A spire is an Old English term for sprout or shoot of grass, something that grows upwards, reaching for the skies. In the case of a church, it is the heavens the spire is intended to reach and for those early Christians, the height of the spire, way above their heads, must have been awe […]

‘Far from the haunt of men’ – this quote refers to the Cistercians, who broke away from the existing religious order of the Benedictines to found their own monasteries. They believed in a stricter interpretation of the Rules of St Benedictine and living apart from secular communities and their terrible temptations. Let’s face it, they […]

Since the coronation of William the Conqueror in 1066, British monarchs have been crowned in Westminster Abbey, barring two: Edward V (murdered) and Edward VIII (abdicated). The throne – King Edward’s Chair – is housed in the abbey’s St George’s Chapel ready for the next coronation. But why here at Westminster? Westminster Abbey is a […]

In 1115 a group of Augustinian canons founded a community by the River Mersey near its only crossing, known as the Runcorn Gap. They cleared the woodland, drained the land and created a moated enclosure and water courses. The site was chosen for a new priory – Norton. (For those who missed it in a […]

As I’ve been exploring the theme of abbeys and cathedrals, I can’t hope notice how many difference religious orders existed across the centuries.  Their influence on the architecture of abbeys in particular is reflected in their daily life.  So here is a run down of the key orders and something about their influence on what […]

Cathedrals and Abbeys. Today is all about the nave. The cruciform layout of a church is based on the points of the compass. The chancel, where the high altar is situated, points to the East and Jerusalem, which in Medieval times was the centre of the Earth. The north and south transepts were where chapels […]

Continuing my theme of Abbeys and Cathedrals… As the population of England grew throughout the industrial age, more and more people flocked into urban areas. The Church of England in response needed more dioceses and bishops and in turn more cathedrals  to cater for the rising population. Also to counter the popularity of non-conformist chapels […]

Not many cities can boast two cathedrals in the UK and when they do, they don’t get more impressive than Liverpool.  Liverpool, a relatively young city compared to those with Medieval origins, grew rich on trade and shipping but had no cathedral until the 20th century.  Liverpool has a diverse population that includes a large […]

Winning was a successful preacher from Ireland who built a church on the banks of the River Garnock in North Ayrshire after being revealed the site by an angel in a vision. Not entirely convinced this is how it all started, but the subsequent abbey is named after him. A Kil means ‘cell’ of the […]

Continuing my exploration of Abbeys and Cathedrals of Britain, I’m heading north of the Border to Scotland. In 9th Century Jedburgh was part of Northumbria and the town grew up around the first church, which was built there by Bishop Ecgred of Lindisfarne. King David of Scotland founded a priory in 1118 and it housed […]

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