A unique architectural principle

Built in the first third of the XVI century, the House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’ bears witness to an architectural principle that is unique in the world, but which was widespread in Renaissance Morlaix: that of lantern houses.

The texts and documents in this section offer many keys to understanding this unique part of our heritage.


Since Prosper Mérimée visited in 1835, interior courtyards in Morlaix and their staircases were the subject of written descriptions that bore witness to the astonishment caused by this architectural principle.

We have selected five descriptions, published between 1836 and 1901. Each provides an account of the evolution of the status of the House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’ in the neighbourhood, and recounts the initial interest generated by houses in Morlaix during this period.

Each description is accompanied by an overview of the circumstances that led to the author’s interest in the heritage of Morlaix, as well as an extract of the section relating to the House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’. The complete text is also available in PDF format (in French).

In order to facilitate comprehension, two comments should first be made in relation to these five descriptions.

From the Rue des Nobles to the Rue du Mur

Up until the urban development works that began in the 1860s and significantly changed the market neighbourhood, the address of the former town house was 21, Rue des Nobles.

The demolition of the five houses situated below (formerly numbers 11 to 19), replaced by four new buildings in accordance with the alignment plan, which foresaw the demolition of the House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’, first led to it being changed to number 19.

The advent of the III Republic, which was proclaimed in 1870 and definitively established in 1879, finally did away with the overly aristocratic “Rue des Nobles”. The building therefore became number 33, Rue du Mur, which applied until the start of the 1880s only to the lower part of the current road bearing this name.

The name of the road refers to the former collegiate church, Notre-Dame du Mur, which overhung it, but was destroyed in 1806.

House known as ‘Duchess Anne’s House’ or ‘Queen Anne’s House’?

The popularity of Duchess Anne (1477-1514) explains why her name ended up being linked to numerous buildings of her former duchy, such as the Duchess Anne’s houses in Guingamp and Saint-Malo, and Duchess Anne’s Castle in Dinan.

What is special about the building in Morlaix is the existence of two names: the building is known as ‘Duchess Anne’s’ or ‘Queen Anne’s’ depending on whether people wish to remember her as ‘Duchess of the Bretons’ (inscribed on the reliquary containing her heart, in the Musée départemental Dobrée), or as two times Queen of France.



© Maison dite de la duchesse Anne - Morlaix, 2006 - info@mda-morlaix.com