A Romanesque priory devoted to art and music
in La Sarthe, between Alençon and Le Mans

Dangeul, Sarthe Pays de la Loire FR
Cultural and artistic experiences in situ, Pays de la Loire


Visit the «Activities» page on www.mayanne.fr

Music festival

Visit the «Activities» page on www.mayanne.fr

Guided tour of the property

Guided visit with the owner of the properties. Groups and individuals from July 1 to August 25 and all year if reserved in advance. Tel: 02 43 97 44 43. Allow between one and half to two hours for the visit. Visit the «Activities» page on www.mayanne.fr for more information.

Les journées européennes du patrimoine

du 15-09-2018 au 16-09-2018

Property owners’ take the floor

Why did you settle in this region, in this place and not elsewhere ?

This property embodied a childhood dream. The dream of a young German from Westphalia who, whilst studying at the Sorbonne, would flick through Le Figaro real estate listings in search of houses or villages to restore. Having seen the ruins that the Second World War left behind, I wanted to buy an authentic place with real stones that had been standing for centuries! After our wedding, my French wife and I went in search of a place that would serve as an anchor for our family and mark a form of alliance between our nations. After years of unsuccessful searching that left us looking at places that were not right for us, we discovered this site in 1972 along with the monuments that had been abandoned for agriculture. Struck by the rich architecture and the obvious Romanesque origins, we decided to revive the authenticity and raise our three children in this framework of peace, spirituality and rare beauty.

What can you offer people staying with you ?

We lead guided tours around the property ourselves. We also host concerts on six different Sunday afternoons during the summer as part of an annual festival of chamber music and jazz. We also organise a wide variety of art exhibitions.

What specific architectural features does your building have ?

It is an exceptional medieval ensemble that was originally a seigniorial domain. In the 11th century it became an outbuilding to a Benedictine abbey. Today it has three major monuments. The first is the chapel (classified as a historical monument) which dates back to the second half of the 11th century. It has retained its original medieval walls, they have been repaired as needed over the centuries with the utmost for respect for their sacred vocation. Its numerical symbolism was revealed by the discovery of the central point of the director circle which presided over the elevation of the hemicycle, the orientation of the apse, as well as the dimensions of the nave and the triumphal arch. A very rare "opus spicatum" can be admired in the apse, an apparatus with a herringbone pattern in brick from the 11th century. We also found the remains of 16th century frescoes. The second building is an "Aula", a former "Grand'Salle" which is also classified as a historical monument. It has three levels including two rooms with 'golden ratio' proportions. Based on the solstices of Saint John and Christmas, it is oriented west to Mont Saint-Michel and east to the Holy Land. In the ground floor room, three pillars bearing four ancient Plantagenet arcades support the 'upper room'. Cardinal Philippe de Luxembourg, abbot of the time and lord of Mayanne, had the original cradle-shaped ceiling replaced with a boat skull-shaped frame at the beginning of the 16th century. The third building, dating from 1450, is a former tithe barn with unusual architecture: it is a logis-hall that rests on ten oak posts and houses a three-floor seigniorial lodging, a central hall and an ancillary part. Along with these three monuments that served the three functions of the priory - religious, seigniorial and economic - stands another seigniorial dwelling: the abbey room attached to the chapel dates back to the 16th century. Two ovens from the 16th century (one for bread and the other for hemp), 18th and 19th century communal areas and three wells complete this ensemble of strictly symbolic dimensions and orientations. The park has three springs running through it and various plots, one is dedicated to topiary for example and another serves as the chapel garden.

Places you would personally recommend

Heritage and culture fanatics are spoiled for choice between the small medieval churches of the Saosnois, the Dungeon of Ballon, the "porte du Maine","La ferme aux histoires" with Nadia Gypteau and Henri Boillot, the Alpes Mancelles, the picturesque village of Saint-Cénerie, the Perseigne forest, the hemp, clog and bicycle museums, and the ruins of an old Cistercian abbey where the abbot of Rancid retired to do his novitiate. For foodies, we would recommend La Croix-Margot or the Hotel de la Barque in Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, the Guibert Etangs in Perseigne forest, Le Parvis Saint-Hilaire, a bio-gastronomic restaurant in Mans located near the Great Poterne of the Gallo-Roman wall, and finally Chez Pedro in the center of Alençon, an authentic tea room, with a pastry chef and chocolatier.

What is its history ?

In the second half of the 11th century, it was the seigniory of an allodial land. Hugues d'Asnières, viscount of Maine, built a chapel here. The place became a vast monastic seigniory when this chapel was donated to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Vincent du Mans and thus endowed with papal protection and the associated seigniorial rights. Until it was confiscated by the Revolutionary State in 1972 and sold as national property, the monks had carefully held onto the chapel despite having previously suffered from the effects of the Hundred Years War and the Huguenot ravages of the Saosnois during the second half of the 16th century. The buildings were abandoned for nearly two centuries whilst the site was used for agriculture. We began restoring them in 1972 and reconfigured the estate by bringing together two farms which had been separate since 1850. The group of buildings was classified as a historical monument at the end of 2013.

Our opinion

The Prieuré de Mayenne is not just a stunning example of a set of buildings restored to their former glory after years of abandon in the Saoisnois grove. It is a property whose soul has been brought back to life thanks to the owners who devoted themselves to saving it. The secular walls of this Benedictine hamlet, sober and orderly topped with time-weathered tiles, are now home to the arts and a new found spirit of meditation.

More information

Ref 687328

Open from 1st January to 31st December


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