Discovering the sanctuaries of abbeys

Architecture ,  Religious at Mons

3.4 km
Walking/pedestrian
3h
Easy
  • Starting at Grand-Place, come and discover the former refuges (see the definition below):
    of the French Hasnon Abbey, a large building in the classic Mons style from the first half of the 18th Century;
    of Liessies Abbey, which dates back to 1633 and which was re-arranged in the 18th Century; of Bélian Abbey, a rich building erected circa 1775 according to plans drawn up by Charles-Emmanuel Fonson;
    of Aulne Abbey, established in the private mansion of the knights of the Order of Malta, in the second half of the 18th Century;
    of Bonne Espérance Abbey, a vast building featuring 18 spans on two coated levels from the middle of the 18th Century;
    of the Saint-Denis-en-Brocqueroie Abbey, a listed monument and a large Louis XIV of France-era building
  • Difference in height
    52.76 m
  • Documentation
    GPX / KML files allow you to export the trail of your hike to your GPS (or other navigation tool)
Points of interest
1 visitMons - Discovering the sanctuaries of abbeys
A fortified town, Mons housed within its walls many abbey refuges. The purpose of the refuges was to act as safe houses for priests, monks, nuns, and so on, in the event of conflicts and to enable the abbot to have a luxurious place to stay in Mons at the time of meetings held in the town. They were also places where it was sometimes easier to treat sick priests, monks, nuns, and so on. The refuges also enabled certain abbey treasures to be kept out of the sight of covetous eyes when unrest rendered rural areas less safe. During this tour your route will be as follows: Grand-Place, Rue de Nimy (where the Hasnon Abbey refuge is located; also the location of the Courthouse, where the Cambron Abbey refuge formerly stood), Rue des Fossés, Rue de la Peine Perdue (the gate of the Liessies Abbey refuge which features the dwelling of the abbot which was transferred to La Cour de l’Ane Barré), Rue d’Havré (the Bélian Abbey refuge, the Aulne Abbey refuge), Rue du Hautbois, Rue Jean Lescarts, (the Lobbes Abbey refuge and the Saint-Feuillien Abbey refuge), the Marché Aux Poissons (fish market), Rue de la Halle (the Bonne Espérance Abbey refuge), Rue de Houdain (the Saint-Denis-en-Brocqueroie Abbey refuge), go down Rue de la Grande Triperie towards Rue du Grand Trou Oudart (the Crespin Abbey refuge), Rue Notre-Dame (some small houses were the back way out of the refuge of the Chapter of Sainte Aldegonde located on Grand-Rue), take a detour down Rue de la Coupe (where the remains of the Maroilles Abbey refuge are to be found), Rue des Fripiers, Rue Samson, Rue Terre du Prince, Rue des 5 Visages (Epinlieu), at the top of Rue Fétis, at one end of Rue de l’Athénée, point out the Val des Ecoliers Tower, the only abbey located in Mons, Rue Fétis (the Saint-Ghislain Abbey refuge), Square Roosevelt, Rue de la Grosse Pomme, Rue Notre Dame Débonnaire (the Ghislenghien Abbey refuge), Rue des Telliers (point out the Dames du Saint-Sacrement Chapel), Rue Tour Auberon, Rue d’Enghien, Jardin du Mayeur, Grand-Place.
2 Cambron
The site of the Courthouse (19th Century) was formerly the location of the Cambron Abbey refuge. Nothing of it remains today. Up to the 1990s when it was stolen, the Saint-Elizabeth Church housed a statue of Notre-Dame (Our Lady) of Cambron (16th Century) which was possibly the property of the Abbey.
3 Hasnon
The façade of the premises of the King’s Prosecutor is what now remains of Hasnon Abbey. The Abbey occupied the site between Rue de Nimy and Rue de la Raquette. The refuge buildings (the abbot’s quarters) were only demolished at the end of the 20th Century. The façade, incorporated into a contemporary structure, is a great example of the local Louis XIV-era style.
4 Liessies
The porch (1655) incorporated into the abode which now acts as the exit of the Grand-Place car park is the porch of the Liessies Abbey refuge. The abbot’s quarters (18th Century) were still located there until the end of the 1970s, when they were moved. Today they are part of the buildings located in Cour de l’Ane Barré. Before being occupied by Liessies Abbey, the refuge had been the refuge of the Saint-Ghislain Abbey.
5 Aulne
Established in the private mansion of the knights of the Order of Malta, in the second half of the 18th Century. The Aulne Abbey refuge, with a very narrow frontage on Rue d’Havré, extended to Rue du Hautbois and had a main central building, a quite rare occurrence, which was perpendicular in relation to the narrow façade. The façade was built in the local regency style. Previously, the refuge had been the refuge of the knights of the Order of Malta. Almost facing the Aulne Abbey refuge are the remains of the gates of the Saint-Ghislain Abbey’s former refuge (18th Century).
6 Ancien portail du Refuge Saint-Ghislain
These are the old gates to the Saint-Ghislain Abbey’s refuge. Classic 18th-Century gates.
