stepping stones of truth

A journey along the path of life - the stones can be rough, smooth or even wobbly!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Where other feet have trod

So I set off in pursuit of the “other cathedral”. I ignored signs to the local hospital and kept the huge square tower in sight. It was only a mile across the river valley, (and after a pleasant pub lunch) that I could look back across the valley to where I had been at the labyrinth, on top of the hill, to the left of the woods.

It WAS a hospital - the Hospital of St Cross - and it was the one the signs had pointed to, but not the sort I had imagined - but as in Knights Hospitallers, hospitality, that sort of thing – not the beds and operations type. I would call it an almshouse if it was in a village, but it was huge. AND it was open to the public, AND had a gift shop that served delicious hot chocolate (they have proper teas in the summer). Usefully, the pub had a very good leaflet about the place, so I was able to read up about it before I arrived. You can read the leaflet too, though sadly not enjoy the homemade tomato and herb soup with crusty baguette! I could also see it from the window of the pub, to keep an eye on it in case it moved on. Well, it was a bit magical and I had been watching Howl’s Moving Castle.

I won’t go on about the history, but it was founded in 1136…..1136 and its still going! And the church that I thought was the cathedral – bits of it date from 1155! I walked around the building marveling at the age of it all. I loved the Norman windows in the church; the mellow red brick contrasting with the old stone; the tranquil garden with the view back to St Catherine's hill; the cloisters, ahh the cloisters (I have a special fondness for cloisters); the light falling across ancient steps; but above all the continuity of it and the antiquity.

Ancient steps in The Brethren's Hall

Cloisters linking the church and the Master's lodging

I talked to the (female) porter who still gives out the wayfarer’s Dole (ale and a bit of bread) and looks after the Brothers. Some things here do change, as she is the first ever woman to hold the post. But I was still pondering about this place, doing the same thing, looking after people, in the same buildings for all these centuries…..

My father loved Tradition (capital T). I wonder if it’s inherited? He was a town councilor and relished the robes and the ceremonies, and at an early age took me along to the Trooping of the Colour and stuff like that.These tiles were made in 1390! "Have mynde"

Maybe that’s what I appreciate about labyrinths, and bellringing too. That sense of following in the footsteps (literally!) and being connected to so many generations before me.


At 12:21 pm, Blogger Val said...

But where's the photo of your boots???

At 12:33 pm, Blogger Val said...

Well I had already taken one that day, and it was a tad too well manicured, prim and proper to go lying about on the lawns haha! Sorry to disappoint! Will do better next time :o)

At 1:57 am, Blogger Val said...

Yes, I suppose that would raise some eyebrows!

At 7:36 pm, Blogger Kerri said...

What a wonderful, historical place! Your history is so much older than ours!!! You certainly had an interesting day (and got lots of excercise too!). Great photos! *off she goes to look up cloisters* :) (I've never thought about them before) :)


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