22.4.09

Dorchester away




THWACK! It's the cheerful slap of leather on willow as we start another cricket season. Last year was frankly miserable, weather wise, but we were blessed last Sunday with near perfect Spring weather, as we opened with a friendly match in Dorchester-on-thames. I love watching cricket, but sometimes six hours or so sat on the boundary can be a little too much. So I sloped off with my camera to investigate the village centre. Dorchester has it's very own Abbey - and on this Sunday afternoon I had the place entirely to myself. It is small, but ancient; there has been a place of worship here since Saxon times, circa 635. The first altar you see on entering, displays some rare 14th century paintings which miraculously survived Cromwell's thugs.




The floors are paved with memorials and burial stones, from the sublime -





- to the sinister...




...this one being the most heart stopping I have ever read.





'Reader! If thou has a Heart famed for Tenderness and Pity, Contemplate this Spot. In which are desposited the Remains of a Young Lady, whose artless Beauty, Innocence of Mind and gentle Manner once obtain'd her the Love and Esteem of all who knew her. But when Nerves were too delicately spun to bear the rude Shakes and Jostlings which we meet in this transitory World, Nature gave way. She sunk and died a Martyr to Excesive Sensibility. Mrs Sarah Fletcher, Wife of Captain Fletcher, departed this Life at the village of Clifton on the 7 of June 1799 in the 29 year of her age. May her Soul meet that Peace in Heaven which this Earth denied her'.


I wondered (as must have so many others) just what 'rude shakes and jostlings' the poor soul had endured, and sent her a kind thought, because she died so young and so lamented. (EDIT - I've found an almost identical photo on Flickr, with the full and tragic story, here).





Every pew displayed an exquisitely colour co-ordinated set of kneelers and the still Sunday afternoon air was drenched with the heavy scent of lilies from elaborate displays. Quietly I wandered into the Shrine Chapel, where a thirteenth century Crusader knight lies, not on his back in pious prayer, but unusally poised for battle action.





Here too is the shrine to the founder, St Birinus, with bright carvings hidden in the upper niches






The Chancel and the East window are spectacular, but too grandiose for my taste. I prefer the simplicity of stone and paint.




Outside, the sweetest of cottages, sitting slightly wonkily behind the gravestones.






I headed back to the ground, my peaceful touristing done, and returned to a rather more earthly entertainment.




As usual I came prepared with the bare necessities and some work.




It was the first properly warm day of the year and in my sheltered corner I kept half an eye on our chaps, while getting on with the penguins. We won. Andy was 57 not out. He acknowledged his half century with a modest twitch of the bat.




If only it stays this way for the rest of the season.



32 comments:

OldBagNewTricks said...

Oh My Heavens! Thank you for the tour. Here in the states "old" refers to the turn of the previous century. Nothing at all here remains from the 14th century, well, because no one was here save the Indians. The Abby and grave markers and cottage are spectacular. And I am glad to see you had such pleasant bits and bobs to entertain you during a six hour cricket game. (You know, American baseball games are about two hours -- I'm still considering whether that's a plus or a minus.)

Jenny

d. moll, l.ac. said...

"Excessive Sensibility" poor dear......What a little funny face in the saint's tomb!! I love the smell of those old abbeys and churches. Happy Spring, hope your good weather continues.

Rowan said...

This household too reveolves around the cricket season though my DH is a spectator not a player. He travels all round England watching cricket in the summer! Dorchester Abbey is beautiful, I shall be in Dorset in May so shall make sure I visit and see for myself. Those kneelers are really exquisite. And well done Andy - 57 not out is a really good start to the season for him.

Rachel said...

What a delightful post! Thank you. Those of us who like to travel vicariously enjoyed it very much.

Suze said...

It was a beautiful day, and such a beautiful way to spend it. I, like others thank you for the tour...it is a beautiful Abbey, and one I will try to explore in reality at sometime. I'm glad your sensibility was to your surroundings and not jostled as that much loved young lady's.
Though I'm not involved directly with the cricket in the village in which I live...cricket is a heartbeat in it, and congratulations for the fifty seven...a good start to the season.
Our next move hasn't that sound...but we do look over the church...

acornmoon said...

What could be lovelier than a cricket match played on a village green on perfect spring day.

I love those kneelers too.

gilflingsdesigns said...

