Sunday, 8 March 2009
I set off intending to visit the Barley Mow, which was featured in Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. I was going to walk along the Thames, but it was raining so I sought refuge in Dorchester Abbey. I like this abbey I think the archicture and history of the area is amazing.
I started out by having a pint and lunch in the 15th century coaching inn The George Hotel, which is opposite the abbey lych gate. DH Lawrence has visited this inn. The bar staff were very polite and it was a very cosy pub.
I think the best time to visit Dorchester Abbey is in the summer when the flowers in the cloister gardens are in full bloon. The scent of the roses and other flowers makes it a wonderful place to be and to sit in the gardens for peace and quiet.
I went to visit the grave of Sarah Fletcher, who is said to be our local ghost.
Abbeys and cathedrals are of course more opulent than our local churches although one cannot fail to be impressed by some of the artistry in the stained glass windows and some of the ancient architecture.
There are some ancient mediaeval tombs of knights inside the abbey
My favourite part of the abbey is the colourful wall with what looks like a pre raphaelite mural. I have asked and this is not pre raphaelite however it was painstakingly restored from lots of little pieces which had to be removed and reassembled.
There was a plaque which said one of the windows has been restored by American friends of the abbey.
The Abbey has its own cloister museum which displays artefacts from the archaeology around the abbey. The abbey has origins in Saxon times, and the cloister museum displays pieces of stone work from all the different eras beginning with early English and romanesque.
original mediaeval door
The cloister gardens are to the rear of the abbey and feel quite secluded, with seats and a view over the river where you can see wildfowl.