Tag Archives: saint

Day 133

I had two new experiences yesterday, including breaking a hot water bottle. I was using it to heat my hand, and, as it wasn’t full, bent it round my hand to warm both sides. I noticed that there was a drop of water on it when I looked ten minutes later. This seemed strange, as I had been careful filling it and it was hot so any drops should have dried.

Further examination  showed that if I manipulated the bottle to apply pressure, there were six places that released about a teardrop of water. It’s not a disaster at the moment, because it doesn’t leak under normal conditions. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep knowing that it might leak. Fortunately I am only using it while I am awake and out of bed.

It’s probably a good time to buy a hot water bottle as demand in summer, even a UK summer, is likely to be low. I must seek a bargain.

It’s tempting to paint the face of a saint on the old one and try to establish myself as a site of pilgrimage as people queue to see the tears of St Kyneburgha. I know what you are all asking Saint who? She is, I admit, not the best known saint, but I grew up in the area and often walked by the church. Saints and pilgrimage have always been a cut-throat business, and all the well-known ones were snapped up years ago. The advantage to this is that my painting doesn’t have to be very good.

Even so, I’m fairly sure that the souvenir sales and cream teas should make enough to see me right as I subside into old age and it is at least as respectable as running a fake business college.

I might even end up building an airport.


Wrecks of Ornamented Stones

We gaze on wrecks of ornamented stones

John Clare, Crowland Abbey

I’ve run out of ideas for titles, so I’m drawing on the poetry of local “peasant poet” John Clare.

This is  Crowland Abbey. It’s now the parish church of the town of Crowland in south Lincolnshire but it used to be an important religious community with large property interests. This came at a price, including a Viking raid, riots and law suits (often featuring the Abbots of Spalding and Peterborough) before Henry VIII finally dissolved it in 1539. This wasn’t something unique to Henry, as other countries had also seized monastic assets, including Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland.

Having already been used as the parish church for years, parts of the building were set aside as a church, whilst the rest was demolished and reused. Sorry I can’t be more precise, but as I can’t tell a nave from a narthex I’m obviously going to have to brush up on church architecture.

The quatrefoil shows scenes from the life of St Guthlac. He was a soldier and a member of the Mercian nobility who retired to the monastery of Repton at the age of 24. Two years later, in 699, he gave up this life to live at Crowland as a hermit.  He wore skins and lived on bread and water, passed his time praying and battling demons and, eventually, died in 714.

Eventually a cult of St Guthlac developed and the abbey was built. A cynic would say that the two things were linked, as saints were big business in those days. If they could attract more people, they could attract more donations.

What is now the church was originally the north aisle. The other bits have gradually decayed, probably having suffered from Parliamentary bombardment in the siege of 1643. Oliver Cromwell is often blamed, but he wasn’t actually in command that day and as a I do feel that he gets blamed for more destruction than he actually accomplished. As it was 1720 before the nave roof actually fell in, it’s likely that time did as much damage as cannon balls. Let’s face it, the Victorians did more damage to churches than Cromwell ever did.

Despite all this, it’s still an imposing building, and much more dramatic with the ruins than it would be if it was just a neat and tidy church.