A bit of history
From the Roman times until today
The name of the city Yvré comes from YVRIACUS, the name of the owner of a large estate (villa) during Roman times. On this estate, they used to train horses.
This name first appears in a text dating from 616 A.D.
It is supported by archaeological findings (notably in La Bourdasière in 1857 and more recently, during the excavations made for the Motorway A28). At the beginning of the 12th century, the bishop Hildebert had a country house built, which was gradually expanded to become the residence of the bishops of Le Mans, hence the name Yvré l’Evèque.
In 1589, Henry IVstayed in the castle on way through the region.
Later, the castle was sold and finally demolished in 1840.
During the French Revolution (after 1793), Yvrél’Evêque became Yvré sur l’Huisne.
After that it was named Yvrélèsle Mans before reclaiming the name Yvrél’Evêque under Napoleon Bonaparte.
In January 1871, Auvours Plateau was the site of a terrible battle between the Chanzy army and the Prussians.
More recently, on the 8th of August 1944, the village was liberated by the American army after several violent engagements in the village centre.
The Town Hall
Before the Revolution, the old part of the town hall was the presbytery of the parish church which was confiscated in 1797.
During the first World War, this residence was named after the Belgian King Albert and hosted an infirmary for the Belgian officers staying in Auvours.
The company Leduc-Ladevèze bought it in 1924 to lodge its workers. In 1935, a fruit and vegetable wholesaler settled there.
The town hall was inaugurated in 1994.
The Tithes Barn
This block of flats was built in 1990 on the site of a farm adjoining an old presbytery (the town hall today) of which only remains a porch and a small covered market.
It was named after a tax the Roman Catholic clergy used to collect and which stopped on August 4th, 1789 after the abolition of the feudal rights.
Saint Germain Church
It was just a simple nave in the 11th century which was burned down in the 12th century then rebuilt by the Bishop Guillaume de Passavent with a choir apse in the Plantagenêt style.
It was restored and expanded at the end of the 19th century by the architect Pascal Vérité and provided with a new bell-tower in 1904.
The most interesting features are: The Zouaves Chapel, the stain glass windows from the Echivard and Fialeix workshop, the painting by Lionel Royer, the painting by Broc (1892), the “Christ aux liens” and the baptismal fonts (XVIIth)
The Bishops’ Castle
Until the Revolution, a renaissance castle which was the Summer Residence of the Bishops of Le Mans, could be seen on this site. It had been built by Philippe de Luxembourg with a large episcopal estate which extended from Auvours Plateau to Montsort woods.
In 1791, it was the first property which was confiscated and sold in Yvré L’Evêque, but it’s successive owners neglected it. Used as a quarry by locals, it was slowly dismantled stone by stone during the 19th century and disappeared completely thereafter.
The Roman Bridge
It was built in the 16th century by the bishop Jean du Bellay and was named after the primitive bridge which already existed there in roman Times. In 1589, King Henry IV took it to reach Le Mans to fight the members of the League. In about 1771, because of the building of a wooden bridge downstream, it was nicknamed the “Stone Bridge”. It was last restored in the 19th century.
This shop was part of the power loom cloth mill Leduc-Ladevèze which was taken over by the GénéraleFrançaise de Literie which has recently moved to Neuvillesur Sarthe.
Hemp, linen and gunny cloth were being finished off: pressed, smoothed out then dried between metal cylinders, thus the cloth increased in length by 4 or 5 %. It was used to make canvas sheets or sacks for agricultural products.
The Fountain of Gérence
From time immemorial, the inhabitants from Yvré L’Evêque came there to draw its water, famous for its ophthalmic properties. Its name is supposed to come from the mother of Saint Geneviève, who had recovered her eyesight after drinking the water from this spring in her home village. The building which shelters the fountain since the 18th century was a gift from Monseigneur de Jarente, abbot at that time of Saint Vincent Abbey in Le Mans. He is said to have adopted this water as his usual drink.
The Epau abbey
It was founded by Queen Bérangère , the widow of Richard the Lionheart in 1229 and was rebuilt in the 14th century after the fire of 1365.It was altered in the 17th and 18th centuries.During the French Revolution, the last monks abandoned the abbey and it was confiscated by the state and converted into a farming community. It has been the property of the « ConseilGénéral de la Sarthe » since 1959 and Contrary to popular belief it is not part of Le Mans but is in the territory of Yvré on the left bank of the river Huisne.
Rich in history as well as legends, the abbey has been listed as an historic monument since 1961.
Not to be missed : the abbey with its beautiful stained glass, the chapter house, the vault of the monks’ dormitory, the scriptorium, the home of the abbot, the recumbent tomb of Queen Bérengère and the peaceful gardens of the abbey.
The Auvours Monument
At the top of the Auvours hill, a monument was raised commemorating the last battle of the 1870-71 war which took place between the men of the 17th and 21st French battalions against the men of the IXth and Xth battalions of the Prussian army. This cruel battle took place on January 11, 1871 in the snow and glacial cold of -12°C and the two armies met with violent impact. After many losses, General Gougeard, at the head of his forces, regained the plateau of the hill before retreating from the enemy, obeying the orders of his HQ. After his death in 1886 and following his wishes, he was interred under the monument where lay the remains of about a hundred French and Prussian soldiers, on the very place he had led the charge on January 11, 1871.
The Boëssée Cross
The Renaissance Cross (dating from the XVIth?) came from the old cemetery located on the present churchyards and it was moved to the new cemetery in 1771. The blessed palm leaves which are laid in front of this cross at Easter processions are said to have given it its name. It was damaged during the battles which took place in 1871 and 1944 and was saved at the very last minute by the local council.
Moody’s grave (Canadian aviator)
On June 12, 1944 the lieutenant V.K. Moody’s plane was shot down by the German anti-aircraft defense. The plane crashed at Villemusard and the pilot age 24 although grievously injured, managed to eject with his parachute and landed at Renault Denis. Unfortunately, he was not to survive his injuries.He lies in Y. far from his native country and remains in the hearts of the inhabitants as the first liberator of the town.