|Lavender blue dilly, dilly... Relaxing in the Lander Garden at Buckfast Abbey.|
I seem to have been a very sporadic blogger this year. In fact, sporadic is a bit of an understatement – non-existent is nearer the mark. Anyway, I thought I would share some pictures on Saturday Snapshot, though it's a long time since I've posted anything. These were taken during a visit to Devon a couple of weeks back. Not Plymouth this time, where our Elder Daughter lives, but Paignton. We wanted to explore a different part of the county, so we treated ourselves to a package coach trip/weekend in a hotel. Stupidly, on the Saturday I let the Man of the House persuade me to join a trip across Dartmoor, which turned out to be a Big Mistake for a Bad Traveller like me… Besides, Dartmoor can only be fully appreciated when you’re walking.
We stopped briefly at Princetown, the small village where the prison is, and there was another stop at Tavistock, which had a fabulous market with crafts and books and suchlike, and looked a really nice little town – just my sort of place! But we weren’t there all that long, and I was just beginning to feel better when it was back on the coach again, and off we headed for an unscheduled surprise location, and all I wanted was fresh air, ground under my feet, and not to move!
But the journey was worth it, because this is where we ended up:
Buckfast Abbey has to be one of the nicest places I’ve ever been, providing balm for body and soul. It is magical, really, really beautiful, and so tranquil and soothing. It’s a modern building but, unlike most 20th century cathedrals (Coventry, for example), it looks old – as we walked towards the entrance I thought it was Medieval Gothic, cleaned up and restored, although the MOTH felt the two types of stone used meant it was more likely to be ‘new’. But we agreed it has to be the most incredible architectural feats we’ve come across, built by just six monks, only one of whom had experience as a mason, in 31 years. I think that is so amazing. It is the most stupendous achievement, and whether or not you’re religious you have to admire the faith, skill, energy and sheer hard work of that group of men who turned their dream into reality.
|Another view of the Abbey.|
|I just love this doorway - it is so ornate.|
In the centuries that followed, the Abbey Church and most of the monastic buildings fell into decay, but a few were put to other uses – for instance the guest house complex was turned into a farm and cottages, and wool was dyed in the almshouses.
|Inside... I think the arches and the ceiling are lovely.|
|Arches and windows.|
Most amazing of all are the stained glass windows. The ones in the main part of the church are beautifully traditional, based on those at Cathedrals in Canterbury and Chartres. Then you walk into the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and it’s something else altogether. It’s like entering another world. Ahead of you is wall of blue glass fragments, forming a giant picture, Jesus at the Last Supper, with light pouring through, and it is truly, truly awe inspiring. And when you turn around there are other windows, in other colours, in abstract designs, and the whole thing just takes your breath away. You seem to be surrounded by colour and light, and it is so modern, and such a contrast to the rest of the building. The Buckfast website acknowledges this difference, saying:“In contrast to the rest of the Abbey, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel brings a touch of modern. After the main church was completed, the chapel was added to provide a place for quiet prayer, especially during the summer months when thousands of people visit the church daily. The splendid stained glass windows depicting Christ at the Last Supper, were designed and made in the Abbey’s workshops by the monks.”
|A wall of glass: Jesus at the Last Supper in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. |
(Pic courtesy of the ?Buckfast Abbey website)
While downloading some other pictures from my camera, I just found this, showing the above window from the outside - for some reason it didn't get downloaded with everything else. Anyway, the contrast between colourful interior and dull exterior is so great I felt I had to add the photo to this post - it shows a kind of transformation between the outer and inner picture.
|That insignificant looking square on the left of the building is the outside of|
that incredible stained glass window, though you would never know when you
view it from outside - the glass needs natural light pouring through to bring it to life.
|Stained glass windows in the main part of the church.|
According to a leaflet I bought, all the windows were made by the monks, under the guidance of the late Father Charles Norris, who trained at the Royal College of Arts, and developed new techniques in this ancient art. The monks’ work is so highly acclaimed that they have produced stained glass windows for churches all over the world, as well as a memorial in New York dedicated to the firemen who died in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre.
|A peaceful spot in the gardens.|
The gardens that surround the Church are lovely but, sadly, we didn't have time to wander round the Sensory Garden and a Physic Garden. But we sat in the Lavender Garden for a while, enjoying the perfume from some 150 varieties of the plant – I had no idea there so many different types of lavender! It was a warm, sunny day, and there were still a few bees around, even though it is late in the season. According to another leaflet I bought during our visit, the ‘Buckfast Bees’ bred here are much sought after because they are good honey producers, and disease resistant.
We’d hoped to have tea and cake in the restaurant, but there was no time for that either (that’s the problem with coach trips, you’re on a strict timetable). But it’s easy to get there from Plymouth, so we can return and explore at our leisure – and make sure we have time for afternoon tea!
To see more Saturday Snapshot photos, or to participate, go on over to West Metro Mummy