La Grosse Cloche: a resounding remnant of the Middle Ages

La Grosse Cloche: a resounding remnant of the Middle Ages

Emblematic figure of its neighbourhood, the Grosse Cloche leans against the Saint-Éloi Church, where magistrates took oaths. It is one of the few monuments from the Middle Ages that remains.

The evocation of the Grosse Cloche ("Great Bell" in English) in Bordeaux necessarily refers to the whole monument of which it was part, but which is now destroyed. Built in the 15th century on the remains of the ancient Porte Saint-Éloi, the belfry comprises two 41-metre towers connected by a central building. As for the bell, that was cast in 1775 by the founder Turmel. It weighs 7,800 kilograms and measures two metres tall, which explains its name.

In times gone by, the bell was used to announce important events such as the grape harvest or a fire. Because of this, the King was always quick to remove it - and all the clocks - when he wanted the city punished. Recently restored, the Grosse Cloche is noted for its gilded copper weathervane representing the English lion. This lion is often also said to be the symbol of Guyenne, an ancient province of which Bordeaux was the capital. What is more likely is that the symbolic animal was inherited from the Kings of England: after Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, was crowned King Henry II of England, Aquitaine spent three centuries under English reign from 1154 until 1453.

Grosse Cloche
1 rue Saint-James
Cours Victor Hugo
33000 Bordeaux

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