Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hexham Abbey

Hexham is one of my favorite English towns.  It is a lovely place and has an amazing abbey. 

There has been a church on the site for over 1300 years.  It was originally built around 670 and served as a monastic church.  It was destroyed by the Vikings in the late 800s and then rebuilt as a priory in the early 12th century.  I visited the abbey in the summer of 2010 and again this June.   My favorite area is the night stairs, that the monks used to come from their dormitory into the church to attend late night and early morning services.   I walked up and down the night stairs and you can see grooves in the stairs from the feet of those long-ago monks.  Here is a photo:

On the landing at the top of the stairs, there is an ancient wooden door.  Naturally, it is locked to keep out the tourists but I can just see the monks, half-asleep, trudging through the door and down the stairs to sing the night office.  Another amazing thing is the bishop's chair, called a cathedra.  Hexham has a particularly interesting and very ancient cathedra.    Here it is:
You can spend a long time in Hexham Abbey.  Hopefully I will return again someday!

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