Religious heritage, Land of Culture, Millennial Land

Monastery of Santo André de Ancede

Although its foundation date has not been identified, it is known that in 1120 this Monastery belonged to the Diocese of Porto through its connection to the Order of the Augustinian Canons. In 1141, D. Afonso Henrique sold the Couto letter (granting immunity to royal power) to the abbot of the Monastery for 150 morabitinos. In 1560, it was attached to the Convent of Saint Dominic in Lisbon by decision of Pope Pius IV. In the 18th Century, various buildings were built and still distinguish this architectonical set: the barns and wine cellar, the octagonal Chapel of Our Lord of BomDespacho and, probably, the fountain. At the beginning of the 19th Century, the Monastery was sold at a public auction to the Barron of Ancede.

Monastery of Ancede

From the XII at the end of the century. XIV

The first document referencing the Monastery of Saint Andrew of Ancede bears the date 1120, having obviously been issued before the foundation, and reports on its acceptance by the Order of the Augustine Canons. From 1123, at the hand of Calisto II, it is connected to the Church of Porto.

Today, only some walls and the rose window remain of the early Monastery, with a thick torus on the outside, bordered by two small plinths and one pearled rim from the 8th Century (BARROCA, 1984, 129).

King Afonso Henrique passed the Couto letter (granting immunity to royal powers) to the Monastery in 1141 for 150 morabitinos. From the space being passed on we can see that it was already a property of considerable dimensions at local level (with approx. 16 km2), but still far from the economic importance it was to gain during the entire Early Medieval Period. This economic growth came with a systematic expansion of its lands, gained through the acquisition and use of new properties, significant donations, battering and leasing. The economic use of this heritage was first achieved through leasing and, in a second phase, through a commitment to trading wine at a large scale. These strategies were built on the bet placed on wine as it was already a profitable product back then. The properties were farmed by tenants, who were made to abide by somehow strict agricultural contracts, imposing the intensive growth of wine, the techniques to be used and even the winemaking steps. The growing production of the wine facilitated the integration of the Monastery of Ancede in the trade circuits of the Douro, mostly channelled to the city of Porto.

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This trading process was aided by the profits gained from wine sales, as during the 1300s, the Monastery of Ancede already benefited from its location close to Porto, releasing it from having to request permission to export the wine, leave 1/3 of the production for export and from being obliged to sell in the city. This short and long-distance trade justified the use of and was aided by the urban buildings in the city of Porto, the cellars and warehouses that the Monastery owned in Gaia and Porto as well as by the high-sided ships navigated by the seafarers of Porto from the 15th Century onwards. The leases and taxes were always paid in wine and not money. The production of wine as well as the services rendered by the tenants were passed on to larger properties (the so-called granjas, Portuguese for farms), such as Ermêlo or Quintela, which were equipped with specialised tools and facilities for the production and storage of wine and other products (grain, fruit, olive oil, cattle, honey, game and fish products).

The economic growth of the monastery had allowed for an expansion of the lands by the end of the Medieval Age from Baião to MesãoFrio, with extension to Penaguião, Cárquere (Resende) and Lamego and some properties in Trás-os-Montes, and particularly in the Beira region, besides the real estate in Gaia and Porto mentioned above and several fisheries along the river Douro. The profits of the wine trade also allowed for various upgrades and beautification constructions to be performed within the premises of the monastery itself. Others were performed due to events such as the fire of 1355, which destroyed “the dormitory and the houses around it, the refectory, garderobe and patio. It is also known that in 1363 the repair works had not yet been concluded.

From the 15th Century to our days

In the second half of the 16th Century, the monastery was going through a period of decadence, noticeable through the reduced number of monks living there and with the administration of its heritage being assigned to a clergyman. In 1560, by request of Catherine of Austria, then the ruler of the reign, Papa Pius IV instructed the annexation of the Monastery of Ancede by the Convent of Saint Dominic of Lisbon. However, the Monastery continued to produce quality wine, which was send by sea to the parent house in Lisbon (BARROS, 1998). It was in the 1500s that the premises of the Monastery were beautified with several works of art. Notably the beautiful Flemish triptych by Joos van Cleve from 1530 (LORENA, 2016).

In the 17th Century, larger renovation works were carried out with the replacement of the two churches, which were part of the Monastery, by a new building of three aisles with three adorned chapels and a new chancel, and finished in 1689 (Book 3529, folio 43 verse and folio 44, from 1746). This description matches the current aspect of the church of Ancede. The church of the Parish was made up of two aisles, which suggests a smaller size. The enclosure of the Convent of Ancede too is probably from the 17th Century as in a document, reference is made to the convent in 1692 as already being fully “enclosed by a wall” (Book 3529, folio 45, from 1746).

