Things that get embedded in walls

The college of St Nicolas des Courtils, was founded in the early fourteenth century in Bayeux, Normandy, for four then eight canons. It was called ‘Courtils’ as being surrounded by gardens, and lay near the present-day Place de Gaulle with a cemetery that partly occupied the area where the statue of Alain Chartier currently stands. The college fell victim to the dechristianisation of France following the Revolution, and ceased to exist in 1794.

The buildings and site were sold to a local tradesman who demolished most of the structures and built a house in their place. The garden of this house covers the area once occupied by the church nave and part of the cemetery. Other houses were also built on the land. They lie along the present-day Rue Général de Daïs near Place de Gaulle.

Of the collegiate buildings, the north transept remains – astonishingly so, even if semi-derelict. It can be found behind these same houses at the end of a small lane that follows the line of the former church nave for part of its way. Also visible are two items built into the external structure of one of the flanking houses, clearly taken from the demolished church. As it happens, this house is currently for sale – one of the few remaining along this street that has not now been renovated to within an inch of its life. What other treasures lie within? and beneath?

The pictures here are of the transept, and the two plundered architectural/art historical features. The relief sculpture was probably taken from an altar carving and, as with the Reformation in England, so with the Wars of Religion in sixteenth-century France: the faces of the figures are defaced and destroyed. And the carved capitals on the small window above no. 39 are in the same style as arcading on a massive scale within Bayeux Cathedral as well as, as can be seen, the window capitals of the derelict transept.