Sunday, 31 July 2011

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Let us gaze on the sanctuary of Waltham Abbey where the Eucharist is celebrated, as we meditate on the feeding of the five thousand.

Guide me, O thou great redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;
Be thou still my strength and shield;
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's destruction
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hymn Society - 3

Below is a photo showing the lovely ceiling of the abbey church.

The present building is the fourth on this site, and was erected in the first quarter of the 12th century to replace the church founded by King Harold. In 1177, Henry II re-founded the church as an Augustinian abbey, as part of his penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. When the abbey was dissolved, the buildings erected for the canons were then pulled down – only the nave survived, because it had always belonged to the parish.

Most of the present building dates from c1120, though the Lady Chapel and the undercroft beneath it were built in the 14th century. The tower at the west end of the church, which now dominates Waltham Abbey, was built in 1556 (during the reign of Mary I) using materials from the demolished Abbey. It was erected at the west end (instead of the east where the old tower, which had fallen down, had been) as the church was leaning in that direction and needed propping up! The east end, the stained glass and the painted ceiling were installed in the 1860s.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Hymn Society - 2

Here we see sue of the stained glass in the east end of Waltham Abbey.

The Abbey at Waltham was the last in the country to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540. There had been a church on the site for hundreds of years, although the building had been rebuilt several times. A settlement existed here in Saxon times, but the earliest recorded history of the town dates back to the reign of King Canute when a member of the royal court, Tovi the Proud, brought a miraculous stone crucifix from his estate in Somerset to Waltham. From this is derived the old name for the district, Waltham Holy Cross.

The church containing the cross was rebuilt in the 1050's by Harold Godwinsson, later King Harold II, as a college of secular canons. After his death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Harold's body was taken to Waltham Abbey and buried. Today, two stones mark the spot, just to the east of the present building, where his body is believed to lie. The inscription on one reads: "THIS STONE MARKS THE POSITION OF THE HIGH ALTAR BEHIND WHICH KING HAROLD IS SAID TO HAVE BEEN BURIED 1066" and on the other "HAROLD KING OF ENGLAND OBIIT 1066"

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hymn Society - 1

I recently attended the 75th Annual Conference of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland. The Conference was held at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hoddesdon.

In the photo above, you can see members of the Society entering Waltham Abbey for a Festival of Hymns on Wednesday 20 July.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dornoch - 21

Let the fields be joyful and all that therein is!

We thank Thee, O our Father,
For all Thy loving care;
We thank Thee that Thou madest
The world so bright and fair.
We thank Thee for the sunshine,
And for the pleasant showers;
And O, our God, we thank Thee,
We thank Thee for the flowers.

Out in the sunny meadows
And in the woodlands cool,
Upon the breezy hillside,
And by each reedy pool,
And in the quiet pasture,
And by the broad highways,
All pure, and fresh, and stainless,
They spring up every day.

And in the dusty city,
Where busy crowds pass by,
And where the tall dark houses
Stand up and hide the sky;
And where through lanes and alleys
No pleasant breezes blow,
Even there, O God, our Father,
Thou mak’st the flowers grow.

And whether in the city
Or in the fields they dwell
Always the same sweet message,
The fair, sweet flowers tell.
For they are all so wondrous,
They show Thy power abroad;
And they are all so beauteous,
They tell Thy love, O God.

Tomorrow, we shall be visiting the Annual Conference of The Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland which met recently at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Dornoch - 20

Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord: ye heavens, adore Him;
Praise Him, angels, in the height;
Sun and moon, rejoice before Him;
Praise Him, all ye stars and light.
Praise the Lord, for He hath spoken;
Worlds His mighty voice obeyed.
Laws which never shall be broken
For their guidance He hath made.

Praise the Lord, for He is glorious;
Never shall His promise fail.
God hath made His saints victorious;
Sin and death shall not prevail.
Praise the God of our salvation;
Hosts on high, His power proclaim.
Heaven and earth and all creation,
Laud and magnify His Name.

Worship, honour, glory, blessing,
Lord, we offer unto Thee;
Young and old, Thy praise expressing,
In glad homage bend the knee.
All the saints in heaven adore Thee;
We would bow before Thy throne:
As Thine angels serve before Thee,
So on earth Thy will be done.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Dornoch - 19

This window depicts the treasure contained in the Holy Bible.

Lord, Thy Word abideth,
And our footsteps guideth;
Who its truth believeth
Light and joy receiveth.

When our foes are near us,
Then Thy Word doth cheer us,
Word of consolation,
Message of salvation.

