The church, located on a site which has been occupied by man since the Gallo-Roman period, comprises a central tower belonging to the original Romanesque church, built around 1086-1090, a flat chevet choir dating from the early 12th century and a nave which originally boasted side aisles, unfortunately destroyed in the early 18th century. Its sculpted modillion and chequered decor is typical of Norman architecture.
A Romanesque sanctuary in the heart of the countryside
A church of Norman architecture
Built between the 11th and 12th century, the Church of St. Peter in Thaon is a typical example of Norman Romanesque architecture.
Other churches built during the same period, such as Notre-Dame Cathedral in Bayeux, were restructured over the centuries – this is not the case of the Church of St. Peter in Thaon.
Indeed, although initially built in Norman and Romanesque styles, the majority of places of worship at the time gradually evolved towards Gothic architecture. Each parish modified the overall architecture of its church by adding side aisles or naves.
As such, today, very few churches are truly representative of the Norman Romanesque architecture that was so appreciated by William the Conqueror.
The Church of St. Peter in Thaon is a fine and rare example, which earned the edifice its inscription as a Historic Monument as early as 1840.
The Church of St. Peter in Thaon over the centuries
Major work was conducted from 1729 to 1772 in order to improve light and to extend the church. A sacristy was created behind the choir.
However, from 1792 to 1796, during the Reign of Terror, the church was transformed into a saltpetre workshop. Nevertheless, it regained its use as a place of worship as from 1803 and until the construction of a new church in 1840.
The church was then closed, without for as much falling into neglect. Over the following centuries, archaeologists, antique dealers and art and architecture enthusiasts have regularly flocked to admire the building’s great beauty.
The project to restore the Church of St. Peter in Thaon
Restoration projects for the church were initiated in the late 19th century. In 1994, the spire was under threat of collapse and urgent repair was undertaken in order to preserve the church, thanks to support from the Association des Amis de la Vieille Eglise de Thaon.
A further restoration campaign was launched in 1998 by an archaeologist and anthropologist. Excavation work was conducted concurrent to restoration, rendering the project one of the most important campaigns on a still-standing edifice in France.
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Images of the site
1027 - Arlette’s fountain
1027 - William the conqueror’s castle
1046-1047 - Ryes, the ‘Sente au Batard’
1047 - The battle of Val-es-Dunes
1057 - Varaville
11th century - Dives-sur-Mer, the church of Notre Dame
1066 - The Ladies’ Abbey
1067 - Eglise Abbatiale
1077 - The Men’s Abbey
1060 - Caen Castle
1040-1050 - The Olivet Castle mound – Grimbosq
1077 - Bayeux Cathedral
1066 - Bayeux Tapestry
1083 - Church of Saint-Nicolas, Caen
11th century - Church of Saint-Laurent, Falaise
12th century - The Church of Saint-Martin, Ryes
11th century - Church of Saint-Pierre, Thaon
1180 - Church of Saint-Samson, Ouistreham
10th century - The Château Ganne in La Pommeraye