Stalls and misecordes
The stalls are defined as a whole of individual compartments, the more often in wood, we sometimes see in some religious monuments and reserved to the only clerks.
The Limousin conserved wonderful testimonies of this liturgical furniture in few of its buildings. All of them ask to be discovered with the finer points. Indeed, the stalls often reveal in their choice of decoration surprises for our eyes today…
Stalles du couvent des Carmes de Mortemart
Originally these compartments were separated by glass stops where every religious has to follow the office standing up, however the prayers became longer and longer and frequent in the day and so a mobile seat had been created with a short stool above and between the glass stop.
These seats are named misecordes, literally seats of mercy. Indeed, they permitted the religious to lean on the stool in order to let their legs rest but giving in the same time the appearance to be standing up. Usually these misecordes were ornamented with a sculpture.
The stalls of the abbey of Solignac
The construction period of the abbey started in the second part of the 15th century when the abbey was rich and protected and so got equipped with magnificent stalls in the choir.
The wonderful oak stalls of Solignac had been realized between 1457 and 1484 when Martial of la Vergne was abbot. They present an amazing decoration in half relief on the entirely composition with representations quite unexpected on the misericordes. Visitors can admire funny, contorted, teasing faces, specific to the profane register.
LES STALLS OF THE MORTEMART CHURCH
The stalls of Mortemart
These stalls are medieval and had been reshuffled in the 15th century. The thirty stalls of the Chapel of the Augustins are composed of very high backs, rhythmed with crossed arcades, armrests and misericordes. In front of each stall, we find a prie-dieu used as back in the lowest ranks without dais.
The superior stalls are elevated of three steps to enable a better sight of the sanctuary. The glass stops delimiting every stall are decorated with a small column with a small character on the top, sometimes an animal, used as a hand support. The misericordes are sculpted of leaves, fruits, characters or animals. The design is typical: the iconography is far away of the proper religious themes.
(Source - Bernadette Barrière "Les stalles de Mortemart")