La Flamengrie Église de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge

What you need to know about this church

Église de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge La Flamengrie

Where to find this church

Church Information

Église de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge is located in La Flamengrie, a Commune Rural with 1.100 inhabitants about 12 km west of the town of Fourmies in the Département Aisne in the région Hauts-de-France.
It was first build between 1130-1150.

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La Flamengrie Église de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge
Church from the west
Defence tower

Visiting Église de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge

La Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge is one of the oldest fortified churches in the Thiérache: the parish of La Flamengrie was mentioned as early as 1126, and the building was constructed between 1130 and 1150. Unfortunately, the church is locked, so we did not have the opportunity to visit its interior.

Due to its border location in southern Hainaut at that time, the village was in the forefront of warlike conflicts. Thus, shortly after the beginning of the Hundred Years’ War in 1339, the village was destroyed by English troops after the Battle of Buironfosse, which had been agreed with the French king, had not taken place, and the English soldiers subsequently devastated the surrounding villages.

The church has a basilica plan with a six-bay nave and aisles and a semicircular apse. It was built of medium-sized ashlars, which were joined together in some places with rubble stones. The church retains its medieval chancel, semi-circular apse and high nave, lit by twelve small window openings in the upper storey and six wider ones in the lower storey.

Despite its robust exterior, the church’s defensive function is not immediately apparent. From the outside, it certainly has little in common with the churches in Plomion or Prisces, which have massive donjon ramparts. La Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge has only a small 15th-century defence tower attached to the left of the Gothic entrance portal on the east façade, pierced by various embrasures and crowned by an octagonal ridge turret.

On a plaque in the church is the inscription:
“Complete restoration/performed 1931-1932/ Alfred Bosseaux Mayor, Abbé Gernez Curé / Ch. Jamin Architect / E. Monti Entrepreneur”.

The chancel opens onto the nave through a semi-circular arch and is lit by a uniform window. The much lower semicircular head end opens to the chancel by a three-sided arch and is lit by round-arched windows; the axial window has recently been enlarged. The flat buttresses of this apse seem to indicate a Romanesque origin.

In the southern cloister is a famous 16th century wood-carved altarpiece.

Church from south-east