We have just enjoyed a welcome few days break. It was good to get out of doors and have the opportunity to recharge our batteries. As the crow flies, we did not travel far, in fact we could still just see the northern end of our high Cotswold escarpment whilst walking on top of the Malvern Hills.
The Priory Church in Malvern is one of the finest Parish Churches in England, parts of which date back to William the Conqueror. Much of the medieval stained glass is still intact and the ancient tiles seen upon some of its walls simply add to its uniqueness, and reveal its medieval monastic origins. Whilst most ecclesiastical buildings were damaged during Henry Vlll's dissolution of the monasteries between 1536 and 1541, Malvern Priory somehow managed to escape.
If you look carefully at this photo you will see two working gas lights - one near the entrance porch and the other on the far left of the Priory. More about these will be revealed later.
The Priory was originally occupied by a community of up to 30 Benedictine monks. The rule of St Benedict required that they spent around seven hours each day in study and prayer, and up to nine hours working on manuscripts, cultivating crops, caring for the sick and providing hospitality to travellers. The monastery included a farm, fish ponds, gardens, and domestic buildings with dormitories for sleeping, kitchens, an infirmary, and a 'Guesten Hall' for welcoming visitors. The attached, Abbey hotel, where we stayed, now uses some of those domestic buildings.
A unique view of the Priory, only viewable from the hotel's dining room, a room where we enjoyed breakfast and evening dinner throughout our stay.
The impressive nave columns, and arches, date back to 1085 when Aldwyn founded it as a Benedictine Priory.
A close up showing some of the details to be seen in the early, rare, Medieval stained glass windows, which date from 1430 - 1502, and illustrate stories from the Old Testament.
The rare medieval tiles seen on several of the Priory walls would also have featured in other medieval ecclesiastical buildings at that time, but sadly most were either damaged or forever destroyed following the dissolution of the monasteries.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
With apologies to those who have not read the Narnia series.
The almost life size papier mache head of a lion sits at the exit door from the Priory's Eastern Porch, and represents Aslan, derived from the Turkish word for a lion. He belongs in Malvern Priory because C S Lewis spent much of his childhood at school in Malvern College, and although not all of his experiences were happy ones, he loved the Priory, and it is reputed that the wardrobe in his novel is based on the Priory's East Porch.
The east porch - "is this the way into Narnia?" Sadly we didn't have time to find out, but may be we will next time!!!
You can see a gas light in front of the pillar - another feature also very much associated with Narnia. At night time when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy walk through the wardrobe and into Narnia, the forest is heavily laden with snow, but the scene is brightly lit up for them by a large free standing gas light. Working gas lights are a prominent feature still seen today in and around the Priory churchyard and also along several of the adjoining Malvern streets.