Saint-Hilaire-Bonneval

Arthur Young, an English farmer and agronomist who travelled around France at the end of the XVIIIth century, sang the praises of our countryside: ‘the main roads are incomparably beautiful and resemble more the broadwalks through a garden than a highway.’   

commune de Saint Hilaire Bonneval

There’s much to say about the history of our commune, so we’re going to cite a few facts, and make mention of a few monuments for you to discover in our rural inheritance.

The name, Saint-Hilaire-Bonneval, comes from that of St Hilaire of Poitiers, one of the doctors of the early Church who was born around 315, and died in 367. The latin, bonna vallis, comes to us as bonne vallée.

 

The XIIIth century church, to be found in the bourg, is our most important historical monument. It has a single nave with ribbed vaults, and a bell-tower - with a circular light, at the west end. To the right of the main door – with its pointed arch, is a buttress on which is an inscribed stone memorial of the burial here, in 1262, of the chaplain Pierre Grill.  

 

At the far side of the church square there’s a mid-nineteenth century, rectangular-shaped, bread oven. Renovated by the commune in 2009, it produces freshly-baked bread several times a year.

 

A little further along the road, there’s an oblong communal washing-place - with basins for separate washing and rinsing. Dating from 1948, it was restored in 2010. Covered by a ridged roof, it remained in use until the arrival of washing machines and running water!

 

Also to be found are typical buildings, épis de faîtage (ornamental terra-cotta roof toppings), pigeon lofts, crosses in stone, and in iron. One of our ramblers’ routes can take you to the fontaine Saint-Martin : a devotional water-source where - it is said - the saint, having drawn water, left the imprint of his knee and elbow.  Take in too; the bridges over the Roselle, fish-ponds, and buildings of a humble, yet sometimes sublime rural architecture that has come to us down the centuries.