7 Chapelle du Bélian
The refuge of Bélian Abbey dates from the 18th Century and is the work of the architect Charles-Emmanuel Fonson. The façade building, in the local Louis XVI-era style, gives onto a courtyard via a central porch. At the back of the courtyard is the main central building and to either side of it are ancillary buildings. Behind it the site opens out into a large garden where a chapel was located up until the start of the 19th Century. The Abbey’s previous refuge was located on Rue de la Grande-Triperie (and it also had a smaller refuge on Rue de la Petite-Triperie).
8 Lobbes
The Lobbes Abbey refuge was erected at the end of the 17th Century. Parts of the 17th-Century structure remain in the current building, which for the most part dates from the 18th Century (located on the corner formed by Rue Jean Lescarts and Rue Rachot). The lay-out of the refuge enabled it to have a long garden, and, from 1704, a chapel, which was authorised by the Saint-Waudru chapter (permission was required as regards every refuge which wanted to have its own chapel).
9 Saint-Feuillien
The Saint-Feuillien du Roeulx refuge, which nowadays is split into several properties, constituted a veritable scaled-down abbey from the start of the 17th Century – it had an enclosing wall, a main central building and ancillary buildings, a garden and a chapel (from 1703, but nothing remains of it today). Regarding the refuge, very few original parts remain but the space has been kept in line with the wishes of monks from the olden days.
10 Bonne-Espérance
The refuge of the Bonne-Espérance Abbey is probably the most significant of those preserved in Mons due to its size. Converted into dwellings, the refuge bears witness to the Abbey’s wish to have a prestigious building, with regular lines, a building which symbolised the Abbey’s power. An 18th-Century building, the refuge was possibly designed by Dewez, the architect of the Bonne-Espérance Abbey (near Binche).
11 Saint-Denis
The Saint-Denis en Brocqueroie Abbey refuge (the abbey was founded at the start of the 11th Century, and the abbot of it for a long time benefitted from a privilege extended by the Sainte-Waudru Chapter because he was the successor to the first monks who served in the institution established by Sainte Waudru) was built in Mons in the 14th Century. The refuge was rebuilt several times, and its most recent architecture is in a colossal or giant order style, dating from the first part of the 18th Century. It features a baroque gateway which perhaps constitutes remains of the refuge that was constructed in 1603.
12 Crespin
Of the refuge of the Crespin Abbey (northern France), there only remains a classic gateway dating from the end of the 17th or the start of the 18th Centuries, a period during which the quarter was rebuilt following bombardment of the town in 1691. The refuge of the Chapter of Sainte-Aldegonde de Mauberge was located in Rue Notre-Dame, not far away, until the end of the ancien régime. The refuge acted as church, when the Chapter’s female canons – from the Sainte-Waudru Collegiate – had to take refuge in Mons (Aldegonde was Waudru’s sister).
13 Epinlieu
The Epinlieu Abbey’s refuge dates from the 18th Century (the building giving onto the street is from the middle third of the 18th Century) and its architect could, as it existed at the start of the 18th Century, have been Claude-Joseph de Bettignies or one of his acolytes. The refuge’s chapel ceased to exist at the start of the 19th Century. It had been used as a library from 1797 onwards. The buildings are both very straightforward and a very classical as regards their designs. The Epinlieu Abbey, located outside of the town, was forced to relocate to its refuge from 1678, and the latter became the Abbey’s de facto base.
14 Saint-Ghislain
The refuge (a classic set of buildings) of the Saint-Ghislain Abbey is probably the best-preserved refuge. It was built from 1726 onwards and it was designed by the architect Nicolas de Brissy. It has retained its abbey, and it is the only one to have done so. The same architect was in charge of restoration work on the Abbey itself, which is about 15 kilometres (9 miles) from Mons. Saint-Ghislain Abbey had at its disposal several refuges which, before the Nicolas de Brissy structure was erected, were located on Rue de la Peine Perdu and on Rue d’Havré (where an 18th-Century classical doorway is still in existence, almost straight across the street from the Aulne Abbey refuge: Point 6). The grille which provides access to the courtyard dates from the end of the 19th Century.
15 Ghislenghien
Canon Edmond Puissant was a popular figure in Mons, a self-taught archaeologist, an antiques enthusiast, and a man who restored several historical buildings. In 1933 he donated the former refuge of Ghislenghien Abbey, at no. 22 on Rue Notre Dame Débonnaire, to the town of Mons. The oldest of the refuges, the refuge of Ghislenghien Abbey for a long period housed Musées Chanoine Puissant (museums named after Canon Puissant). The old abode and the neighbouring house date from the end of the 16th Century or from the start of the 17th Century. These two structures continue to bear witness to the Gothic tradition, which has a firm foothold in Mons. The entrance doorway dates from the 17th Century. The front steps are decorated with a she-bear, remains from Saint-Ghislain Abbey which have been re-used here. At the end of the tour, go past in front of the former Chapelle des Dames du Saint-Sacrement which has been redeveloped as housing and as a cultural space.
53 meters of difference in height
  • Start altitude : 59 m
  • End altitude : 56 m
  • Maximum altitude : 66 m
  • Minimum altitude : 35 m
  • Total positive elevation : 53 m
  • Total negative elevation : -55 m
  • Max positive elevation : 25 m
  • Min positive elevation : -12 m
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