Liturgical wardrobe

The wardrobe seems to disappear in the Middle Age in favor of coffins, bins and sideboard, except to keep locked weapons in the castles or in churches and monasteries. A particular wardrobe (“conditoria” in Latine) was the furniture built in the monasteries, churches and chapels closed to the altar where we put on for example the Blessed Sacrament, vases or sacred objects, holly oils, relics etc. the wardrobe was assisted or replaced by a closet directly built in the architecture. A strong lock permitted to lock them up with a key.

 

(Source - Wikipedia)

 

The oldest wardrobe conserved in France would be the one of the Obazine abbey in Corrèze. Two old wardrobes of this kind, but dated from the late 13th century are conserved in the cathedral Notre-Dame of Bayeux and in the cathedral Notre-Dame of Noyon, but those ones are ornamented with paintings.

 

 

The liturgical wardrobe of Obazine: the oldest furniture of France…

 

 

The abbey of Obazine owns a liturgical wardrobe considered as the oldest one conserved in Europe like it has been dated from the second part of the 12th century

 

 

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The liturgical wardrobe of Aubazine church of the 12th

The wardrobe of Obazine is built as a coffin in large assembly whose panels are fixed with wrought iron elements. It has been realized in oak whose use is one of the main characteristic of this period and almost exclusive in the Middle Age. The design is of an architectural inspiration: metallic hinges of the doors remain those of the churches. It presents some similitudes with the shutters of a closet built in the north wall of the church and seemly dated back to the 12th century. The geminate windows put on each side of the furniture, the small columns on the angles of the supports, the saw tooth on the cornice border are also architectural motifs we see in the church. The cornice presents red painting marks and the borders of the locks are marked with golden parts, which indicate this wardrobe was polychromic in the past. This is by the way testified with the fact that the two other old wardrobes from the end of the 13th century conserved in the cathedral of Notre-Dame of Bayeux and Notre-Dame of Noyon are painted.

 

The façade is covered with three rows of decorative big nails and brass strips fixed with thin tips, today missing. The locks which block the latches ornamented with animal heads are original. In the 17th century, air vents had been drilled on the sides. In 1891, the wardrobe of Obazine is classified as a Historic Monument and is among the oldest furniture protected in France. It is in a remarkable state of conservation and remains the oldest liturgical furniture of France but also of the Christianity.

 

In 1960 the wardrobe is cleaned and the inferior parts restored. Indeed, the legs were worm-eaten and in a very bad condition. It is probably at this moment that the wooden frame on which the legs of the wardrobe are now lean on had been made. In 1982 a second intervention restored the bases and low sleeper of the right side and restituted some of the eight small columns.

 

 

Liturgical wardrobe of Sagnat Church

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Liturgical furniture of Aubazine church of the 14th

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