St Martin’s Parish Church is built on a site that’s hosted religious services for 1000 years. The current church isn’t quite that old, but it’s close. It was consecrated on 4 February 1199.
That actually pre-dates any of the remaining parts of the current building. It would seem that what constituted the church at the time of its consecration has been lost. However, the bulk of the current building was constructed in the first half of the 12th century. The clock, porch and sundial were added between 1520 and 1869.
La Gran’mère du Chimquière
Yet, even this millennium-old church is young when compared to the statue that stands at its gate. La Gran’mère du Chimquière, a carved figure of a woman, dated from the megalithis period, around 2000 years BC. Its name translates literally as grandmother of the cemetery.
It is 1.65 metres tall, with a further 40cm underground. Most likely, it was originally a standing stone and the female figure, representing Mother Earth or a goddess of fertility, was carved into it in Roman times.
Newly-married couples have traditionally places coins or flowers on the Gran’mère’s head in the hope it will being them luck and make them fertile.
In the 19th century, the statue was broken in half by a church warden who objected to a pagan object on the church land. It has since been repaired, but the location of the break can still clearly be seen running diagonally down from right to left.