Isle of Albion
Modern lighthouse dominate this clifftop abbey.
Photographed: Thursday 13th May 2010
Site rating:  

The Abbaye de Saint Mathieu was founded in the 6th century by Saint Tanguy. It was dedicated to Matthew the Evangelist, whose skull it allegedly contained. The relics of Matthew were removed by the Normans during the 10th Century. Later in the same century, the abbey was re-founded with the support of the Viscount of Leon. It was invested with six monks and an abbot, with an annual income of 3,500 francs.

In 1294AD, the abbey was pillaged by English forces. This led to the building of fortifications in 1332AD - although this didn't prevent the English from again looting it in 1558AD.

In 1796AD, following the French revolution, the Abbaye de Saint Mathieu was disposed of as public property. Today, little remains other than the ruins of the church and a wall of the cloister.

Despite the lack of impressive ruins, this is still a popular and evocative site. The later addition of the lighthouses (the smaller now being retired) adds an unusual visual character, and the main body of the church still survives in reasonable condition. The coastal location is stunning, and the walks along the cliff path add another incentive to visit.