Monday, 5 August 2013

An "ABC Tour..."

I come from a family of 'churchoholics'.  Dad jokingly calls our days out "ABC Tours" - short for "Another B*****y Church!".  Fortunately Mark has become infected with the same bug and happily tags along when my family are charging from the car park to the nearest church tower or steeple!
We found an absolute gem in the south Cotswold town of Malmesbury on Friday.
It's another Abbey Church which was taken over by the parish in the 1530s.
The grand west end of the building has largely disappeared - only the south-west tower remains.
Up close there's a hint of the fabulous carvings that must have surrounded the west door.
Incredibly, the south porch is completely intact and absolutely beautiful.
This is the outer part, which I believe tells the story of Christ's life..

Here are the carvings round the inner doorway...

With further carvings on the left...

and right.....

According to the guide book all these statues would have been painted (just like the porch in Lausanne that I posted about in April)  Even without its paint this is considered to be one of the best carved porches in Europe.
Here's the inside of the church - dating from 1180.....
There's no East Window because the current building is only a fragment of the original abbey.
The entire section from the steeple forward was made unsafe after the steeple was hit by lightening in 1497.  It's still a wonderfully imposing space...

Our eyes were drawn to this unusual little stone gallery...
Nobody is quite sure exactly what it was used for but there's a theory that it could have been used to 'keep an eye' on the huge number of pilgrims that used to visit.
A sort of Medieval CCTV!!!

This is the outside wall where the steeple once stood.

And here's a little of the ruined south transept..

The little market town that's grown up around the Abbey is also very pretty.
We walked down the hill, admiring the pretty stone cottages and tracing the path of the old town wall.  It's a great place to stop off and enjoy 'coffee and culture' for a couple of hours!


  1. You're right, that is a gem, I do love Churches or any ornate building, but especially churches in England because of the history that usually accompanies them.
    I've never been to the Cotswold area and I really do want to go now.
    Much love,

  2. Really quite fascinating and beautiful aren't they !

  3. I've never been to Malmesbury. It sounds as if it's a place that we should put on our 'must visit' list! Fascinating! What's left looks quite well preserved. It must take a lot of money to just do the basics! Joan

  4. I clicked on the photos to make them larger...they are amazing. I'm afraid I am also addicted to "The ABC Tours". Only our churches are not this old.

  5. OHMYGOSH--this is beautiful. In this country, if a church was damaged like that, you can be sure it would be torn down and a parking lot or Wal-Mart put in its place!!!

  6. I love the idea of ABC days out! And this one looks like a really good one. Thanks for sharing!

  7. The church has some really great features. Thank goodness they have preserved that much of it!

  8. Wow what a wonderful building. I'm not religious at all and don't like going to churches all that much, but the buildings themselves are so amazing, we generally always look around any churches we find. This one is a gem indeed!

  9. 1180 AD - wow! What an abundance of blessings to have such beautiful churches to visit. Coffee & Culture sounds like a great name for tours, too! -- Jan

  10. It's a gorgeous church even without the west end. Wonder what happened to that end or why they didn't repair instead of tearing down. Those carvings are great even after all these years. You visit the best places!

  11. I've just been reading about Malmesbury Abbey in an historical novel (The Crown) and was thinking that I would try and find some of the old photos from when I went there on a study field trip many years ago (so that I could refresh my memory of the beautiful architecture). How pleased I was that you have posted photos of your recent trip - good timing for me! Thank you!

  12. Ha ha, your dad's definition of an ABC tour made me laugh. I think churches are so interesting, many have stood the test of time and can tell us so much about the past and some of the architecture is amazing. Hope you enjoyed your day out in Leicester, most of my mum's family live there so it's a place I've visited often over the years.