Church in a tree

 Wikipedia Commons 2 21 Allouvillebellefossechêne
This is Chêne Chappelle, a large tree holding a small church in the French village of Allouville-Bellefosse. Today, worshippers entered the tree for the Assumption of the Virgin. From Garden Design (photo by Ji-Elle/Wikipedia):
 Sites All Files Annalaurent This-Lithographed-Plate-Of-Chene-Chapelle-Appeared-In-La-Normandie-Illustree-By-Felix-Benoist-1850S-Charpentier-Pere Locals will also tell you that the tree is more than 1,000 years old. A sapling during the reign of Charlemagne, by 1035 it was already venerated—in the year that William the Conqueror would become Duke of Normandy, he prayed at its base, according to lore. Scientists will contest that the oak isn't quite as ancient, but their estimated 800 years still qualifies Chêne Chapelle as one of the oldest trees in the country. Either way, in the past several centuries, it's become one of France's most famous trees, and the only one to gather a congregation within its exalted bark...

The chapels were built in 1696, when lightening burned through the tree. Two pious locals—the Abbot du Detroit, and father Du Cerceau—regarded the hollowed trunk as a potential new sort of sanctuary to the Virgin Mary. They built a small alter space, which they would call Notre Dame de la Paix (Our Lady of Peace). Then, an exterior spiral staircase and a second small chapel was added. This was the Chambre de l'Ermite (the Hermit's Room).

"Botanic Notables: Chêne Chappelle"


  1. I hope the folks going in there pray to the Kebler elves so they’ll drop some nice cookies on them. Otherwise they’re wasting their time.

  2. So let me get this straight:   This weird, old, phallic looking church was built thrusting up into this overgrown bush to help worshipers assume that someone was a virgin.

    Sure, that makes sense.

  3. Someone needs to build a church around the tree. 

    “And thus God put a church in a tree in a church, and saw that it was good.”

  4. Is the tree still alive?  Looking at the trees in the background it seems like spring time or so, and yet this tree has no signs of visible foliage.  If it doesn’t produce leaves then I’d say it is dead, which means it is probably the oldest still standing tree in the country, but not necessarily the oldest living tree.

  5. Le_Woodman  Yikes! Thanks so much for catching the typo. Actually, it’s 1696—thanks for catching the typo. It would be hilarious if it had been 1969, but nope, many centuries before!

  6. Sounds like an excellent location for some sort of pagan celebration, actually. I’d join in the rites of spring…

  7. Hate to be a pedant (aw shucks, who am I kidding?) but I suspect the pious locals built a small altar space, rather than an ‘alter’ space.

    Unless you mean they built something strange and alternative – which I suppose they kinda sorta did.

  8. This page (in French) shows the tree with leaves, as well as a couple of small shots of the interior. (I would love more detail on this, including whether or not enough people could stand within the tree to make a “congregation.”

  9. It’s not the only one.  There are a number of large trees in Europe that have chapels in them.  Recently while surfing Wikipedia for articles on interesting trees I came across a colossal 6,000 year old baobab in South Africa that has a pub inside.  Because of course it does.

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