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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travels with Victoria: The Gardens of Westminster Abbey

On Sunday, June 12, 2011, on a  rainy day, I decided to attend services at the Abbey in advance of my visits to the gardens of the area.  Since it was a sung service, the Abbey was crowded with tourists and worshippers alike. Did you know that the official name for the Abbey is the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster, and it is classified as a "Royal Peculiar."  Here is the website.


  The beauty of the choral works and the magnificence of the organ were every bit as impressive as they were the previous month at the royal wedding. The morning's sermon was excellent, delivered by The Venerable Jane Hedges, cannon of the Abbey. She was kind enough to explain to me later that the "Venerable" in her title is just a traditional term for her office, not descriptive!    


At the conclusion of the service, the Abbey bells performed a long peal ( I think that is the proper term; for more info click here).  The beautiful bells accompmanied most of my ramble around the Abbey Gardens, all open for the Open Squares Weekend, 2011. 


 The College Garden, according to the Abbey Garden brochure, "Is reputed to be the oldest in England and was originally an isolated piece of land inside the Thames called 'Thorney Island'....


"...After the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, it became an area of recration for the clergy. In more recent years, an attempt has been made to acknowledge the Garden's original use by planting vegetables, herbs and fruit trees."


From the College Garden, the Abbey is right next door, and the bells were continuing with great beauty.




Above, St. Catherine's Garden includes the ruins of the Chapel of St. Catherine, built in the 12th century, once the  abbey infirmary.


The Little Cloister provided peaceful silence and respite for the monks, now perhaps the most visited of the Abbey Gardens, for it is often open when the others are not.

Sadly, I did not wander much further since the rain continued. I was also eager to get to my next stop, the Queen's Gallery, for an exhibition honoring the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Regency in 1811, coming soon.

2 comments:

Louisa Cornell said...

The acoustics in the Abbey are amazing - a singer's dream!

The gardens are lovely. Thank you for the fantastic photos. And the rain actually makes me homesick for England, my second home!

Jo Manning said...

My son-in-law Mark's late father, Tony Winterbotham, was a longtime canon at Portsmouth Cathedral!