The Protestant TempleThe Protestant Temple
©Listed building with typical Normandy materials|Aurore Pélerin
LunerayHeritage of a Protestant bastion

Clandestine cemeteries

Did you know?

There are several cemeteries in and around Luneray! We know of course the North cemetery and the South cemetery. The first was once dedicated to Protestants and the second to Catholics. But other lesser known cemeteries are scattered throughout the town…

Let’s go back a few centuries to understand the existence of these places of Protestant memory.


A bit of history...

The historical context

In 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes restricted the freedoms of Protestants. Many temples and schools were then destroyed. Protestants had to submit to Catholic baptism and marriage, and were forbidden to emigrate on pain of being conscripted into the galleys.

The ban on Protestantism in France, from 1685 to 1787, led to the disappearance of Protestant cemeteries, and forced “new converts” to be buried in the Catholic faith.

Remaining secretly faithful to their faith, Protestants buried their dead clandestinely. The ceremonies, of extreme simplicity, took place mainly at night. The deceased were buried in cellars, gardens and meadows, hidden from view. No stele or other clue made it possible to locate their locations because the discovered graves risked exhumation and the families’ property could be confiscated!

Protestant burials gradually became tolerated despite the laws in force, and in Luneray a plot of land was allocated for the burial of “non-Catholics”, it was the Clos Philippot! This was later used as the official Protestant cemetery. It still exists, by the way, through the dense foliage, one can see some graves, at the intersection of the rue des Poitreaux and the rue du Marquis de Radiolle.

Protestant enclosures

After the revolution, Protestant cemeteries were again adorned with steles and tombstones.

Some families still retained a plot of land to bury their dead. Many small family cemeteries and enclosures would still be present in the city.

One is found in front of the Luneray temple. In Gruchet-Saint-Siméon, one is also seen at the intersection of Rue du Coudray and Rue du Temple.

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