Preserving our Heritage

Preserving our Heritage

The church and certain parts of the Abbey precincts are, in the opinion of the 'Bâtiment de France' architects, in an urgent state of disrepair and present one of the most worrying poor conditions amongst the listed buildings of the Dordogne'. If the restoration works are not undertaken rapidly, the risk will be to see our church closed.


A brief overview of the condition of the church

This public domain of Tourtoirac is the responsibility of the Commune and was first listed as an Historic building in 1939, this classification was renewed in 1960 and 2012 to include the total Abbey precincts.

The church, Gallo-Roman in architectural style, has double bell towers.

Visible to the naked eye, it can be seen that the structure of these two bell towers (in particular the western tower) and the roofs need to be strengthened.

The trefoil arrangement to the choir and the transept were decorated with painted murals. This transept/sacristy is the most beautiful part in the architectural plan of the church, and that which requires most attention, knowledge and skills of restoration experts. Despite the repairs to the Apsidal, the continuing leaks endanger the possible surviving frescoes beneath the coating, as they succumb to dampness and mould in the walls.

The Priory Chapel is of pure Gallo-Roman style of the end of the 12th/beginning of the 13th century with concealed resonating vases in the vault.

The roof of stone (lauze) was repaired some years ago but is now in need of urgent treatment as vegetation has taken root.

The remains of the Chapter House next to the missing cloisters is made up of a door beneath a worn arch resting on twinned small columns with a monolithic shaft and sculpted capitals. The access to these capitals could be improved once the walls separating the private part of the abbey and the presbytery are rebuilt.

The village bakery, with a working oven was rebuilt in the 17th century.

Completely surrounding the Abbey and therefore important, the ramparts are preserved to the east with enclosed steps, which allow access to the encircling pathway which continues just as far as the south transept of the church.


A Classified Monument

Churches constructed before 1905 were nationalised and transferred to the communes, who became the proprietors whether or not they were affected by the religion.

The communes were then more or less responsible for the large repairs. What is concerning for Tourtoirac church, is the particular maintenance required and enforced by it being a Classified Historic Monument.

The three steps of classification were:

  • 1. The church abbey survey was included in the supplementary inventory of 20 November 1939.

  • 2. Then classified as an historic monument on 18th March 1960 – in particular the transepts, capitals and the decorated walls of the transept/sacristy.

  • 3. The abbey residence (the private property of the De Chivré family) and the surrounding walls were included in the supplementary inventory of 24th October 1960.


Finally on the 20th November 2012, a decision from the Prefect of the Aquitaine region, extended the protected listing to include all the buildings and boundaries of the church and Abbey from the road CD5 up to the banks of the river (including the Rafaillac house), which are now protected and subject to the required authorisation for all works.

The decision of the Prefect, which can be seen below, mentions the reasons for this inscription in the Register of Historic Buildings.

'The Abbey of Tourtoirac presents an historical and artistic interest which renders its conservation desirable, because of the great quality of its medieval architecture and the existence of a large part of its enclosing wall, together with a strong potential for further archaeological discoveries'