When the storms are o’er us,
And dark clouds before us,
Then its light directeth,
And our way protecteth.

Who can tell the pleasure,
Who recount the treasure,
By Thy Word imparted
To the simple hearted?

Word of mercy, giving
Succor to the living;
Word of life, supplying
Comfort to the dying!

O that we, discerning,
Its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear Thee,
Evermore be near Thee!

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Another lovely floral display to welcome us to church on the Day of Resurrection and hear the gospel about the treasure hidden in the field.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Dornoch - 18

Here we see a stained glass window telling us about the importance of charity.

Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,
taught by thee we covet most,
of thy gifts at Pentecost,
holy heavenly, love.

Love is kind and suffers long,
love is meek and thinks no wrong,
love than death itself more strong;
therefore, give us love.

Prophecy will fade away,
melting in the light of day;
love will ever with us stay;
therefore, give us love.

Faith will vanish into sight;
hope be emptied in delight;
love in heaven will shine more bight;
therefore give us love.

Faith and hope and love we see,
joining hand in hand agree,
but the greatest of the three,
and the best, is love.

From the overshadowing
of thy gold and silver wing
shed on us, who to thee sing,
holy, heavenly love.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Dornoch - 17

Here we see a scene around the time of the Last Supper as portrayed in John's Gospel.

Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness,
leave the gloomy haunts of sadness,
come into the daylight's splendour,
there with joy thy praises render
unto him whose grace unbounded
hath this wondrous banquet founded;
high o'er all the heavens he reigneth,
yet to dwell with thee he deigneth.

Now I sink before thee lowly,
filled with joy most deep and holy,
as with trembling awe and wonder
on thy mighty acts I ponder;
how, by mystery surrounded,
depths no man hath ever sounded,
none may dare to pierce unbidden
secrets that with thee are hidden.

Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e'er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth:
at thy feet I cry, my Maker,
let me a fit partaker
of this blessed food from heaven,
for our good, thy glory, given.

Jesus, Bread of life, I pray thee,
let me gladly here obey thee;
never to my hurt invited,
be thy love with love requited;
from this banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasure;
through the gifts thou here dost give me,
as thy guest in heaven receive me.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Dornoch - 16

This lovely window shows a Guardian Angel.

Around the throne of God a band
Of bright and glorious angels stand;
Sweet harps within their hands they hold,
And on their heads are crowns of gold.

Some wait around Him ready still
To sing His praise and do His will,
And some, when He commands them, go
To guard His servants here below.

Lord, give Thine angels every day
Command to guard us on our way,
And bid them every evening keep
Their watch around us while we sleep.

So shall no wicked thing draw near
To do us harm or cause us fear;
And we shall dwell, when life is past,
With angels round Thy throne at last.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Dornoch - 15

Another lovely flower display and stained glass window in the Cathedral.

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.


Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light.


For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight.


For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild.


For Thy Church, that evermore
Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
Her pure sacrifice of love.


For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dornoch - 14

This window has a lovely musical theme!

O praise ye the Lord!
Praise him in the height;
rejoice in his word,
ye angels of light;
ye heavens, adore him
by whom ye were made,
and worship before him,
in brightness arrayed.

O praise ye the Lord!
Praise him upon earth,
in tuneful accord,
ye sons of new birth;
praise him who hath brought you
his grace from above,
praise him who hath taught you
to sing of his love.

O praise ye the Lord!
All things that give sound;
each jubilant chord
reecho around;
loud organs, his glory
forth tell in deep tone,
and sweet harp, the story
of what he hath done.

O praise ye the Lord!
Thanksgiving and song
to him be outpoured
all ages along!
For love in creation,
for heaven restored,
for grace of salvation,
O praise ye the Lord!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Dornoch - 13

Here we see a stained glass window depicting Christ the Judge.

Judge eternal, throned in splendour,
Lord of lords and King of kings,
with thy living fire of judgment
purge this land of bitter things;
solace all its wide dominion
with the healing of thy wings.

Still the weary folk are pining
for the hour that brings release,
and the city's crowded clangour
cries aloud for sin to cease;
and the homesteads and the woodlands
plead in silence for their peace.

Crown, O God, thine own endeavour;
cleave our darkness with thy sword;
feed all those who do not know thee
with the richness of thy word;
cleanse the body of this nation
through the glory of the Lord.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Here us a lovely flower arrangement inside Dornoch Cathedral to admire as we celebrate the Day of Resurrection.

Certainly, the person who owned the garden where these flowers came from must have sown good seed and weeded out all the bad plants!

Happy are they, they that love God,
whose hearts have Christ confessed,
who by his cross have found their life,
and 'neath his yoke their rest.

