Englancourt Église Saint-Nicolas

What you need to know about this church

Église Saint-Nicolas Englancourt

Where to find this church

Church Information

Église Saint-Nicolas is located in Englancourt, a commune with 120 inhabitants about 15 km east of the town of Guise in the Département Aisne in the région Hauts-de-France.

This church is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm

This church was listed as a historical monument in 1995

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Englancourt Église Saint-Nicolas
Path to the church

Visiting Église Saint-Nicolas

The church of Saint-Nicolas in Englancourt is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful fortified churches of the Thiérache, both in terms of its location, external appearance and interior decoration. It overlooks the valley of the Oise, and there is a beautiful view of the fortified church of Saint-Algis on the other side of the valley.

Saint-Nicolas has a peculiarity that it shares only with its neighbours Lavaqueresse, Malzy and Esquéhéries: Its huge, 26-metre-high fortified keep is not located above the western entrance door, but was built to the east above the choir, so that it forms both the defensive fortress and the head of the church.

The original church was built in the 14th century; this part is still recognisable today by the area not built in bricks, namely the thick sandstone walls and buttresses of the north and south façades. Fortification then took place almost three centuries later from 1580, a few decades before the construction of the two bartizans on the west façade at the beginning of the 16th century. Further alterations took place around 1680, as evidenced by contracts with local craftsmen, but by this time Saint-Nicolas had essentially found its final appearance.

The church has another peculiarity, so striking that you don’t even notice it: it has no bell tower. Instead, its builders were not stingy with the size of the corner towers on the keep, which are occupied by five storeys. A large sanctuary (50 square metres!) is located on one of these levels, accessible only by a narrow staircase built into the thick wall behind the altar.

The defensive function of Saint-Nicolas is confirmed by some 50 manholes in the towers and the walls of the nave. However, its height, its location on the top of a hill and above the village also make it clear that it had a surveillance function.

Like a sentinel over the Oise valley, the church of Englancourt could see danger coming from afar. This was undoubtedly the case on that day in 1650 when the Spanish attacked the nearby castle of La Plesnoye, where the local lord of the manor, Charles de la Fons, lived. His wife, Reine de Bongard, has her epitaph on an exterior slab of the church.

For many visitors, the main sight inside – which we find particularly beautiful because of the partly unplastered natural stone walls – is an inconspicuous statue of the Virgin Mary: in 1955, she is said to have winked at three children from the village. Since then, many pilgrims have come here to seek help.

Even if she doesn’t wink at you during your visit: a visit to this extraordinary church is still worthwhile!

Statue of Mary

Update autumn 2023: the church is currently being renovated, and is therefore locked. See last photos of the slideshow