In the 18th Century, the Convent of Ancede must have continued living a period of economic expansion, as large renovation works were carried out then, such as the construction of the barns and the cellar (in 1722), the construction of the Senhor do BomDespacho Chapel in 1731 and finally the northern gate in 1735, a gate which closes this set by having been fitted to one of the walls of the chapel and the barn. However, the record on the Church, convent and enclosure dated 1745 mention that the tower was in danger of collapsing and was therefore partially demolished. The west wing is considered to be very old, dating back to the times of the canons. This is where the 6-cell bookstore was located.

The south wing is described as being the new wing, housing the “de profundiz” hall, the refectory and the storage from east to west on the lower floor. On the upper level are the barbershop and 3 cells, one of which was used by the priests “in charge”. In the east wing is the chapter house, the cell of the attorneys general and two further cells. That document describes the enclosed cloister “with a shed” all around, with the exception of the north side (church), supported by stone pillars. The pavement is described as being made of soil with tombs next to the sacristy and the church.

The Casa da Hospedaria and the Casa dos Moços correspond, broadly, to the building which was formerly used as the house of the housekeeper. In the 18th Century, it was a larger building, proven by excavations carried out in 2005, where the outer limit was found to be further south from the current outer wall. Next to this house, going east, by the fountain, was the building housing the wine press and oven, which closed off the patio with their porches.

With the eviction of the religious orders in Portugal during the 1st half of the 19th Century, the Monastery was sold at a public auction to the Barron of Ancede, who built a college for girls on its premises. His coat of arms is still visible on the front of the north gate. As the Church and the Chapel where excluded from this sales process, they were returned to the Parish in 1932.

Some thoughts on the architectonic set of Ancede 

From the quoted article by Amândio Barros we can deduce that this Monastery underwent several works and improvements over the two Centuries and which this historian elaborated on. However, the architectonic history of this important building and all the annexed structures still requires further explanation. The exterior of the Church seems to have been built in the architectonic style known as “plain architecture”, characterised by a bare decoration, quadrangular volumetry and a restrained and rigorous geometry, which fits well with classic styles, as is the case of the Renaissance, Mannerism and, later, the Neoclassicism. This plane style expressed itself in Portugal from the end of the 16th Century and lasted up until the end of the 17th Century.

Though built at a later stage, the building of the barn, the fountain and the north gate seem to follow the same style. This can be sign of a survival of these styles at the beginning of the 18th Century. The effort of keeping the symmetry of the façade of the large building of the barn should also be noted. This symmetry was achieved by placing pilasters, regardless of the internal division created in the shell of the building. The barns display the date of 1722, the octagonally shaped Senhor do BomDespacho Chapel was built later in 1731 and the gate, closing off this entire set of buildings, attached to the Chapel and the large building, which will have worked as a warehouse, displays the date 1735 as well as the coat of arms of the Barron of Ancede. The restrained style of the outside of the octagonal Chapel lies in stark contrast with the decoration of its inside, where the baroque style prevails.

Although the portal was built shortly after the barn, by being attached to the outside wall of the façade of that building, it disturbs its interpretation as it disrupts the symmetry and the geometric rigour of its construction. Based on the above, in our view, this style is sustained in Ancede in the early 18th Century, in particular concerning the decoration of the façades, as they have the same type of spires, the pilasters and the volutes as the ones also found on the Church of Ancede, concluded in 1689.

Judging by its decoration, but also the place it was built on, the fountain must have been built at around the same time. All these buildings, the barn, the cellar, the fountain and the chapel were certainly build based on an all-encompassing project, as its layout required a sectioning of the site, an excavation to the east. At the same time, the excavation grounded the level between this set and the Church and east wing of the Monastery, which are set into a significantly lower allotment. This grounding required the construction of a supporting wall by the east wing, which ended up covering the windows of the current sacristy of the Church.

The Senhor do BomDespacho Church, located on the same level as the Church, was then build against this supporting wall.

BARROS, Amandio (1998). The patrimony of the Monastery of Ancede in the Middle Ages (12th-14th centuries). In. Minutes of the Colloquium "Serra da Aboboreira and the Douro region. Archeology and Nature. Values ​​to be enhanced ", ed. policeman., Baião.
BARROCA, Mário Jorge (1984), Notes on the medieval occupation in Baião, Archeology, 10, 129.
BAIÃO MUNICIPAL CHAMBER, Municipal Director Plan. Descriptor of Cultural Heritage, ed. policeman., Baião.
LORENA, Mercês. (2016). Triptych of the Master of Ancede. In. Joel Ferreira Mata, Baião: Around the year 1500. (pp. 70-74). Couple of Cambra: Kaleidoscope.
PEREIRA, Fernando António Baptista (1992), History of Portuguese Art. Modern Period (1500-1800). (pp. 42-92). Lisbon: Open University.

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