Category: Churches and Cathedrals

Christmas Day in pics

On Christmas Day we had spectacular weather after weeks of cloud and rain and misery. Granted, it was about 7 degrees, but the sun was shining and the wind had stopped and I grabbed my camera and headed out to take some pics. Town was deserted. 

Fortunately the current crop of floods are abating somewhat. On Saturday I had gone walkies and took a look at the water levels around us and things were not looking too good. This is the Severn looking towards the Mythe water works. 

(1500 x 435)

The pano above was taken on Saturday and is looking towards Bredon Hill across the waters from the Avon/Severn confluence.  Fortunately that water is subsiding and hopefully will remain low. As an aside, just think how fertile that soil must be.  Back in Town I headed towards the Abbey because it is always spectacular. Alas, the floods have cut off parts in that area too.  The area where the small white building is is the cricket pitch and the only game that can be there now is water polo. Howzat?

A few steps away is the parking lot for the Abbey and you can get some wonderful shots of it from this area.

The Abbey was unaffected by the 2007 floods, but you can bet that in its almost 900 years of existence it has seen a lot of water surrounding it.  There is a really huge tree in it’s grounds too that is a definite favourite of mine.  It must be really old and who knows how much it has seen. 

I went into the Abbey and had a quick walk around. The Christmas service was starting at 10.30 till 12.00 but I had a full bladder and no reading glasses so did not stay for it. But while I was there the choir was singing and the organ was making sweet thunderous music. Light was streaming into the east facing windows and it was very special. The pews were filling quite quickly too and on my way back home I saw lots of people heading towards it to attend the service.

Behind the High Altar was a nativity scene and the light was shining on it and it was very apt for a Christmas Day. Unfortunately I cropped the image badly and could not replicate the shot from other positions. 

Leaving the warmth and solidity of that ancient church I headed along the Mill Avon towards town. The deep shadows and bright patches made photography difficult, but there was a peaceful air about this part of the river.

The old mill and Victoria Gardens were under water once again, and the boats moored alongside were riding at pavement level. One boat caught my eye, the name board proclaiming it to be “Thunderchild” and immediately I thought about Jeff Waynes War of the World’s

“Thunderchild”

The Invaders must have seen them
As across the coast they filed
Standing firm between them
There lay Thunder Child.

I would have that piece of music going around inside my head for the rest of the day. In one of the alleys I came across this magnificent gate and that really wrapped up my photography for the day and I turned my bows towards home.

Break had a nice display of vintage toys and I paused for a pic…  Children are really the ones who enjoy the season the most, but alas Christmas has lost the magic and has become a commercialised monstrosity. 

Apart from food Christmas was done and dusted for another year. You can bet that Boxing day will be in its last throes and they will be putting out the Valentines Days goodies, although in South Africa it is more about “Back to School” instead,  and we all know how kids enjoy that too… NOT!

DRW © 2019-2020. Created 26/12/2019.  
Thunder Child lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songwriters: Jeff Wayne / Gary Osbourne.
Updated: 15/02/2020 — 08:57

Requiem Eucharist

In Memory of Olive and David Walker. 

By some quirk of fate I spotted a post about a Requiem Mass to be held at Tewkesbury Abbey on the 3rd of November. I had been wanting to attend a service at the Abbey for quite some time and never really managed to do so until tonight. It is possible that I was supposed to do this as part of the grieving process and that was why I saw the post. At any rate I was there at 4.35pm to participate in the service. 

The Abbey is a different place at night, it is well lit and cloudy with incense smoke but still as beautiful as ever. The image was taken long before everybody had arrived though, it is not that the Abbey was empty, it is just that it has a lot of space. 

I love the sound of those large organs and the soaring voices of the choir. The music on this evening was by Gabriel Faure who completed it in 1887 and is sometimes known as “A Requiem Without a Last Judgement”.  

I was raised an Anglican and somewhere in the dusty mists of my mind is the Communion Service; I had last taken Communion in 1993, and even then I somehow knew most of it by heart. I suspect the service is one of those familiar things that lives in you but which comes forward when the organ bursts into life. 

I was not only remembering my mother at this time, but also my father who passed away on 7 November 1981. They have finally been re-united after so many long years and I am glad that we were at least able to place her ashes where his are interred. 

Once the prayers had been read we were able to take communion at the Altar rail. I have been in so many of these cathedrals and abbeys that the altar rail does not hold that sense of awe as it did when I was confirmed way back in 1974 or 1975? (I must look it up). The ceremony in these churches follows and age old ritual and coming from South Africa I could easily follow it as it was literally the same service. Once Communion was taken the opportunity was given for members of the congregation to light a candle in memory of those who had passed on. I had lit one before the service started but had also lit one on the 6th of last month. 

