The Watch

Epailly Chapel of the Order of the Temple

Courban, France

2008 World Monuments Watch

The Knights Templar began construction of the Epailly Chapel in 1200 as part of a larger military complex and a base of operations during the Crusades. The Templars occupied it until the early fourteenth century, when the Knights Hospitaler took over the site. They finished the chapel around 1330, and remained custodians of the site until the French Revolution in 1789. The chapel, considered among the most important built by the Templars in Europe, is the burial place of many clergy from the Champagne region. In addition to the sanctuary, vestiges of a number of other military structures built by the Templars are preserved at the site, including thirteenth-century fortification walls and towers and a large vaulted hall. Remains of the Hospitaler occupation include two barns, annexes, and a pigeon house. Following the French Revolution, the chapel was used as a barn. Early in the twentieth century, its owners decided to dismantle the chapel and sell its parts. Thanks to the Commission of Antiquities of the Côte d'Or, the building was rescued on the eve of its demolition and, in 1925, designated a historic monument. Like many monuments in France, the chapel was damaged during World War II and has since suffered from neglect. The structural elements of the unused chapel are collapsing and deteriorating. The roof needs to be replaced, there is a crack in the choir vault, the ribs and vaults of the first bay of the nave are splitting and breaking, and the vaults and walls of the side chapel are disintegrating and unstable. A viable plan has been suggested for the restoration of this rare example of a Crusader-era chapel. It is hoped that listing will encourage its implementation. Last update: 2008

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