Thursday, October 23, 2014

Details in Westminster Abbey

XIV century wall paintings in the chapter house of Westminster Abbey and details of (what remains…) of the oldest altarpiece in Great Britain.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral today is the mother church of the Anglican Communion. In 597 Saint Augustine of Canterbury, sent by Pope Gregory the Great to evangelize England arrived and he was welcomed by King Ethelbert – who was married to a Christian wife. Augustin succeeded in evangelize England and the Pope approved his proposal to build a great church in that land that could bring the prestigious title of “Cathedral”. At the end of the VII century Canterbury begun the first episcopal see of England. A first Anglo-Saxon Cathedral was destroyed in 1013 by a Danish attack, while a new Norman building was erected in 1066 – in this very building Archbishop Thomas Becket was assassinated on the 29th of December of 1170  at the end of a long period of hostility with the King – the Archbishop was soon canonized in 1173, and a shrine was erected in the church, and pilgrimage begun. In 1174 a fire destroyed the building. The reconstruction of the present building was led by William of Sens who rebuilt the Cathedral in the Gothic style. During the fourteenth and fifteenth century some additions in the Perpendicular style were made, such as the great central tower. At the east end of the apse there is one last chapel, known as Becket’s Crown – it houses fine stained glasses that survived both the Reformation and the bombings of WWII.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fountains Abbey

Fountains was a Benedictine Abbey founded in 1132, after a dispute occurred in St. Mary’s Abbey in York. The Abbey was functioning until 1539 – when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries. The nave was built in the XII century and XIII century in the Norman style with stone coming from that same area. The transept and presbytery were built in the XIV and XV centuries in Early English Gothic and Perpendicular style. Fountains used to be a very rich abbey – the monks chose a very fine area to build it, literally on the river Skell. The buildings are still well maintained and the kitchens, the butteries, the Abbot’s house and even the latrines, still exist. Fountains was a self-sustaining institution – livestock and wheat were a central part of its economy, as well as fish taken from the river and beer. All monks had a right of a loaf of bread and 4 liters of beer everyday.