Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Abby's and history

In the last two weeks . . . .

1. My auntie Joan has taught me how to knit ( my mother tried but I was never really very good) - now I can even fix my own mistakes. Although knitting scarves is not exactly difficult!

2. My dad's cousin Joe gave me a family bible that dates back to the 1800's - although it very heavy so I am hoping Sean can take it home for me!

3. Oxford university brought Sean over to do a presentation so he is coming to auntie Joan's for a couple of nights. Such a nice surprise.

4. I learned, during the war, my dad usually did not get out of bed when the air raid sirens would go off and the rest of the family headed for the evacuation shelters (sounds like something his grandson Aaron would do). In one instance when returning to the house after the bombing my grandmother discovered the bathroom had been fire bombed and there was a fire bomb in the chimney - all happened while my dad was still sleeping in bed. They had to get my dad up and walk about 5 miles at 3 o'clock in the morning to extended family for shelter as they were not allowed to go back to their home for several weeks.

We visited the town of Glastonbury today. It is a town of 8700 people in Somerset. Glastonbury has been described as a New Age community which attracts people with New Age and Neopagan beliefs, and is notable for myths and legends often related to Glastonbury Tor, concerning Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and King Arthur. In some Arthurian literature Glastonbury is identified with the legendary island of Avalon. Joseph is said to have arrived in Glastonbury and stuck his staff into the ground, when it flowered miraculously into the Glastonbury Thorn.

There are numerous mystical and myth stores with lots of references to witches and magic. Walking around the town one cannot miss the interesting attire of the residents. They are definitely from the mystical, hippie era (whenever that was) actually some of these outfits would make great Halloween costumes. They are obviously crazy about their dogs. Dogs in museums, stores and restaurants. In fact we had to move a dog off the lounge in a restaurant so we could sit - at least they let us move the dog and we did not have to sit on the floor.


Now among all this myths and mystical ambience is the remains of the Glastonbury Abbey built in 720. The ruins of this abbey are set among noble trees and well-kept lawns and are all that remain of one of the greatest monasteries of medieval England. When the abbey was dissolved in 1539 the buildings were stripped and walls left to neglect for 350 years. Much of the town is built of stone from the ruins.



One of the graves on the property is believed to have been that of King Arthur. From the ruins it is easy to see the abbey was a massive building - this abbey was second in England in size and wealth next to Westminster Abbey. The head of the Abbey (the abbot) lived in considerable splendor and wielded tremendous power. The medieval abbey was an economic unit with its manors and other possessions supplying much of the needs of the greater community. I highly doubt any of the buildings erected today will survive over 1000 years - it is difficult to imagine how such amazing structures were built mostly by hand with a few primitive tools.


In 1536 the 27th year of the reign of Henry VII there were 800 monasteries, nunneries and friaries in Britain. By 1541 there were none. Over 10,000 monks and nuns had been dispersed; the buildings seized by the Crown and sold off or leased to new lay occupiers. It seems the reason for this was financial as Henry's coffers were depleted.

Below are some pictures of the beautiful grounds belonging to the abbey.








The abbey kitchen is still standing.









I am what you would call a gentry!








Some magnificent windows!

Me and my new boyfriend (who said I would never find a man)!

Abbey entrance

Next it was off to Sherborne town and Abbey. Sherborne is a market town in northwest Dorset with a population of 9300. Sherborne is famous for its historic buildings, including its abbey, a manor house, its famous independent schools, and two castles (the 'old castle' ruins of a 12th century fortified palace, and a 'new' 16th century mansion, known as Sherborne Castle, built by Sir Walter Raleigh). Much of the old town, including the abbey and many medieval and Georgian buildings, is built from the distinctive ochre-coloured ham stone.












The Sherborne Abbey dates back to 705AD. Sir Walter Raleigh worshipped here. Unlike any other abbey I have seen it is not in ruins, this one is in extremely good conditions. It is very grand and well maintained complemented by incredible stained glass windows. In 1998 the Queen and duke of Edinburgh attended a service here.







Magnificent organ

Well it has come time for me to leave Somerset and go back to southampton. Joe and Janet have been fabulous hosts and have taken me to areas in England that I have not seen before. Yes I ticked another item off the bucket list - Stonehenge. Thanks joe and Janet for the fabulous food from haggis to three bird roast (a combo of turkey , chicken and duck). They have spoiled me ! Ain't family great!


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