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Little histories about Langonnet abbey

The cloister | Lanzonnet / CC-BY-SA
Abbey Robbery Cistercian La Fontenelle Langonnet abbey

A big swamp

Maurice and Conan

Duke Conan III founded the abbey in 1136. 12 monks turned up from l’Aumône abbey near Chartres, and settled.

The place was located near the old road linking Port-Louis to Carhaix: a big swamp sheltered from the wind, with woods all around.

River Ellé ran next to it and allowed landscaping of ponds for fish-farming.

Linen and parchments

Monks attended to their business. They had to work hard and pray. They cultivated vegetables, others made linen or parchments, others iron…

Our abbey was completely self-sufficient!

In the Middle Ages, the abbey owned lands in Breton parishes of Gourin and Le Faouët, but also get private incomes.

Langonnet became pretty prosperous and rich… Until the decadence, in the 16th century!

Times of wars


We were now in 1536, and the decadence began.

Why? Because of commende: a new law saying lay abbots had to be appointed at the head of French abbeys.

My gosh, ordinary men! And those lay men didn’t care about their monasteries, they only took all the income…

Among those ″abbots″, Langonnet kept names of:

  • the Bonacourcy, a family closed to queen Mary of Medici;
  • the Marboeuf, a rich family from Rennes...

A bloodthirsty crook

Things get complicated during wars of Religion: do you know La Fontenelle?

A famous cruel Breton crook who plundered a part of Brittany… including Langonnet.

He expelled all the monks and destroyed all the precious books and archives.

In 1598, when monks came back, the abbey looked like a heap of ruins! It was re-raised between 1688 and 1788.

One century of colossal building works…

A stud-farm in the abbey!

A dark death trap

Monks left during the French Revolution.

Langonnet became a sinister lair, in 1803. A pretty dreary place!

″60 families of poor people, jobless, with nothing to do″ lived here, says the visit book printed by the abbey.

Sometimes they killed and robbed… Brr!

Horsies and Holy Spirit

In 1806, emperor Napoleon decided to settle a stud-farm in Langonnet, in order to save buildings: the church was transformed into stables.

70 stallions lived here, so they raised an additional wing!

And, in 1857… congregation of the Holy-Spirit from Gourin city moved in the abbey.

What about the stud-farm? It moved in the city of Hennebont!

Nowadays, congregations members still live here, but we can visit the place!

The visit of Langonnet

The cloister

With its 3 buildings with a U-shape, the cloister was re-raised in reinforce concrete between 1930 and 1936.

On one corner, we have the big granite bell-tower: typically Cistercian!

The courtyard

In the middle, a Virgin Mary statue, the exact copy of Notre-Dame-de-France made for the Universal Exhibition of 1878.

We notice 3 blazons: the Cistercian order, the Brittany duchy, the congregation of the Holy-Spirit (with a dove and a heart).

The chapter room

It’s the only remain (1250) of the primitive abbey!

We notice a nice door: did you see this strange orange color? It’s because of the stone, ferruginous granite!

The chapel

The current chapel dates back to the arrival of the Congregation: 1858.

The rococo style in all its glory! We even have saint Maurice recumbent figure.

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!