Jagged Ruins

Herringbone dressWeekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag– “For this week’s challenge, share with us your own take on zigging and zagging. …any jagged line that tells a story.”

If there’s anything this challenge has shown me, it’s that I’m addicted to straight lines. I had to go back a decade to find something jagged, and there is nothing in my massive collection of photographs that qualifies for zigzag (unless you count any of my selfies in one of my Herringbone dresses). It’s not that I haven’t visited or noticed a place with a zig or a zag, it’s just that capturing the straight line has become an obsession.

So to the ruins I went for jagged.

The story they tell is of a study abroad student who took full advantage of a four-day school week to travel to as many places as possible in an effort to weigh the weight of history; is of the wealth, power, and extravagance of the Anglican church; is of the respect for history throughout England, no matter its current state.

Godstow Abbey, Oxford, Oxfordshire, England

Oxford_Godstow Abbey ruins

The abbey was founded in 1133 by Edith of Winchester, approved by King Henry I, and remained a sacred place of religious study until 1540 when the nunnery was dissolved and granted to George Owen, physician to Henry VIII. Well respected families throughout England sent their daughters to the Godstow nunnery, though it’s most famous resident was sent for protection and hiding over religious study: Henry II’s mistress, Fair Rosamund, rumored to have been poisoned in 1176 by Henry’s jealous wife Queen Eleanor.

St Mary’s Abbey, York, North Yorkshire, England

York_St Mary's Abbey

Destroyed before my country had even had a chance to establish itself, this once powerful abbey was oft featured in the medieval ballads of Robin Hood (his arch-enemy a ‘ryche abbot here besyde Of  Seynt Mari Abbey‘). Originally built around 1055 by William the Conqueror, it was re-founded in 1088 by William II as a Benedictine monastery. It was destroyed by Henry VIII in 1540 – the same year he bestowed the Godstow nunnery to his physician – to transfer the money from the church to the state. The ruins sit in the courtyard of the modern Yorkshire Museum, in the shadows of the prominent York Minster Cathedral.

Wolvesey Castle, Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester_1060

Bishop William Giffard built the first permanent structure on the site in 1110 to house the Bishops of Winchester, and in 1130 Bishop Henry of Blois modernized the palace residence, including installing a piped water system and an indoor latrine (that emptied into the moat). For five centuries the residence was expanded and improved to suit the wealth and powerful positions of subsequent Bishops. It held its last great celebration in 1554 for the wedding breakfast of Queen Mary and Philip of Spain, and was destroyed in 1646 during the English Civil War.

Old Sarum, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Salisbury_Old Sarum

Archaeological evidence suggests the site was first inhabited in 3000 B.C. The site has been occupied by Romans, Normans, Saxons, and British royalty and religious powerhouses. The first cathedral was commissioned by a nephew of William the Conqueror, but it burned to the ground a week after it was consecrated. Undeterred by the fire, a new, larger cathedral was built, with construction completed in 1090. In 1219, factions between cathedral clerics and palace guards led Bishop Richard Poore to move the religious center to New Sarum, modern-day Salisbury. Henry VIII ordered the the abandoned site be disassembled and sold.

And because it’s beautiful

And one of the few truly blue sky, sunny days I had in England: The White Cliffs of Dover

Dover

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*Featured and Post Image are mine: Herringbone selfies, July 2014, Godstow Abbey, July 2004; St Mary’s Abbey, July 2004; Wolvesey Castle, July 2005; Old Sarum, July 2004; White Cliffs, July 2005
**The ads (which may appear) below are not mine, but they keep this free for me. Do with them as you choose.

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13 thoughts on “Jagged Ruins

    • Thanks Gibber! Most of these places around England have fascinating histories to go with them, and nearly all the religious buildings built before Henry VIII didn’t make it through his reign.

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    • There is nothing like it here. First, we’re just not that old, and second, we tear down and replace aging structures (after they’ve been thoroughly graffiti’ed). We’ll probably never have sites like these.

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