April 7, 2016

Some Quiet Contemplation

After about nine days of running around, I was ready to be quiet before heading to spend the weekend with my cousins. I knew that the perfect place for this was the incredible Tewkesbury Abbey in the small town of the same name.Tewkesbury Abbey (2)

The former Benedictine Abbey is now a parish church, and the building of this Norman-style church started in 1102! The stone was brought over from Normandy and floated up the nearby Severn River. Just think of that for a moment. The idea that the people who started building places like this knew they would never see it finished awes me. What a leap of faith.

Tewkesbury Abbey (8)

When I arrived, the Good Friday services were still going on, so this gave me some time to walk around the perimeter of this church and see familiar spots. My family had spent a summer in this town and the abbey was right around the corner from our house. Tewkesbury Abbey (7)Tewkesbury Abbey (9)Tewkesbury Abbey (13)

The abbey is so massive that it’s hard to photograph the entire thing from the ground. That’s the Severn River in the background. Tewkesbury Abbey (20)The front of the church gives a good idea of the scale of the place. Tewkesbury Abbey (11)Tewkesbury Abbey (12)

There are so many details in the stone-work, and it takes a few minutes to start seeing them.Tewkesbury Abbey (16)

It’s when you enter the abbey, you really feel the scale of the space. Tewkesbury Abbey (73)Tewkesbury Abbey (23)Tewkesbury Abbey (24)

There are side chapels and niches that hold sarcophagi, including this one where someone left a gift bag for their ancestor.Tewkesbury Abbey (49)

The abbey had been stripped of all the Lenten finery until Easter, Tewkesbury Abbey (29)Tewkesbury Abbey (36)and a massive stone, along with carvings and pieces from the abbey were set up to mimic the tomb. Tewkesbury Abbey (57)

I can’t tell you how much I loved the non-traditional colours of these stained glass windows. Tewkesbury Abbey (35)

While the abbey is Norman-style, you can see the Victorian updates, especially in the floor tiles,
Tewkesbury Abbey (38) Tewkesbury Abbey (39)

and the massive furnaces that attempted to warm the huge space.Tewkesbury Abbey (22)

I just loved the way the afternoon light filtered through the windows and reflected onto the walls and into the niches. Tewkesbury Abbey (47)Tewkesbury Abbey (48)

I stopped for a quiet moment to think about my father and light a candle in his memory. He loved this abbey and went to services there when we lived in the town. They had actually extinguished all of the candles for Good Friday, but the vicar made sure there was one for me to light. Tewkesbury Abbey (46)

In the walls surrounding the abbey, you can see fragments of stone from the building being recycled. I had remembered seeing these, and made a point to find them.

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Soon enough, it was time to leave and meet up with my cousins and have a pub night with their friends.

Tewkesbury Abbey (71)Tewkesbury Abbey (76)

A couple of quick pictures later, and I was off, my soul quieted and my mind set on making the most of the last five days of the trip. It was just what I needed.

15 comments:

  1. I can feel the serenity from here Meg!

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  2. When I saw your photo of the memorial stone, it instantly brought to mind a visit to Westminster Abbey in London. My daughter and I were intrigued by the interesting memorial floor plaques honoring famous people from all walks of life. At one point, we noticed large bouquets of flowers atop one plaque, the only flowers placed on any plaque. When we approached and looked at the name under all the flowers, we were not surprised to see the name "Charles Dickens".

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    1. You always see random flower at Westminster. It's fun to see who they're for.

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  3. What a nice, contemplative way to spend Good Friday. The detailed images in your photos were so amazing. Hard to fully grasp the degree of dedication and craftsmanship that was necessary to erect the Abbey. Thank you for the tour!

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  4. What a lovely post. I too could feel the serenity. There's nothing quite like an English abbey or cathedral, with its dramatic size accompanied by small details like the light through stained glass in a side chapel, or the gift bag you saw on the tomb. You have a good eye, Meg. Really enjoy your blog! Best, Elisabeth from northern Illinois

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    1. I always think that it's sunny early in the day on Good Friday, and then in the afternoon, it gets overcast. Then brightens again. You can see that in the pictures. I was luck with the light when I took these pix.

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  5. And I forgot to include the Robert Browning quote I double-checked for my comment above: "Oh, to be in England now that April's there." I know you wrote this in March, given our early Easter this year, but the idea is there! Best again, Elisabeth from northern Illinois

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    1. Absolutely! The light and clouds are always impressive... as were the daffodils which were everywhere!

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  6. Meg, what a lovely trip. Thanks for sharing your photos. I love England and visit there often. Last Spring in Oxfordshire, this summer Wessex and the Isle of Wight. Judith from California

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    1. Oxfordshire is great. Very central to a lot of things.

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  7. Just saw this on the T&C website and thought of your recent post on Portmerion. Here's a new project for you!


    http://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/news/a5668/an-entire-english-village-is-up-for-sale/

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  8. Hi Meg, Your thoughts inspire me. A candle for your father--so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. xoxo Mary

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