Abbey History



Abbey Blanchelande is a historic monument of the Manche , located in Neufmesnil .

The abbey owes its name to its locality Blanche Lande . It was founded in 1154 by the baron of La Haye-du-Puits and given to the Premonstratensians in 1161. The Premonstratensians or Norbertines, also known as the White Canons in Britain and Ireland, are a religious order of the Catholic Church founded in Prémontré near Laon in 1120 by Norbert of Xanten, who later became Archbishop of Magdeburg.

The abbey was built in the 12th century, altered in the 14th century and was abandoned in the 18th century.

The Abbey endures and survives the conflicts which plagued France from 1337-1598 with 261 years of turmoil - the Hundred Years War with England and the Wars of the League between Catholics and Protestants. Further turmoil and danger for the abbey with the French Revolution in 1789 till 1799. In May, 1940 Germany occupies France until June, 1944 when the allies land on the Normandy beaches with the abbey being occupied by both forces during WW2.

Hundred Years War: The Hundred Years' War (1337–1453) was a series of conflicts fought between England and France over succession to the French throne. It lasted 116 years and saw many major battles from the battle of Crécy in 1346 to the battle of Agincourt in 1415, which was a major English victory over the French.

War of the Leagues: After a series of bloody clashes, the French Wars of Religion (1562–1598), between Catholics and Protestants, the Catholic League formed in an attempt to break the power of the Calvinist gentry once and for all. The Catholic League saw the French throne under Henry III as too conciliatory towards the Protestant Huguenots.

The French Revolution: this was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789 and ending in 1799. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic resulting in violent periods of political turmoil and retribution, and finally culminating in a dictatorship under Napoleon. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution made a profound impression on the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Charles de Gerville deplores the detioration of the Abbey buildings in the 19th century, the buildings which are depicted by the British traveler Henry Gally-Knight. Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly situates his novel L'Ensorcelée ( 1852 ) in the heath of Lessay and in the abbey of Blanchelande.

The building has been listed as a Historic Monument since 2000 .


• 1154 : foundation of the abbey by Richard de la Haye and his wife Mathilde de Vernon, following a vow.

• 1337 : the One Hundred Years War.

• 1453 : end of the war.

• 1562 : the War of the Leagues.

• 1598 : end of the war.

• 1789 : the French Revolution.

• 1791 : sale of the abbey as national property to farmers. The monks occupied the abbey for 635 years.

• 1799 : end of the Revolution.

• 1845 : the abbey church is destroyed, with the exception of the bell tower. Some important elements of the abbey are saved by the mayor of Neufmesnil and placed in the parish church.

• 1857 : acquisition by the Countess of Robersart, daughter of the Duke of Praslin. Restoration of the park and the interior of the abbey home, built in 1740.

• 1880 : arrival of the auxiliary sisters from Purgatory.

• 1888 : creation of the Lemperière hospice.

• 1897 : death of Mme de Robersart. Sharing of goods. The countess stayed 40 years in Blanchelande.

• 1898 : purchase of the abbey buildings by Adèle-Pauline Lesaffre, widow of Louis Alphonse Bonduelle, heir to the Lesaffre-Bonduelle group, and of the two farms by Mr. Fonty de Brocquebeuf.

• 1940 - 1944 : the abbey is occupied by the German army, then, after the landing, by the American army.

• 1982 : the auxiliary sisters leave the abbey after 102 years of occupation.


This truly is a Historic Monument having survived political turmoil and wars for 866 years.

Help me save this wonderful antiquity.


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