From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Town hall
Town hall
Coat of arms of Lampaul-Guimiliau
Coat of arms
Lampaul-Guimiliau is located in France
Coordinates: 48°29′34″N 4°02′30″W / 48.4928°N 4.0417°W / 48.4928; -4.0417Coordinates: 48°29′34″N 4°02′30″W / 48.4928°N 4.0417°W / 48.4928; -4.0417
Country France
Region Brittany
Department Finistère
Arrondissement Morlaix
Canton Landivisiau
Intercommunality Pays de Landivisiau
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Jean-Louis Puchois
Area1 17.48 km2 (6.75 sq mi)
Population (2013)2 2,067
 • Density 120/km2 (310/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
INSEE/Postal code 29097 /29400
Elevation 39–172 m (128–564 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Lampaul-Guimiliau (Breton: Lambaol-Gwimilio) is a commune in the Finistère department and administrative region of Brittany in north-western France. It is noted for its parish close.


Historic dioceses of Brittany

The place name element lan or lam (llan in Welsh) originally signified an enclosure, particularly a sacred enclosure, and later came to mean a church. The name Lampaul therefore means church or enclosure dedicated to St Paulinus. St Pol (Paol, Paul, or Paulinus) was one of the seven founder saints of Brittany, a 6th-century Welsh missionary closely associated with the Léon diocese of Brittany, in which Lampaul-Guimiliau is situated. Parish closes are a distinctive feature of this diocese, although they are not entirely confined to it.

In the Middle Ages, the village was part of the parish of Guimiliau. This means township of Miliau, a Breton saint of the 6th or 9th century. Later, rising prosperity and economic growth brought separate status, with a separate parish church. Hence the name in full means St Pol's Church in the Settlement of St Miliau.


Parish close[edit]

The calvary that dominates the church yard of Lampaul-Guimiliau.

Parish closes are a distinctive feature of the Breton culture of the Léon region. The close is so-called because it is a church yard entirely enclosed by a wall, with a ceremonial entrance arch. The closes of the Léon diocese date from the 16th and early 17th centuries, when the area was at the peak of its prosperity, founded on the hemp industry and on Channel and Atlantic trade.

Belfry and portal.

The parish close of Lampaul-Guimiliau commands the road junction at the centre of the village. It is one of the best examples of its kind. It contains not only the church and graveyard of the parish, but also a large and elaborate calvary or crucifix and a noted charnel house, both common features of Breton closes, and a vast belfry. The church and charnel house display a large body of polychrome sculpture, mainly of 16th or 17th century date and rich in complex Christian iconography, reflecting the preoccupations of the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reformation.


The church and belfry.

The belfry or bell tower, constructed from 1573, was originally one of the highest in Finistère. However it was truncated by fire following a lightning strike in 1809.

Charnel house[edit]

The charnel house or ossuary dates from 1667 and was designed by the architect Guillaume Kerlezroux. it is dominated by a retable portraying the Risen Christ. Formerly it also housed a notable tableau of the Entombment of Christ, which has now been moved into the church itself.

Polychrome interior[edit]

The interior of the church is replete with polychrome sculpture and decoration. Dominating the nave is a 16th-century rood screen, showing the crucified Christ, attended by the Virgin Mary and St John the Apostle. Below this, scenes of the Passion are represented in rich detail.

A number of complex retables focus on the Passion and on the lives and deeds of saints, including John the Baptist, St Margaret the Virgin, and St Lawrence. Each is divided into numerous panels, with episodes modelled in relief, and each is flanked by free-standing statuary. There are also a number of important separate free-standing pieces, including an oak Descent from the Cross, the Entombment, and St Pol.

The baptistery is one of the most striking among the parish closes. It is an octagonal Baroque concoction, dating from about 1650. Unlike most of its kind, it is elaborately polychrome, with highly-elaborate pillars and finely-modelled representation of the baptism of Christ.

The church also displays its banners. These are an important artifact of Breton culture. They form a rallying point for parishioners attending the local pilgrimage festivals, known as pardons.



In French the inhabitants of Lampaul-Guimiliau are known as Lampaulais.

Historical population of Lampaul-Guimiliau
Year 1793 1800 1806 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851 1856
Population 1988 2010 2068 2249 2443 2482 2496 2458 2455 2370
Year 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896 1901 1906
Population 2457 2423 2333 2427 2402 2565 2510 2307 2176 2132
Year 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954 1962 1968 1975
Population 2138 1847 1719 1575 1459 1405 1232 1143 1149 1540
Year 1982 1990 1999 2008 2013
Population 1973 2037 1990 2027 2067

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

Yannick Pelletier, Lampaul-Guimiliau, Editions Jean-Paul Gisserot, 2005. ISBN 978-2-87747-498-6 A guide to the church, in French, with an introduction to the cultural and historical background to parish closes.

External links[edit]