Abbaye de Fontevraud
SAUMUR , FRANCE
In 1101 Robert d'Arbrissel founded the Abbaye and prior to the Revolution this was the richest and most important monastery in France. The community was established in 1099 as both a nunnery and a monastery with an abbess in charge. This was a rather unique situation at the time. The posts were typically held by queens and princesses. It has also been a prison (1804 to 1965). Similar to many monasteries, Fontevraud is surrounded by gardens, orchards, cemeteries dating from the middle ages. The gardens have flowers, herbs and spices. The cloisters restored after seven years of work.
The buildings are immense, dating back to the 12th century and were built to house and separate the nuns and monks but also was a place for the sick and lepers.
In the abbaye are the tombstones of Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their son Richard the Lionheart. Their tombstones were carved as they were at the time they died rather than years later.
In the Chapterhouse are murals from the 16th century. . Many of the abbesses have had their portraits also added.
There were lots to feed and the kitchen sits in an octagonal building completed with 21 chimneys.