Glad is the praise, sweet are the songs,
when they together sing;
and strong the prayers that bow the ear
of heaven's eternal King.

Christ to their homes giveth his peace,
and makes their loves his own:
but ah, what tares the evil one
hath in his garden sown.

Sad were our lot, evil this earth,
did not its sorrows prove
the path whereby the sheep may find
the fold of Jesus' love.

Then shall they know, they that love him,
how all their pain is good;
and death itself cannot unbind
their happy brotherhood.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Dornoch - 12

Here is a lovely window depicting Christ the Eternal High Priest.

Once, only once, and once for all,
his precious life he gave;
before the cross in faith we fall,
and own it strong to save.

"One offering, single and complete,"
with lips and hearts we say;
but what he never can repeat
he shows forth day by day.

For as the priest of Aaron's line
within the holiest stood,
and sprinkled all the mercy shrine
with sacrificial blood;

So he, who once atonement wrought,
our Priest of endless power,
presents himself for those he bought
in that dark noontide hour.

His manhood pleads where now it lives
on heaven's eternal throne,
and where in mystic rite he gives
its presence to his own.

And so we show thy death, O Lord,
till thou again appear,
and feel, when we approach thy board,
we have an altar here.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Dornoch - 11

Here we see some of the lovely stained glass in the Cathedral. These six windows depict scenes with Our Lord taken from the gospels.

From the outside, Dornoch Cathedral has a solid, bulky, almost squat feel to it, in no small measure due to its cruxiform shape and broad tower.

Inside, this shape lends an air of spaciousness and grandeur to what is not, in absolute terms, really a very large building. The overall feel is one of intimacy; of underlying character. And while you never notice, it only adds to this sense of character to know that none of the four arches at the central crossing are of quite the same height, and that the four main piers are not uniformly spaced.

What you will notice, wherever you look, are the magnificent stained-glass windows. There are twenty seven of them in all, and the overall effect is a magical one of ever changing light as the sun streams into the Cathedral from different directions as the day progresses.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dornoch - 10

Here is a message for us all - Walk in the light of God!

The chief glory (in the fabric sense) of the Cathedral is the wonderful stained glass that will feature in future postings. But I wanted to show you this lovely banner that was made to mark the Year 2,000. I love the green colour of Ordinary Time.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Dornoch - 9

Here we see the sanctuary inside the Cathedral.

The previous minister was the Very Rev Dr James Simpson, who was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1994. The current minister (since 1998) is the Rev Susan Brown, who achieved international fame for officiating at the wedding of Madonna and Guy Ritchie at nearby Skibo Castle in December 2000.

Indeed, this summer Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed Rev Susan Brown as an Honorary Queen's Chaplain. This blog sends Susan sincere congratulations on this well-deserved honour.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Dornoch - 8

Here is a more close-up view of the Cathedral.

In 1570 the Cathedral was burnt down during local feuding. Full 'repairs' (amounting to one of the most drastic over-restorations on any important Scottish medieval building) were not carried out until the early 19th century, by the Countess of Sutherland. Among the 'improvements' carried out, the ruined but still largely intact aisled medieval nave was demolished and a new narrow nave without pillars built on its site. The interior was reordered in the 1920s by Rev. Charles Donald Bentinck, with the removal of Victorian plasterwork to reveal the stonework (but note that the medieval church would have been plastered throughout). The site of the medieval high altar was raised and converted into a burial area for the Sutherland family, who introduced large marble memorials alien to the original appearance of the building.

I send loyal greetings to all my Protestant friends in Northern Ireland on this special day - the 321st Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Dornoch - 7

It is now time to visit the lovely Cathedral.

Dornoch Cathedral is a parish church in the Church of Scotland, serving the small Sutherland town of Dornoch, in the Scottish Highlands. It was built in the 13th century, in the reign of King Alexander II (1214-49) and the episcopate of Gilbert de Moravia (died 1245) (later Saint Gilbert of Dornoch) as the cathedral church of the diocese of Caithness (moved to Dornoch from Halkirk).

Sunday, 10 July 2011

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Perhaps we can gaze on this lovely fruitful garden in Dornoch as we meditate on the parable of the sower.

As we reach the end of the academic year 2010-11, it is appropriate that we sing a traditional hymn of dismissal sung at final assembly.

Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing,
Thanks for mercies past receive;
Pardon all, their faults confessing;
Time that’s lost may all retrieve;
May Thy children, may thy children
Ne’er again Thy Spirit grieve.

