feature of the church is its font. This dates back to Gallo-Roman or High Middle Ages and would have been a grinding stone for millet. When the cultivation of millet ceased, it would have been re-crafted into a baptismal font.
The upper part is octagonal, a visual reference to early Christian times when the number 8 was a symbol of resurrection and eternal life.
A groove was cut into the stone so that a wooden cover could be placed on it to keep the water clean.
The font takes pride of place in the porch and still serves as the baptismal font.
The church also contains a sarcophagus of the late XIVth or early XVth century.
It also has a statue of the Virgin Mary and Child dating back to the XVIIth century.
GUIDED TOUR AROUND THE HISTORICAL SITES OF INTEREST
The Tourist Office in la Trimouille offers a guided tour around the local area in a 50km circuit, taking in the most important and interesting historical landmarks.
- Leave the Tourist Office in La Trimouille and cross the bridge over the River Benaize. Take the right fork in the direction of St Pierre. When you reach St. Pierre stop at the little market square to discover the former church of La Trimouille dating from the XIth century.
- Then drive in the direction of Tilly. In 9.5km, just after the crossroads, you will find the Logis de la Brosse. This is an old XVth century manor house. Two round towers on either side of the central building retain battlements and the gatehouse is still intact.
- Retrace your steps and take the D10 to your left in the direction of Thollet. Names such as Camp-de-César and La Fortilesse hint that there were many fortresses here through the centuries. The priory occupied an elevated position to protect the ford. The XIth century church with its leaning bell tower and sundial must not be missed.
- Then take the D10 to the left towards Coulonges for your next stop. This is the most easterly commune of the Vienne, bordering on Poitou, Berry and Limousin. The Chateau du Pin and the fortified site of Bagneau should be seen, as should the XIIth century church.
- Take the D124 towards Brigueil for your next stop. Brigueil occupies a position between two arms of the River Asse. The Church of St Hilaire was built in the XIIth century within the walls of the old fortress. Take the little road down to the river to see the hamlet of Pierrat des Vaux with a fantastic viewpoint back to the village.
- Retrace your route to cross the ford and visit the Chateau de Mareuil. This ancient stronghold was described as a “hostel and strong house” in 1494. It dominates the Asse valley and was built in the Middle Ages to protect the boundary position of Brigueil.
- Turn left at the crosroads towards Bourg-Archambault to view the magnificent castle, built in 1244. The present fortress was reconstructed in 1478 on the orders of the Poncet de Rivière, Chamberlain to Louis XI. Moat, drawbridge, portcullis and archers’ slits made this a remarkable fortress.
- The final stop is Saint-Léomer on the way back to La Trimouille. Occupied since the Middle Ages, Saint-Léomer has 40 houses built around the priory. The XIIth century church has not undergone a single modification since construction, apart from the bell tower. On the right you can see the XIIth century priory and its beautiful studded door.
- If time, drive to the Site de Masamas, a Gallo-Roman settlement from the first century BC. A wall, an east facing propylaeum, twin temples in the vestibule and a small inner chamber. Deeper excavations have revealed the base of a Gallic sanctuary from the second half of the first century BC.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE TOURIST OFFICE OF LA TRIMOUILLE.
THIS SITE IS AN INVALUABLE SOURCE OF FURTHER INFORMATION AND WELL WORTH A VISIT, IF YOU ARE PLANNING A TRIP TO THE AREA IT IS ESSENTIAL TO CONSULT THIS WEALTH OF INFORMATION