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Review: Tence



A busy market town

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2341 reviews

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  • Sep 2012
  • Husband

48 people found this review helpful

Tence is a busy market town between Yssingeaux and St-Agreve and the main service town for the area, with a lot of shops. It is a sprawling modern settlement of little character which grew up round an 11thC Benedictine priory which is now the site of the Hôtel de Ville. It retains it’s medieval street pattern with a lot of narrow one way streets lined with old houses around the church which was built on the highest part of the town.

Église St Martin is in a square surrounded by old houses. The choir and the south part of the nave are all that remains of the 16thC church which was burnt down and rebuilt in the 17thC. It is a long low building with massive buttresses on either side of the transept. Above is a square tower which holds 5 bells and has a pointed roof with a smaller spire at the top. The south door has an elaborate portico with carved flowers, hearts and pillars. Above is a carving of a sun with a triangle inside it. Entry is through the west door.

In the 1970s there was a major restoration of the church. The six pillars in the nave were removed to create a huge open space and were replaced by two enormous wood covered reinforced concrete beams. There is a large organ over the west door with a gallery and seats on either side.

There are four massive pillars in the transept which support the tower and have round arches. In the transept is a modern altar of beaten copper with a design of grapes and sheaves of wheat. The floor standing pulpit and lectern are also beaten copper.

There are beautifully carved pillar capitals in the chancel with the symbols of the four evangelists, animals and a head with a very long twisted tongue. The carved wooden choir stalls have high backs and there is a small wooden altar in the apse at the east end. The chancel ceiling is vaulted with carved bosses.

The central stained glass window in the chancel is St Martin, a 4thC Roman soldier who shared his coat with a beggar and had a vision of Christ wearing this half of his coat. To the left is St Jean-François Regis who is buried at Lalouvesc and there is an picture of the Basilica at Lalouvesc at the top of the window. To the right is St Jean-Marie Vianney , Curé d’Ars with a picture of Ars church at the top of the window.

The south aisle has a wooden table altar with a statue of the Virgin above it. The north aisle has a cross above a stone host box (tabernacle) which has a dove and communion cup and plate on the door.

This is a busy market town with little to attract the tourist.

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