Hambye Abbey is a delightful 12th century abbey just a few minutes drive from Hambye in Normandy. It was once a thriving monastery but fell into decline with the last monks leaving shortly before the French revolution.
It’s set in a valley in a calm and tranquil site of natural beauty. Despite being quarried, the abbey church ruins exude peace and serenity – perhaps due to the setting.
The buildings are extensive and many of them are intact having being restored. A room above the gatehouse as well as the Lay Brothers’ House often house exhibitions and tell the history of the abbey.
My favourite building is the Chapter House where the monks met every morning to read an extract from the Rule of Saint Benedict. They also dealt with the abbey’s daily business and heard confessions.
The cloister occupies the space between the church, the Lay Brothers’ House, the monk’s accommodation and the refectory. It was a space for prayer, meditation and reflection. Today, very little of it remains except for 6 small columns but it boasts a small well-tended garden.
It’s open every day except Tuesdays from April to September but closes at lunchtimes. In July and August it opens on Tuesdays as well. Guided tours of around an hour are also available. See the website for more information and opening hours.
It is a stunning site and I’d buy a season ticket if I could! The restoration programme is a triumph. Despite the fact that the monks have long gone, I always feel as if I’m walking in their footsteps as I discover the environment they lived, worked and prayed in. I’d recommend a visit to Hambye Abbey and to tempt you here’s a drone view showing some of the abbey’s gothic architecture in all its glory.