And then we were finished and the procession filed out and so did the congregation. I felt better having done this, and I would like to attend another service at the Abbey when I can, I have not found religion, its just that I am still working through closure, its just part of the process. 

DRW © 2019. Created 03/11/2019

Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:21

Visiting the Bard: Stratford-upon-Avon (2)

Continuing where we left off in Stratford-upon-Avon.

I was ready to leave the area of the Holy Trinity Church, and was very impressed with the church. The churchyard was quite a nice one too and I would have liked to have spent more time in it. 

The one guide at the church  had advised me to look for the Guild Chapel in town as it was an interesting place, so with vague directions I retraced my steps to Bancroft Gardens. It was a hot day and there was a lot of activity on the Avon.

and there was even a chain drawn ferry…

I crossed over back into the craziness of streets and headed down a picturesque street, randomly taking photographs of the buildings.

And then I spotted a likely candidate and headed across to it. 

The Guild Chapel was light and airy but there was a small party of people in the middle of the aisle talking to a guide and I was not able photograph the interior the way I wanted to.

I poked around, hoping to find a leaflet or pamphlet to understand the context but did not find one. However, the internet has come to my rescue:

Founded by the Guild of the Holy Cross before 1269, it passed into the control of the town corporation in 1553, when the Guild was suppressed by Edward VI. The chapel stands on Church Street, opposite the site of William Shakespeare’s home, New Place, and has historic connections to Shakespeare’s family. The chapel was gifted an extensive series of wall-paintings by Hugh Clopton, an earlier owner of New Place, and John Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s father, undertook their defacement in the later 1500s. The paintings have recently been conserved.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild_Chapel)

“The painting above is Doom’ – a large ornate scene which can be seen above the Chancel arch. To medieval worshippers its imagery would have been immensely powerful, and it remains a striking  centrepiece today.

Doom is the Old English word for judgement and the Doom painting depicts the Last Judgement – Christ deciding the eternal destination of human lives. Doom paintings were commonplace in churches and chapels pre-Reformation; there to ensure people reflected on how they were living their lives. In the Guild Chapel’s Doom, Jesus sits on a rainbow in the centre, surrounded by four angels. Mary and St John the Baptist flank him on either side. On the left is the Kingdom of Heaven and all the good souls rising from their graves. On the right are all the sinners being tortured by demons and fed into the Mouth of Hell (depicted literally as a fanged serpentine creature which you can still clearly make out).” (Information from the Guild Chapel Website).  There was a similar painting in St Thomas and St Edmunds Church in Salisbury

It would have been interesting to hear the stories behind the paintings but it did not seem like that would be possible. Besides, it was starting to get late and I really needed to find that bus stop. 

Leaving the chapel I decided to continue with Chapel Street until I hit Bridge Street which was where the bus would stop (theoretically). Looking at Google Earth after the fact reveals that there was a lot more to see in this area so it may warrant a return trip one day.

The Falcon Inn

The Falcon Inn opened around 1655 although the building dates from 1624 and no other building in the town has had a longer continuous history as licensed premises. 

Bridge Street becomes Wood Street and I was now in the right place. It was just a matter of finding the bus stop.

And naturally at that moment the X18 Bus trundled into view and I followed it to where I had bailed out this morning. But, I was 30 seconds too slow as the bus pulled away before I reached the stop. The next bus was 13H05 and that was 30 minutes away. I decided that the time had come to hunt down a loo and take a further look around Henley Street and try solve the mystery of Shakespeare’s birthplace.

If anything the area was even more crowded and that image of the house evaded me. The building below is the Shakespeare Centre, and there did not seem to be a way to find out what went on in it without forking over at least £17.50. I gave it a miss, maybe next time.

It was time to hit the bus stop. If all went well I would only just be able to make my bus in Evesham without a long wait. However, the bus was 8 minutes late and then we got stuck in a traffic jam in Evesham for 10 minutes. By the time I got to my bus stop the bus had left 18 minutes ago and I was stuck till the next bus which left 45 minutes later. Such are the vagaries of of public transport.

Stratford-upon-Avon was in the bag and it had been an interesting morning. Return trip? maybe; there are quite a few other places in the town that I would like to look at, and of course there is that War Memorial in Bidford. It is do-able so one day there may be a “Return to” post.  Total image count was 336, and some more are reproduced in the random image collection below.

DRW © 2019. Created 14/09/2019

Updated: 04/12/2019 — 20:22
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