Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cold and Dissolutioned

The last time we visited Rievaulx Abbey, a Cistercian monastery near Helmsley, North Yorkshire - it was one of the hottest days I can ever remember. One had to literaly seek the ornate shadows cast around this magnificent 12th Century ruin* to escape the rare, blistering rays of which England seems to experience so little of these days. Despite the illusion created above by the azure canvas enveloping the stark Yorkshire sandstone, today was bitterly cold. One can only sympathise with the Brothers as they slaved over their scriptures dressed only in their coarse robes by the light of tallow lamps with a Godless draught nipping at their cassocks!

The cold eventually took its toll and we seated ourselves on a wooden bench inside the roofless presbytery and took respite in a flask of hot chocolate and digestive biscuits. As we mused at the grandeur of the myriad arches, gargoyles and majestic pillars around us I happened to glance at my watch - it was exactly midday. I took the following two photographs in sequence with perhaps only a few seconds between them.....

Whatever one's religeous persuasion one cannot fail to admire the ingenuity and devotion of those long departed brothers. Quiet echoes of study, chant and prayer still seem to emanate from the cold stone of Rievaulx. There are many inscriptions still to be found hewn into the stones around the Abbey, some may be medieval graffiti, indeed some may have been from the brothers themselves..." Lord Give me hot chocolate and biscuits..."?

*Courtesy Henry VIII 1538