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La Chartreuse de Neuville A monumental hidden gem in the countryside of northern France...
A long, tree lined drive surrounded by fields and forests, makes for an impressive entrance to a grand arched doorway. Step through and you’ll enter a different world. One which has its feet firmly in the past. I’d spotted this monumental building from the ramparts of nearby Montreuil-sur-Mer’s citadel. It’s hard to miss the grey stone belfries reaching to the sky and row upon row of ancient buildings which stand out amongst the forests and fields of the lush countryside. La Chartreuse de Neuville-sur- Mer or the Charterhouse, as it’s called in English, is nothing short of astonishing. History of the Charterhouse In 1084, a group of monks wanting to follow the harsh, contemplative lives of early Christian hermits, formed a small community in the Chartreuse Mountains, near Grenoble, southeast France. They led silent, meditative lives and owned no possessions. From this beginning grew a new monastic order that spread rapidly across Europe. The monks became known as Carthusians and their priories as charterhouses. History of La Chartreuse de Neuville Charterhouses were established all over Europe. They were all built to a formal specification and for the same purpose says my guide Patrick Alindre at La Chartreuse. Around a Cour d’honneur lived the Brothers, monks who worked in the monastery and supported the Fathers. Behind this were the apartments of the Fathers. Each lived alone and in silence. The Charterhouses were huge “because only then could silence be guaranteed and that was essential to the role of the Fathers” says Patrick as our footsteps echo around the enormous cloisters. The original charterhouse of Neuville was built in 1324, commissioned by the powerful Count of Boulogne in the shadow of Montreuil-sur-Mer which was a pilgrimage destination, as well as a prosperous port town.
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