Saint-Leu-d'Esserent
(Oise, France)
Saint-Nicolas
Surveyed: 1969, 1977, 1980-83, 2003, 2005, 2015
This is an experimental section where John James is attempting to identify the carvers though the use of common templates and/or a recognisable manners of carving. Such a large-scale analysis of all the capitals in these buildings has not been attempted before. As an ongoing enterprise that is still in its infancy, we seek your input. John believes this has the potential to increase our understanding of how they worked and to provide a more solid basis for dating than we have had.
Abbey had been founded in 1085, all that remains is the west wall, possibly west door, with two capitals
Narthex entry, totally restored
Narthex to top of internal buttresses above vaults; R profile in doubleau, �0� boss.
Choir foundations to bases of eastern towers with apse sills like St-Denis and thin buttresses angled to centre, possibly for flyers; plans for buttresses altered near floor level suggesting a significant delay and with a joint at chapel drips; the original single-light windows to the chapels are also like those at Saint Denis. The capitals suggest a date after Saint Denis and before Senlis, some time in the mid-1140s.
Eastern tower bases to vaults, in which the bases indicate that the EN1 and ES1 piers that support the eastern towers were erected after the walls of the chapels, and from such poor stone that the majority of their capitals have had to be replaced; bases have square rib plinths that were designed to support aa,f,r,f,d, and as work progressed the north tower remained a few courses more advanced than the south
Walls of choir and towers with capitals and aisle vaults, but no work to ambulatory drum piers as this is where the earlier apse may have been.
Choir gallery and arcade arches were supported on the old church because the capitals on the gallery jambs are earlier in manner to the ambulatory drums underneath, as in st Remi and Noyon; and as chapel and ambulatory vaults were built together, both would have been built at this time.
Bases to W1 pier and wall with rib plinths set at 45 and support a shaft arrangement of aa,f,45,f,d.
Nave 2-3 drum, pier and wall have rib bases at 45 and support aa,f,45,d.
Erection of the jambs to the choir gallery that rest on the walls of the existing apse
Ambulatory drums inserted under earlier gallery, dated to late 80s, so we presume demolition of older apse that had been supporting the vaults and the gallery
Choir gallery wall and axial chapel, vaulted in 4 campaigns around these walls and the chapel from details in the little triforium windows
Crossing triforium, and the lower flyer bonded with wall
Choir clerestory capitals and start of windows; the single openings in choir triforium external wall after lower flyers and in bays 2-3 clerestory the joint just below caps,
Crossing and choir vaults.
Double openings in middle 3 bays in external choir triforium wall.
Nave capitals 4-8 piers and wall as pilier-cantonne.
Triple openings in triforium external wall, and on south joint at clerestory walkway between profile and drip.
Nave clerestory 5-9 with start of windows; there is a joint under clerestory sills, which may be why clerestory sills are 4 courses lower than in east, level with impost.
Nave vaults 5-9 constructed sloly with western vault around 1230; eastern towers first level.
Spire to eastern towers


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