What a find that Abbey is - just beautiful, I too love the simplicity and age of the stone. and oh be remembered in such a poetic way (althouh I will do without the 'rude shakes and jostlings' thank you very much')

I would love to take that cottage and put it in my cottage - or even live in it - yes that would do very well indeed. Glad you have been enjoying the wonderful weather!! This is probably our 'summertime'!

Frances said...

Thank you for taking me so far, far away from this city to a lovely green place.

xo

ellen said...

I have just browsed through and will be back tomorrow for a proper read.
All that I can say at this point is that your lovely pictures of such beautiful spots grant me peace right now when I need that. I'll be off to bed soon and your images will take me safely and comfortingly into the night.

Contessa Kris said...

Oh what a lovely stroll in the springtime weather. I love the church pictures and especially the wonky cottage. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

Over the Garden Wall said...

Gretel, you have completely captured the essence of that simple beautiful place. What a perfect post for St Georges Day.
Avril

Meliors Simms said...

Such serenity in the Abbey and in your description of the day. Thank you. I do worry about excessive sensibility as a cause of death, what can one do to prevent it?

28parkave said...

found this about your lady..thought you may be interested...

hen said...

I just spotted the ball in that first picture!!!! Well done Andy!

The shades of colour in the church are beautiful. I'm inspired to visit my local church now in day light to see what it actually looks like inside, instead of going in the dark to see the windows!

hen
x

Jessie Lilac said...

I enjoyed our day out together -thankyou! I love the sound of cricket, it reminds me of hot summer days and buzzy bees.x

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The perfect day.
I should think the poor knight is a bit uncomfortable... to spend eternity in such a pose. Thanks for the lovely tour. I am off now to read more of the poor sensitive soul lying beneath the stone floor.

And on a shallow note, ... I love your leather bag!!!

Elizabeth Rhiannon said...

That was beautiful, thank you!!!

spinyurchin said...

Glad you had a lovely day out and about. I could almost smell the stone in the abbey.

Sue said...

I do love your story posts... but what a sad story about the pocket handkerchief lady... Hope the cricket goes as well this weekend :-)

Sweetwater Designs said...

wonderful glimpse of your world today..thank you Gretchen, once again for your curious mind. :-) and I mean that in the sense of looking for adventure and stories and wonderment not as in ..hmmm, strange.:-)

Elizabeth said...

What bliss to visit such a restrained, quiet church with you.
Poor Sarah did have rather a rough time of it.
Novel- worthy but sad, sad,
What contrasts there are in our worlds.
So glad your cricketing chaps still wear whites.
The multi-colored tour de FRance look is too depressing.

Nan and =^..^= said...

Enjoyed attending the cricket match via your photos and wandering into the village with you to explore the Abbey...I too, would have brought work and found in a shady spot for 6 hours is a long time! Looked like a lovely day!

Kim said...

What a lovely way to spend a day and a great opportunity to get the pingwins finished. The story of poor Sarah Fletcher was very tragic and could be from a Kate Rusby song. Thanks for sharing it.
(Oakmoon acres made me smile)

Kim x

tlc illustration said...

So love all of those abbey photos (for some reason, skeletons/skulls in churches just tickle me happy). I love the sense of history and people and place - that is ongoing. Mmmmmmm.....

Suze said...

I also meant to say, if you every get to visit Rochester Cathedral in Kent, look very carefully at the stone pillars...there you can see scratching (faces), and they are the marks left after all the high decoration and painting were removed. Although they are beautiful soft plain stone pillars now, they were once highly decorated and extravagant.

Caroline B said...

Fascinating - such a sad story too.

Karen said...

What an interesting tour and such a sad story of Sarah. I love reading gravestones (abit morbid I know) but I'm so fascinated with each one and love to imagine who the people were, how they lived etc.
Thanks for sharing.

Kim said...

Thank you Gretel, I could hug you :)

Kim x

the casbah kitten/inside the casbah said...

Fascinating! I'd love to visit that area someday *sigh*. And taking a project to work on? You're a woman after my own heart!

Jackie said...

Such a lovely post. Thanks for that glimpse into your world, I love the insides of old churches.

Mlle Miracle said...

Ah, Gretel, I don't know how to thank you for your amazing posts.
With your pictures and your words you allow me to travel and share this experience with you.
You're a very good chronicler!
Thanks to your curiosity I'm knowing part of your History. I love old places too, and I'm always wondering how was life at that time.
I'm going to check flickr's link to know more about the young lady's story.

Sarah Laurence said...

I loved your opening with a "thwack." A village abbey and a day of cricket - you capture the English countryside so well.