Wimy Église Saint-Martin

What you need to know about this church

Église Saint-Martin Wimy

Where to find this church

Church Information

Église Saint-Martin is located in Wimy, a small commune rurale with 500 inhabitants, about 6 km west of the town of Hirson in the Département Aisne in the région Hauts-de-France.

The church is open daily from 9 am

This church was listed as a historical monument in 1989

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Wimy Église Saint-Martin
Towers from south-west
Wimy Église Saint-Martin

Visiting Église Saint-Martin

The church of Saint-Martin in Wimy is a special church for us, as it is the first of the Thiérache fortified churches that we have visited.

But it is also one of the special fortified churches of the region in other respects: the keep is one of the largest with a height of about 20 metres, and the two flanking towers – landmarks of Saint-Martin – are particularly impressive. With a diameter of 5 metres at man-height and 3.50 inside, they are truly immense.

Originally, Saint-Martin was just a “normal” Romanesque church until it was fortified from May 1578 to October 1585 by a “Meunier Georges, Albert”. This is known for certain in this case, as the name and dates are engraved on a stone in the south tower.

While the nave and choir are made of sandstone, the fortifications were built of the typical red brick of the region. Saint-Martin is therefore nicknamed “the red fort”.

The nave and choir are of little architectural interest, both from the outside and inside; the fortifications are all the more impressive for that. Incidentally, the main portal – which was only rebuilt in a “modern” way in 1872 and does not necessarily beautify the church – is closed; one enters the church via a small door in the north-west wall of the nave.

What is a great pity: towers and keep are not open to the public. However, there is information hanging on a pillar of the nave with photos of the fortifications, so you at least get a good idea of them.

In the actual entrance hall of the keep, there are still two fireplaces on the ground floor, on the north and south walls respective. These are also said to be the largest in the Thiérache. The two entrances to the attached towers branch off from here.

In the south tower is the staircase leading to the upper storey of the donjon keep. This served as an escape room, and with an edge length of 8 metres is also one of the largest escape rooms in the region. The room still houses an old stove and two hollows, the purpose of which is unclear. Some intermediate floors have disappeared.

In the north tower, you can still see – separated by a pane of glass – the old well, which served as a supply in case of a siege, as well as the old mechanism of the tower clock, which was still in operation until 1964.

Both towers are littered with embrasures, which still emphasises the defensive character of the complex today.

View into the north tower
Staircase in the south tower