Church of Saint-Germain du Salembre

History of Saint Germain du Salembre

The municipality of Saint GERMAIN DU SALEMBRE owes the first part of its name to Saint GERMAIN L’AUXERROIS, bishop of AUXERRE (378-31 July 448). A contemporary of ST AUGUSTIN, leader of a religious community, a model of virtue, a man of action in permanent contact with the political authorities, he founded two schools for the formation of clerics and missionaries.
The second part corresponds to the Salembre, the watercourse that waters the municipal territory from northeast to south.

Every year, a pilgrimage takes place to the Abbey of Saint GERMAIN d’AUXERRE.
On the other hand, the village of Saint Germain identifies itself with the “Calembrio” of the Table de Peutinger, which is the oldest known map of the Roman roads, from the Roman Empire to Asia.
While it is known that the pilgrimage to Saint Jacques de Compostelle can be made by four main routes in France, many people are unaware that one of these routes crosses the Périgord. Thus the jaquary path of the ribéracois which crossed our commune along a straight north-south axis coming from POITIERS and passing near ANGOULEME.
The Salembre valley has been a very popular place of passage since ancient times. A narrower pass encouraged the construction of structures suitable for monitoring the valley, and it is there that the village was founded 6 km from NEUVIC and 8 km from Saint ASTIER. The occupation of the site is very old, as evidenced by the medocan edge axes of the Middle Bronze Age (1500-1200 BC) and the Galloroman remains discovered there.

The first known written mention of the place dates back to 1104 and refers to its church, in the form of Sanctus Germanus de Salembre.
On the map of Cassini representing France between 1756 and 1789, the village is identified as Saint Germain du Salambre.

The church of Saint-Germain

Interieur of a churchThe church of Saint-Germain has the particularity of presenting two parallel naves: a 12th century Romanesque church in the north and a 16th century Gothic church in the south. There is no longer any apparent trace of the fortified part of this church. The Romanesque part, to the north, which includes the sturdy square bell tower, the refuge room and the choir at the chevet dates from the 12th century with a revival in the 13th century. The bell tower was restored in the 19th century. The second late Gothic church, added to the south of the shorter and wider Romanesque building, was built in 1537.

In the mysterious funeral crypt, dug under the choir of the ancient part, were buried the lords of the place, the richest dignitaries and notables, but also many parishioners who enjoyed this privilege. This custom lasted particularly long until a royal edict ended it in 1778.
Inside the church there is a beautiful altar made of gilded and polychrome carved wood and a statue of the Virgin and Child.
The castle, which included a moat and a drawbridge giving access to high walls, only retains its dungeon from its defensive system, whose shape, flat and square buttresses recall the bell tower, and therefore the 12th century. The building, enlarged in the Renaissance, is accompanied by a square tower and a barlong staircase tower, topped by a Perigord roof. The presence, on the first floor, of a gallery with arches decorated with a balustrade, gives it grace and - view on altar

But Saint Germain can also offer tourists and holidaymakers the opportunity to take beautiful walks through the woods and hills, to find the trace of the famous château MERLE, ruined after a murderous battle, of which the “brook of the Battle” still reminds us, to reflect in front of the monument erected in recognition of the sacrifice of the maquisards killed on 27 July 1944 in the village of ESPINASSE. But it can also be simply the opportunity to discover the laughing and peaceful Salembre valley, a real contact with a preserved nature.


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