|A lovely door - the entrance to the complex|
|Ampleforth Abbey, this latest version of the church was consecrated in 1961|
This beautiful location encompasses both a Benedictine Monastery and a college. In 1802, the original house that stood on the site was given by the Honourable Anne Fairfax from which the Monastery was founded and which subsequently became an Abbey in 1890. Over the years it has developed and grown and had three churches upon the site.
|The high altar|
The church that remains today is a magnificent edifice, not overly huge, but warm, plain and inviting. Its is a working church, used several times a day, 365 days a year. We managed to sit in silence in the Lady Chapel next to the nave, lit candle of respect and spent 20 minutes in meditation there. What was amazing, truly amazing was the silence. I have heard quiet before, many times, but the silence was in fact overwhelming. Not a peep - no background noise - nothing. Bearing in mind this is in rural North Yorkshire, there are no main roads nearby and the college is not currently attended by students. A lady was preparing flower presentations at the other end of the church at the high altar for a wedding taking place shortly and apart for the occasional distant 'snip' of her secateurs, I couldn't hear anything. I'm not sure I could have stood it for too much longer, but I think I could get used to it!
A 14th century German carving of the Virgin and Child watches over the small Lady Chapel.
|We lit a candle out of respect|
|The view out across the manicured grounds|
The visitors centre was very interesting and the lady guide was very informative, committed and helpful and a mine of information. This dispelled many myths about the life of a monk and the purpose of their work and what they achieve. I scored 7 out of 10 in a quiz about life as a monk - Linda scored 8 - she'd make a better monk than I.
The history displayed wasn't just about the Abbey, but how the monks arrived and the persecution suffered by the Catholic faith over the centuries. This was presented factually and in a none judgemental way. We were given a free visitors pack full of information.
If I have a criticism at all and it's nothing to do with the Abbey or the college or the people there, it's more about the faith, I found the religious iconography a bit too graphic. Everywhere were carvings of Christ nailed to the cross - I understand its significance, perhaps I just question the need to have it displayed so widely and in such graphic detail. This is not meant to offensive at all, simply an observation.
The Abbey is free to visitors and donations are welcome, the disabled are well catered for, there are plenty of facilities and weekend retreats are available (and not just for men.) The roads are a bit rural and narrow at times and with several road closures in the area, even the sat nav struggled to get us there and back through the rural environment. But that aside, a great day out.