Monday, 26 September 2016
Yorkshire Holiday - Wednesday, 14th September, Part 1: Bolton Priory and the Parish Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert
On Wednesday I was hoping we would go to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens and had even planned a picturesque route through the Dales. Sadly, the long and pretty route turned out to be my downfall as B vetoed the trip as too far and suggested if I wanted to visit an abbey Bolton Priory was only a few miles away.
A rather lovely ancient tree
First view of Bolton Priory
1120 - A community of Augustinian Friars (known as Black Canons) was founded at Embsay, near Skipton.
1154- Lady Alice de Romille of Skipton Castle gave the Canons land and money to they could form a community at Bolton. The monastic way of life the friars followed observed the vows of poverty, abstinence and chastity.
1539 - The Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII closed Bolton Priory, furnishings were removed and lead stripped from the roofs. The Nave was allowed to remain for use as a Parish Church following the new Church of England faith.
1853/80 - The church underwent a Victorian Restoration mainly by the architect, George Street
1982/85 - Major refurbishment of the church.
Plan of the Priory today
The Priory before the Dissolution
Graves and North Transept
Cloister and Nave (the latter is the Parish Church)
Plants in Walls
The Parish Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert
The doorway to the church is a beautiful example of Early English architecture c1220
The wall paintings by Thomas Bottomley and his assistant were installed in 1880. The five madonna lilies represent the Virgin Mary and the 6 other symbolic plants - barley, olive, vine, passion flower, rose and palm represent events and sayings in the life of Jesus. Below the plants are emblems - one heraldic (Priory Cross derived from the Arms of the Earls of Albemarle who were early patrons of the Priory) and an Angel, Chi-Rho, Lion,Crossed Keys, Paschal Lamb, Star of David, Ox, IHS, Eagle and Alpha and Omega.
This model shows the Priory as it would have looked before 1539.
Victorian pipe organ
Font (1867) designed by George Street
The stone altar is a rare example of a pre-Reformation altar which may have been used by the Canons. The central hollow may once have contained a sacred relic. There are 5 consecration crosses on the altar (which I managed to miss - as usual I didn't read the guide book until after the visit - I also managed to miss a Green Man:( ). The altar once served as a floor slab over the tomb of Elizabeth Morley (see brass plate below).
Stained Glass - the upper section of the windows contains some ancient glass (14th century)
The six south windows contain 19th century glass by Pugin, a famous stained glass artist, depicting 36 scenes from the life of Jesus. The windows were installed in 1853. I couldn't get photos of all 6 as the sun was shining directly through 2 of the windows.
The Cuthbert Window shows St Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne and a Patron Saint of the Priory. He is depicted holding the severed head of St Oswald who was King of Northumbria and killed in battle by Penda of Mercia. The King's skull was buried at Lindisfarne. In the 9th century when the monks had to leave there due to Viking raids they took the skull and St Cuthbert's remains with them. These are now interred in Durham cathedral where the Lindisfarne monks eventually settled.
I paid a brief visit to an excellent secondhand bookshop (Grove Books) selling rare books with a lot of books on Yorkshire and a large collection of natural history books. I was swooning over the amount of Collins New Naturalist and Wayside and Woodland books. With the family nearby I decided purchases would not be prudent - I had already got into trouble trying to buy a new cuddly toy (a sheep) in Harrogate! As B points out we are supposed to be decluttering not adding more!
After lunch we visited The Strid but I'll do a separate post on that (there will be less photos!).