Eglise Saint-Joseph

  • Vue générale
  • Cloître
  • Pilier du cloître
Verdon Tourisme > Eglise Saint-Joseph

Saint-Joseph church belongs to the Alpes de Haute-Provence department. It was the church of the former Augustins convent. Today, it is the Collège du Verdon. The church and its cloister are not open to the public, except in exceptional circumstances.

On February 15, 1281, Charles II, Count of Provence, donated a meadow to the Augustinians of Castellane to build their convent. The original building thus dates from the last years of the 13th century, but few of its features have survived to the present day. It is known, for example, that the convent suffered greatly during the Wars of Religion, and was burnt down in 1559 by the men of Antoine de Mauvans, a local gentleman who espoused the ideas of the Reformation.

The church and cloister were rebuilt at the end of the 16th century by Jean Féraud, who acted as both architect and contractor. Mgr Mouchy, Bishop of Senez, had his private chapel built here. It was also at this time that the convent was enclosed within the new fortifications. The tower in its south-western corner has long borne the date 1588. The convent was bought by the commune during the French Revolution.

In January 1790, the minutes of the sale of national property describe it as comprising a refectory, courtyard with well, kitchen, pantry, oven, cellar, bedrooms, dovecote, stables, hayloft, cloister wings, huts, driveway, walkway and arable land.

Transformed into a college in the 19th century, it has remained a secondary school to this day. In 1875, the deteriorating church was demolished so that the main road could be widened. On February 25, 1878, the commune decided to lease the college building to the Frères de Saint-Gabriel, who were responsible for carrying out the renovation work designed by the engineer Tourniaire. A boys’ elementary school was thus set up in the buildings. The work, carried out by Désiré Honnorat and François Guirand, was accepted in 1880. The elementary school did not move until after the Second World War. In 1888, in response to a complaint from parents, the commune decided to secularize teaching at the collège, which was nevertheless entrusted to the same congregation.

Architecturally, the convent was originally almost square in plan. The destruction of the church did not radically alter this situation. Apart from a very recent extension housing the new refectory, the present-day college comprises the old cloister, whose trapezoidal floor plan also borders on the square, with its tiers of galleries, and the buildings bordering it to the east, west and south, including the round corner tower to the south-west of the building. This tower houses the dovecote.

The north gallery of the cloister has been converted to accommodate the new documentation center. At least the northern half of the cloister’s west gallery is occupied by a chapel still used for worship.
On the first floor, the four cloister galleries are not identical. The east, west and south galleries are similar. However, they are not exactly the same length (between 17 and 19 m), and while each has three monolithic pillars between the two corner pillars, their spacing is slightly different.
The pillars on the south gallery are the most elaborate: their corners are broken in the shape of a canelure. One of the capitals, in the shape of a machicolated tower, bears the Castellane coat of arms. All the arches supported by these pillars, composed of a single row of keystones, are slightly lowered. The north gallery, on the other hand, aligns six pillars between the corner pillars.
The differences are even more marked on the second floor. The east and south elevations, as well as a small part of the west elevation, are treated as open galleries, with regular arcades rendered in thick plaster. The west and north elevations, on the other hand, lack this second gallery level, which has been replaced by classrooms. Unlike the other two, they also feature a third level. To the north of the chapel, a small square bell tower extends from a belfry wall.


Place Marcel Sauvaire
04120 Castellane-en