Travelogue, Northern France. History, Norman Conquest, Britains relationship with Medieval Normandy.

Church of St Gervais Falaise

Despite its historical significance, Falaise is not that large and has a population of around 8500. What it does have is the Church of Saint Gervais in the town centre, originally Romanesque it was completed in 1124 and modified in the 13th, 15th and 16th Centuries, including some impressive leering Gothic gargoyles.

Medieval Gothic architecture came hot on the heels of Romanesque and went through various stages as the builders became more skilled. In basic terms it started with making the round arches of Romanesque pointed, then followed the French obsession with up building. The thinner walls were divided into up into layers above the arcade of arches and piers sometimes supporting a gallery. The layers above, a ‘blind storey’ of arch window frames with no glass and a layer with windows supported by flying buttresses (think Notre Dame or Canterbury Cathedral). Gargoyles, which are really just drain pipes and are often have no purpose beyond decoration, are there to ward off evil spirits. This is the Gothic adopted and glammed by the Victorians as part of their romantic bent. Though knowing what a Gothic Church meant to your average medieval peasant, you have to seriously question the Victorian view of ‘romantic’.