Let Thy father-hand be shielding
All who here shall meet no more;
May their seed-time past be yielding
Year by year a richer store;
Those returning, those returning
Make more faithful than before.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dornoch - 6

The UHI students must have been thrilled when the First Minister, Alex Salmond, visited their training kitchen at Burghfield House.

If you click on the link, you will see the lunch menu for the Bistro. I can strongly recommend the Burghfield Club Classic at £5.95!

Alex Salmond was most impressed when he officially opened the training hotel in 2009. Here is the newspaper account of his visit.

The Scottish Cabinet will meet at Dornoch next year, First Minister Alex Salmond revealed yesterday.
He made the announcement when he opened Burghfield House Training Hotel, a £3.8million teaching unit for the hospitality and tourism industry, and the first of its kind in Scotland.
Burghfield House is a fully-operational hotel featuring six bedrooms and a 40-seat restaurant with production and training kitchens.
Mr Salmond said: “All the Cabinet should see this wonderful concept.
“The training college will reinforce the high-quality tourist destination the area already is. Highland hospitality is legendary.”
He could see no better addition to the Highland Homecoming celebrations than to open such a facility.
Mr Salmond added: “This is a good example of a college with its finger on the economic pulse, and it is a visionary and collaborative venture.”
He acknowledged there would be some interesting challenges, but it was a magnificent opportunity for young people in the local area.
He joked that he had half a mind to delay the SNP conference in Inverness so he could stay for lunch.
And he said that kitchen superstars of the future could start their trade in the Burghfield, formerly owned by newspaper magnate Lord Rothermere.
“There will be some great names of culinary significance in the future who will pass through here, not just in Scotland, but worldwide,” he said.
“This is a superb asset for the communities of Sutherland and Caithness, and I congratulate North Highland College and the university of the Highland and Islands Millennium Institute for their vision in bringing this facility to the area.

Praise indeed!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Dornoch - 5

For those on a more restricted budget, why not stay at Burghfield House Hotel?

The Burghfield House is a fine country house settled in one of the Scottish Highlands' historic cathedral towns. Offering high quality accommodation, fine dining, and bespoke event hosting, the hotel has something for everyone.

Burghfield House, operated by The North Highland College, is unique. It is run as a training hotel.

Burghfield House provides a learning, teaching, and commercial environment, featuring a private dining or conference room, a lounge which can accommodate up to forty people, a thirty seat restaurant, and six letting bedrooms. The design, decor, and furnishings combine to provide a subtle blend of modern efficiency with traditional comforts.

The North Highland College is a constituent part of UHI - The University of the Highlands and Islands. Please remember, I was the Most-Innovative Lecturer at UHI during the 2010-11 Session!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Dornoch - 4

When visiting Dornoch, why not stay at the Dornoch Castle Hotel?

The Castle is almost certainly on the site of the original Bishop’s Palace of St Gilbert, who founded the Cathedral in the early 13th Century, but it is not known when the oldest surviving part of the present building was put up. In 1557 the Palace was given to the Earl of Sutherland by his brother in law, Bishop Robert Stewart. It is clear that the building was erected before that date and may well be of the late 15th Century.

The earliest surviving documentary evidence of the Palace is the Charter of 1557 by which the Bishop Robert appointed the Earl of Sutherland and his heirs to be hereditary Constables for Dornoch “situated in the Irish (Gaelic speaking) Country among the wild, unbridled, untamed and savage Scots”. The appointment was made by the Bishop who was alarmed by the progress of the Lutheran doctrines and wished to safeguard the property of the Church by putting it temporarily in the care of his relations. He cannot have visualised that the Church would never own its property again.

When the building passed into private hands in 1922 it was considerably modernised. Further extensive work was carried out after it became a hotel in 1947. Great care has been taken, however, to maintain the character of the Castle as a stately, historic and comfortable residence. This work continues now with the new owners who took over in June of 2000. They have gone some way to restore some of the former glory to this magnificent and fascinating historic building.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Dornoch - 3

Here we see Dornoch Cathedral.

Dornoch used to be connected to the main railway network at The Mound via a light railway. The railway was opened on 2 June 1902. Stations on the line were Dornoch, Embo, Skelbo, Cambusavie Halt and The Mound Junction. The stations were closed on 13 June 1960.

On 21 December 2000, the pop star Madonna had her son Rocco christened in Dornoch Cathedral, the day before her wedding to Guy Ritchie in nearby Skibo Castle.

On 13 January 2005, Dornoch was granted Fairtrade Town status.

I am delighted to announce that The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are due to have lunch today at Stirling Castle.

