L’Abbaye-aux-Dames (aka Ladies’ Abbey and Abbey of Sainte-Trinité / Holy Trinity) sits in the parish of St. Giles in Caen, Normandy was founded by Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror. The Abbey is a former monastery for women and Benedictine nuns, and is the counterpart to the Men’s abbey L’Abbaye-aux-Hommes /Abbey of Saint-Étienne.
- The Abbey was consecrated on 18th June 1066, just a few months before William’s conquest of England.
- Matilda died in 1083 and was buried in the choir under a slab of black marble.
The original spires were destroyed in the Hundred Years’ War and replaced by less striking balustrades in the early 18th century.
- The community of nuns were dispersed and suppressed by the French Revolution.
- In 1823 the local city council decided to transfer the ancient Hôtel-Dieu (possibly also founded by William the Conqueror, but more likely King Henry II of England), to the former cloister for use as a hospital, and the canonesses regular, who had assumed responsibility for the hospital from the two abbeys during the 14th century, established themselves there.
- The vault was demolished and rebuilt in 1865.
- The canonesses continued to operate there until 1908 when the facility was given to the Hospice Saint-Louis for use as a nursing home.
The church was last restored between 1990-1993.