Access Magazine Fall 2012

Page 20

From the Conservation Department

A Closer Look at the Chapter House Chapter House, 1150-90

from the Priory of Saint John Le Bas-Nueil, Poitou-Charentes, France Limestone

Museum purchase, 1927.46

Like painting and sculpture, architecture can express ideas and emotions. This space reveals how medieval architects achieved a sense of serenity and spirituality in a monastic

meeting room. It was once part of the Benedictine Priory of

Saint John Le Bas-Nueil, which was located near the town of

Poitiers in west central France. A Chapter House is a meeting room for members of a religious community, or chapter. Here they assembled each morning after Mass to conduct daily

business. The monks sat on benches around the walls facing

each other. The Chapter House was a place for conversation, while the rest of the priory was governed by a rule of silence. Saint John Le Bas-Nueil continued as an active religious community until its deconsecration during the French

Revolution. Afterwards the Priory fell into disrepair, and this room was used as stables and for farm storage.


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