I had a long chat with the Provost of Inverness yesterday - in the food hall of Marks and Spencer!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Dornoch - 2

Dornoch is quite a quiet place - this photo was taken at 12 noon!

Dornoch has the thirteenth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the Old Town Jail, and the previous Bishop's Palace which is now the well-known hotel, Dornoch Castle and a notable golf course, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, named the 5th best golf course outside the United States in 2005 by Golf Digest magazine. It is also notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. Her name was Janet Horne; she was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch's Stone, commemorating her death, inscribed with the year 1722. Legendary golf course designer Donald Ross began his career as a greenkeeper on the Royal Dornoch links.

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of my ordination.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Dornoch - 1

Towards the end of June, I made my first visit to Dornoch.

Dornoch is a town and seaside resort, and former Royal burgh in the Highlands of Scotland, on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, close to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east. The town is within the Highland local government council area, and within the former county of Sutherland.

The town is near the A9 road, to which it is linked by the A949 and the B9168.

A Happy Fourth of July to all my American readers!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Our gospel reading for this Sunday is the same as that for the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus - which we celebrated two days ago.

All ye who seek a comfort sure
In trouble and distress,
Whatever sorrow vex the mind,
Or guilt the soul oppress:

Jesus, who gave Himself for you
Upon the Cross to die,
Opens to you His sacred Heart;
O to that Heart draw nigh.

Ye hear how kindly he invites;
Ye hear His words so blest:
“All ye that labour come to Me,
And I will give you rest.”

O Jesus, joy of Saints on high,
Thou hope of sinners here,
Attracted by those loving words
To Thee I life my prayer.

Wash thou my wounds in that dear Blood,
Which forth from Thee doth flow;
New grace, new hope inspire, a new
And better heart bestow.

Happy Sunday!

Tomorrow, we are off to Dornoch.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Fountains Abbey - 12

Here we see one of the lakes in the grounds of Fountains Abbey.

The perfect complement to the Abbey is Studley Royal Water Garden, a Georgian masterpiece of an ornamental green garden adorned with Classical statues and follies.

Once wild and wooded, the valley of the river Skell was transformed into one of England’s most spectacular Georgian water gardens by the Aislabie family.

John Aislabie inherited the Studley Royal estate in 1693. A socially and politically ambitious man, he first became the Tory Member of Parliament for Ripon in 1695 and in 1718 became Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In 1720 disaster struck his career; disgraced by his part in the South Sea Bubble financial scandal, he was expelled from Parliament and disqualified for life from public office. Aislabie returned to Yorkshire and devoted himself to creating a landscape of often breathtaking and ground breaking vision.

After John’s death in 1742, his son William extended his father’s work by purchasing the remains of the Abbey. He also extended the landscaped area in the picturesque romantic style, contrasting with the formality of his father's work. Between them, the two created what is arguably England's most important 18th century Water Garden.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Fountains Abbey - 11

As we meditate on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, here is another lovely photo with the Abbey in the distance.

By the middle of the 13th century it was one of England's richest religious houses and, as well as farming, was mining lead, working iron, quarrying stones and horse breeding. But the seeds of failure lay in the very success of the system. The lay brothers encouraged the monks to extend their estates beyond what was necessary for monastic self-sufficiency.

In the 14th century economic collapse followed bad harvests and Scots raids, and the Black Death exacerbated the effects of financial mismanagement. The community of lay brothers reduced in size, many of the monastic granges were leased out to tenant farmers, and in the late 15th century dairy farming replaced sheep farming.

Despite its financial problems, Fountains Abbey remained of considerable importance in the Cistercian Order. The abbots sat in Parliament and the abbacy of Marmaduke Huby (1495-1526) marked a period of revival.

Fountains once again flourished, but its life was brought to an abrupt end in 1539 by Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. The abbot (Marmaduke Bradley) received a pension of £100 pa, his prior received £8, and 30 monks each received £6.

For a few months after the Dissolution, the Abbey buildings stood empty in the hope of being the site for the cathedral for a new Dales bishopric.

This was not to be, and by 1540 glass and lead from the dismantling of Fountains had found their way to Ripon and York.
The buildings and parts of the estate were sold to Sir Richard Gresham, whose family subsequently sold them on to Stephen Proctor, the builder of Fountains Hall.

Then the abbey passed through several hands until it came into the possession of the Messenger family. In 1767 it was sold for £18,000 to William Aislabie, who landscaped the abbey ruins as a picturesque folly to be viewed from the Water Garden.

Happy Feast!

Earlier today, Her Majesty The Queen officially opened the fourth session of the Scottish Parliament. I provide a link to her speech.