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Tony Grist

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Sawley Abbey [Sep. 22nd, 2008|10:42 am]
Tony Grist
After picnicing on the coast we drove inland in search of something medieval.  I leafed through my English Heritage guide book and picked out Sawley Abbey. I didn't think we'd been there before, but as we got closer and I started to recognise the scenery I realised we had. It was ten years back (at least) and I'd just bought Ailz a pendulum and she walked round the church trying to dowse where the high altar had stood.
 
The guides tend to be a bit sniffy about Sawley. "Not a major monastic site"- that sort of thing. I don't suppose the monks thought of it in those terms.

It was a Cistercian house with a reputation for producing fine scholars. The name used to be written Salley and maybe it was pronounced that way too.

There's a pretty, little village and the river Ribble runs nearby. This was Yorkshire until 1974, when local government reorganisation turned it into Lancashire. The hill framed by the arch (cobbled together from bits of monastic detritus) is   Pendle Hill- famous as the meeting place of the 16th century Lancashire witches.

Places like Sawley make me very happy in a sad sort of way. Does that make sense?










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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2008-09-22 11:06 am (UTC)
We must have passed very close to Sawley on our own Sunday morning journey; it's clearly an area worth knowing better.

I particularly like the last of these; such lovely light, and I love the way the curves work together.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 11:43 am (UTC)
It's about 4 miles from Clitheroe. The first time we were there it was all misty and rainy- as I suspect it often is.

Thanks. That archway is a gift to the photographer.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2008-09-22 11:46 am (UTC)
The detritus arch is great. It has me wondering just where the bits of carved stone fit into the original Abbey. What was the location of the carved face in the second last photo?

Your sad happiness (or happy sadness) makes sense to me. I tend to define such feelings as a happy melancholy. Ruins do that to me as well, especially the kind where only a few stones are left standing against a beautiful backdrop.

I have to say that English Heritage really manicures their properties.
:)

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 12:27 pm (UTC)
According to one website there were once two arches spanning the road. They were demolished in the early twentieth century and the bits and pieces used to make this roadside arch.

The funny little face nestles inside a foliate canopy which might once have housed a statue.

Churches don't have to be ruinous to affect me this way. For instance I found Durham cathedral extremely moving. An important factor is whether the site is religious or not. I love abbeys, churches and stone circles. Castles and stately homes- with odd excepetions, like the wonderfully quirky Bolsover castle- tend to leave me cold.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2008-09-22 12:57 pm (UTC)
I especially like the barely-there spider web in the third shot.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 03:13 pm (UTC)
There's a spider's web? I hadn't spotted that! :)
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[User Picture]From: silverhawkdruid
2008-09-22 02:16 pm (UTC)
Lovely photos. My dad's side of the family were from Yorkshire, and I am pretty sure we visited this area when I was a child, so thanks for invoking some nice memories. :-) We used to drive up to Yorkshire from Cornwall about three times a year to visit relatives, and Dad had a passion for old architecture and ancient sites, so he took us to see ruins, castles, cathedrals, and old towns like York every time we travelled. We also got to see different places everytime we 'overnighted' en route. I fondly remember us searching around Lincoln cathedral for the Lincoln Imp, among other visits. :-)

I love the old monasteries and abbeys. There is something profoundly moving about the way the remains stand as a monument to the past history of our country. Something profoundly spiritual about the sites too, that really touch me somewhere deep inside.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 03:18 pm (UTC)
Even though I'm a (naturalised) Lancastrian, I have to admit that Yorkshire is the loveliest of English counties.

I've never been to Lincoln. There's still so much of Britain I haven't seen.

I'm as sure as I can be (without any solid evidence) that I was a monk or nun in a previous life- perhaps in several.


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[User Picture]From: silverhawkdruid
2008-10-04 10:51 pm (UTC)
The whole 'past lives' thing is very interesting. Evidence issues aside, it is certaily one way to explain feelings some places evoke, deja vu, and other things that haunt us from time to time. I don't know what I may have been in the past, though I am open to suggestions. LOL
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-10-05 11:55 am (UTC)
I believe in reincarnation. On the whole it's probably a good thing we don't remember past lives. I don't suppose our brains could cope with the overload.
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[User Picture]From: silverhawkdruid
2008-10-08 11:08 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, I guess not. Maybe as we develop spiritually we get to keep more hints to our past lives because we are more able to grasp the basics? I don't know really. I just believe that reincarnation makes way more sense than other life after death, or lack of life after death, theories. I have always considered coming back optional, kind of when you die you get a life review, followed by a summary of reincarnations and lessons learned to date, and then a, 'well, what would you like to do next' discussion.
It's just a thought that makes sense to me. :-)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-10-09 10:40 am (UTC)
It makes sense to me too.

I think we're here on earth to rack up experience and gain wisdom. After we've achieved a certain level of spiritual expertise the need to reincarnate disappears.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2008-09-22 04:37 pm (UTC)
Those shadows in the first photograph remind me of the Roman Forum: the remnants of mathematics.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 06:41 pm (UTC)
Hmm, yes. I see what you mean.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-09-22 05:08 pm (UTC)
Lovely as usual --- thank you for sharing these!

Places like Sawley make me very happy in a sad sort of way. Does that make sense?

Completely, although I couldn't articulate why. I recognize the feeling.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 07:14 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome.

I almost always feel this way around ancient religious sites- from stone circles to parish churches.
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-09-22 10:09 pm (UTC)
Me, too, even if the site is not very ancient or if I am only viewing a picture or a video...
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2008-09-23 05:04 am (UTC)
Yes, exactly. That's where I recognize the feeling from.
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From: athenais
2008-09-22 06:30 pm (UTC)
Oh, I want to go there. What a wonderful arch.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-09-22 07:16 pm (UTC)
Apparently there were once two arches crossing the road. They were demolished in the early 20th century-because of traffic- and this arch assembled out of the remnants.
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From: nostoi
2008-09-22 07:47 pm (UTC)
What a beautiful arch!
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[User Picture]From: daisytells
2008-09-22 10:17 pm (UTC)
Your ruins are so much nicer than ours. But then, ours are only a couple of hundred years old. I believe it is the age that lends them that "joyfully-sad" aspect.
I got the same feelings at Schoolmaster's Hill as well as a few other spots around New England, such as Mystery Hill - and oh, yes, Cathedral in the Pines, New Hampshire. I also often feel the Presence in the deep woods, and when I was able to climb, on the mountaintops as well.
I can see why the OT pagans went to the "high places" to worship....
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-10-05 11:58 am (UTC)
Mystery Hill- what a wonderful name.

America is also an ancient land. It's just that the remains of your past civilisations are harder to find.

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