Been very absent from this blog for a while. School holidays, family visits… no time to write or edit, just coasting.
I’m posting up some photos of my two favourite abbeys, both ruins, of course, because Henry VIII had them destroyed in the 1540s. Such a pity not to have the foresight to imagine a future when people might stand in awe at the magnificence of early architecture. These two Cistercian monasteries were once thriving centres with monks, lay people and visitors. Now, they are quiet reminders of a way of life no longer practised and hauntingly devoid of substance beyond their crumbling walls.
Rievaulx is in a small valley, off the beaten track, harder to find and compact in scale. The remaining arches topple over each other in an attempt to reach the sky. A blue sky day for us and it was very tranquil, calming.
Fountains Abbey is part of a world heritage site. Larger in scale and with a grand bell tower built not long before the reformation and destruction of the monastic orders in England. The dormitories, which are part of the cellarium, are still intact with beautiful vaulted ceilings. How my camera turned this gloomy place golden in nature is peculiar. I don’t think it was down to the flash, just how the light bounced around the ceiling.
I don’t have a favourite, they are both divine to visit and behold, capturing a moment in the past. If Henry hadn’t destroyed them… perhaps England might be still Catholic and these abbeys might have survived into modern times, like the cathedrals found in cities. A lot of what ifs. The monastic way of life disappeared for centuries and only now can be found in isolated priories, one of which is close to where I grew up and is another hidden sanctuary, tucked out of sight behind walls. We could do with more of these kind of places in our hectic lives, then I might sit there with pen and paper and write.
I agree that Fountains Abbey is wonderful. I’ve been many times, most of them taking school children round on our way uo to Hadrian’s Wall. I’ve never been to Rievaulx, but if you say it’s just as interesting and lovely as Fountains, Perhaps I will do, sometime soon.