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St. Peter’s Cathedral in Beauvais

 The story of the world’s tallest Gothic chancel


Backing onto the “Basse Œuvre” (a rare building, once part of the Carolingian cathedral), St. Peter’s Cathedral in Beauvais surprises visitors for its unusual proportions. Because of numerous mishaps during its construction, including the collapse of the 153-metre spire in the 16th century, the nave was never built. However, its 13th-century Gothic chancel, a feature reminiscent of a glass cage with a floor-to-ceiling height of 48.5 metres, is a fabulous example of Gothic design in its own right. It is also the tallest Gothic chancel in the world.


Inside St. Peter’s Cathedral in Beauvais, you’ll find an impressive 12-metre tall astronomical clock built by Auguste-Lucien Vérité. The amount of information it provides (seasons, tides, eclipses etc.) is quite amazing. It is a 19th-century masterpiece which comes to life several times a day when 68 perfectly-synchronised automata begin to move. This is a unique sight for parents and children!

For even more information and details, check out the website: Beauvais is Culture

Beauvais, the Infinite Cathedral

 Enjoy the magic of an unusual show designed and staged by Skertzò.

 Performances in July and August at nightfall.

 “Beauvais, the Infinite Cathedral” pays homage to the wonderful history of St. Peter’s Cathedral, a building so tall that it defies all the laws of physics! Rediscover the recently renovated south door as you watch the rays of light picking out its shape!

 This is a magical combination of images, music and lights designed and produced by the famous company, Skertzò. Watch a video extract from this magical performance:

 During the 20-minute show, you’ll see various tableaux depicting the outstanding history of St. Peter’s Cathedral.


Here are a few examples:

The building of the cathedral: this scene symbolises the construction phase and recreates the south wall in minute detail. Light is used to break down the main lines of the masterpiece designed by architect Martin Chambiges, emphasising not only its vertical aspects but also the wealth of decorative detail on this fantastic facade. Martin Chambiges took decorative sculptures to a whole new level, making Beauvais Cathedral one of the most consummate examples of Gothic architecture. His entire design was based on the concept of verticality and the prodigious height of the building (60 metres) is emphasised by its vertical lines and the ornamentation across the wall. His inventiveness is also obvious in the complex motifs that he designed especially for this uniquely elegant cathedral.


The Rod of Jesse: this scene highlights two of Beauvais’ Rods of Jesse. The wealth of carvings on the north door of St. Peter’s Cathedral becomes a backdrop for the magnificent figures and decoration on the stained glass in St. Stephen’s Church. The Rod of Jesse is Christ’s family tree. He was descended from Jesse, King David’s father. Jesse is shown sleeping beneath the tree. The branches show Jesus’ ancestors up to and including the Virgin Mary. This subject is very common in Beauvais’ heritage buildings. The finest examples are to be seen on the mid 13th-century stained-glass window in the Lady Chapel in the chancel of the cathedral, on the early 16th-century tympanum above the north door in St. Peter’s and on the sumptuous stained-glass window dating from the 1520s designed by Beauvais’ master glass painter Engrand Leprince in the chancel of St. Stephen’s Church. By highlighting this symbol of Beauvais’ heritage, the show gives the audience a chance to discover, or rediscover, these masterpieces.


Tapestry weaving: the show celebrates the art of tapestry production, a skill that made Beauvais famous far beyond the immediate area after the tapestry works was set up by Colbert in 1664, during the reign of King Louis XIV. The tapestry shown in this scene is part of a wall hanging depicting the history of the Ancient Gauls. It shows the mythical kings from Troyes who are said to have ruled France. It was commissioned circa 1530 by Nicolas d’Argillières, canon of the cathedral, and was bequeathed to the cathedral when he died. Today, it is still part of the cathedral’s “treasure”. The scene shown here is a close-up of one section of the tapestry illustrating the “founding of the town of the Belgae” and including Beauvais’ cathedral during the construction of the transept. The wheel, a mediaeval hoist, can still be seen among the cathedral’s rafters. In the foreground are the small mediaeval cottages in the old town of Beauvais, while the Gothic cathedral rises skywards in all its splendour.


The concert of statues: the cathedral’s north and south doors used to be decorated with statues but they were removed during the French Revolution and, today, the niches are empty. There is no written document or engraving indicating who the statues represented or giving any details of the sculptural style. Instead, the show includes a sequence that draws on the imagination, with sculptures that come to life, occupy the niches and perform a concert, transporting the audience upwards to the topmost sections of the cathedral.