Friday, January 14, 2011

Malmesbury, UK

Christmas in Malmesbury, England

Long rows of ancient stone cottages, all connected at the hip along very narrow streets which all lead to a huge pile known as the Malmesbury Abbey. One of the oldest villages in England, home to its first King.  Here's a link to the Wikipedia page for Malmesbury-
Turner sketched here. The Normans conquered the place in the 1000'sAD. The first Monastery was founded by the Benedictines in the 600'sAD. Despite its age, there is a very active community here and even  though the County Government apparently has most of the control, the locals have managed to put quite a bit of land in conservation easement to protect the vistas and farmland. The inner shops are also very well stocked and lively. The Highway managed to avoid coming close to the town so it's very quiet and unhurried. WOMAD, a large world music festival is held here each year which I'm sure livens up the place.The Cotswold's are close by.
Looking here at the south tower of the Abbey which collapsed in a storm during the 1500's. There is still quite a bit left of a very beautiful and old church in use but the original structure was about five times the current size. I attended a Midnight Christmas Eve service here but missed the Champagne service they held the next morning. To the left is reputed to be the oldest hotel in England. It was the original guesthouse for the Monastery.
West tower that blew over in a storm in the mid 1500's  I believe. There are still holes where cannon balls hit during the Civil War in the 1600's.

Here's a link to the Wikipedia site for the abbey-

These carvings at the Abbey on each side of the entrance are considered the finest existing examples of Norman art in England.

While degraded somewhat by the fact that the Church was used to store gunpowder during the Civil War, and the pollution in the air doesn't help, this entry is still a marvel created by the Normans.

 Yes, there was a very blue sky in England this day. It was also very cold and snow had fallen-the rivers were frozen over for the first time that anyone there could remember. I heard concerns about the Gulf Stream currents slowing down and causing the UK to turn considerably colder. The ducks were not sure what to do with themselves and the ice. The Queen's swans were fine.

See the Windsor Post for more about the Queen's swans.

More Norman artwork. Note the very old doors, while not in use, still hang. Here's a closer view of it.

 More doors of Malmesbury.

The old mill Turner sketched-still standing.
 Roof drain on the Abbey.

Another roof drain.

Oozing with charm.

Old mill turned into housing.

Typical street.

Around town are these plates depicting the location of the original Medieval gates. Some of the original stone wall that surrounded the town is still in use today.

A piece of random Norman arch that was apparently moved here and used to build this house many hundreds of years ago. Next stop-Oxford.

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