History of the Abbey


From the year 1111 to the present day... a brief overview 1111: William of Conchamp, squire of Taillebourg, founded a Benedictine community near the Fontdouce spring. The monks followed Cistercian rules with the firm intention of returning to the strict austerity of the Benedictine order.
The first buildings (superimposed chapels, abbey church) were built in the Romanesque style during the 12th century. The Gothic part of the monastery (chapter room, parlour-corridor, refectory) was built at the beginning of the 13th century.
In 1485 Fontdouce became a royal abbey and the abbot was no longer elected by his fellow monks, but instead was chosen by the King from among his own friends. During the second half of the 16th century the abbey sustained serious damage during the Wars of Religion. The abbey church was partly destroyed, many outbuildings were dismantled and the entire hydraulic system of the monastery damaged. The abbey's population decreased dramatically and the abbey was ruined. In 1793, following the French Revolution, the abbey was sold as a “National Property” and the last monks were forced to flee.
Between 1799 and 1818 the abbey was sold in lots to the present owners, the Boutinet family, who converted the site into a farm and a vineyard from about 1820 and built their owner-occupied house in the Napoleonic Empire style in line with the medieval buildings.
In 1958, Robert Boutinet, the owner-farmer of the Abbey, had the Chapter Room and parlour-corridor listed as historic monuments.
In 1970: Gérard and Jean-Pierre Boutinet, Robert's sons, inherited the property and started the task of excavating the Eastern arches of the “scriptorium”; work which then continued throughout the whole site.
  • 1973: excavation of the parlour corridor.
  • 1974: start of the Chapter room excavation
  • 1976: excavation of the lower chapel
  • 1984: restoration of the windows in the monks' dormitory
  • 1986: excavation of the North side of the lower chapel
  • 1994: restoration of the apse in the higher chapel and the lower chapel door
  • 1996: recreation of the formal gardens and opening of the parlour-corridor on the garden side
  • 2003: restoration of the abbey church's chapel
  • 2004: exploratory excavation of the monks' room
  • 2006: start of the monks' room excavation
  • 2007: further excavation of the monks' room
  • 2008: restoration of the monks' room
  • 2009: monks' room roofing
  • 2011: The abbey of Fontdouce celebrated 900 years of history and opened the fully-restored monks' room. 
création Bernezac Communication © mentions légales Abbaye de Fontdouce 17770 Saint Bris-des-Bois - Tél / Fax 05 46 74 77 08