Here we are now in front of the old Romanesque abbot church of Lesterps. Made of light stone from Limousin, you will recognize it, with its 40 metres high bell-tower! A small chapel that count of Chabanais Joudain I gave to monks in order to found an abbey was mentioned in the 10th century. 10 years after the foundation, Gautier, son of Confolens lord and canon in the abbey of Dorat (Auvergne) became abbot of Lesterps.
But few years later, Jourdain’s son, Jourdain II, besieged the abbey: once he get inside, he raised big wall and started to ransack the area. Count of la Marche Adalbert finally expelled him in 1040: the monastery was set to fire and plundered, the church destroyed.
Only the basis of the current bell-tower left! Infuriated, Gautier, who took shelter in the Holy land during the assault, came back and asked pope something: that the two men paid every repairing. It’s a deal! The new church was finally consecrated and saint Gautier died in 1070... He was buried here, and the church was dedicated to Saint-Pierre and Saint-Gautier.
After him, abbot Rannulfe re-raised the apse between 1110 and 1140. Oh, peace came back? No, not really... During war of Religion, Protestant troops led by captain Campagnac (one of admiral de Coligny’s man) went to Poitiers siege. A long way to do! They stopped in Lesterps in 1569. About 1 000 soldiers arrived in the city and stayed 10 days: they set fire and plundered everything...
The city and the abbey were plundered, monks murdered and tortured. But our church resisted... They said that when they restored it in the 19th century, they found ashes on the vaults! In short... In the 17th century, the abbey went to ruin: yes, because they lacked money, monks didn’t repair the abbey!
The building site began only in 1669: abbot Charles-François de La Vieuville, bishop of Rennes and abbot of Saint-Laumer in Blois, restored the religious buildings. One century later, yet, the church went to ruins...