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Hidden heritage in Normandy

We are particularly fond of this vintage postcard as it is the only one we have every seen with a snowy Normandy scene. It is a picture of  Chapelle Saint-Vincent in Launay, probably on a Christmas Eve many years ago.

Chapelle Saint Vincent Normandy - Match!
Chapelle Saint Vincent, Launay,  Normandy – Match!

Somehow we tracked the chapel down to Launay, near Ernemont-la-Villette, down Rue la Chapelle. Of course. Except it wasn’t obvious at all.

The handy road name was not on any of our maps and the chapel sits in the only bit of Launay, not in Launay.  There are no signs to this little bit of heritage in the surrounding roads and not even a name outside to let you know you are in the right place.

We are extremely grateful to some charming locals who pointed us in the right direction.

Chapelle Saint Vincent Normandy brickwork and timber frame
Chapelle Saint Vincent, Normandy, brickwork and timber frame

The chapel is unusual for having wood frame in a region of solid stone ecclesiastical architecture, but any concerns over it’s structural vulnerability are unnecessary, it has stood here since the 18th century and is now carefully protected by the Observatoire du Patrimoine religieux, the OPR, a non denominational organisation that works to save France’s religious heritage. Chapelle Saint Vincent’s future is safe.  Probably.

Chapelle Saint Vincent Normandy
Chapelle Saint Vincent Normandy

All you need for a chapel

On the day we visited the chapel was locked. Weeds growing around the door suggested no-one had been inside for many months. So we peered through dusty windows and saw simple pews, a cross, an ancient stone font and in one corner a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Wiki says a funeral litter of the Bouracher family is inside, adorned with the sky blue family coat of arms of a silver cross and five ermine speckles.

The Bouracher family owned a local manor from around 1470, upgraded to a castle in the 17th century then in the early 18th century Louis François Le Bourracher Lord of Launay, had the castle rebuilt again when he became a father in 1754.  He was not to know his son would die just 30 years later, the last in his line.

A once grand family now rarely spoken of, the privacy of their darkest ceremonial accoutrements at Chapelle Saint Vincent, are assured.

Chapelle Saint Vincent Normandy dusty interior

Chapelle Saint Vincent, Normandy, dusty interior


Chapelle Saint Vincent Launay, Normandy
Chapelle Saint Vincent Launay, Normandy

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