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Medieval Monasteries to visit

May 2, 2013

Medieval Monasteries to visit

A large part of the tourism in the UK is the history it offers. Part of this history is religious, and monasteries played a large part of medieval life. The current condition of the monasteries, varies, most in urban areas did survive more than those in rural areas. The urban abbeys are still historic, but after the destruction of the dissolution they do not have their monastic buildings still in tact. The rural abbeys however, although not in tact, can be mapped out easier.

  1. Glastonbury

Glastonbury abbey was one of the wealthiest monasteries throughout the middle ages. I haven’t been to this abbey, but the grounds on which the remains stand look incredible to wander round on a nice sunny day (I know, we don’t get many, but we can hope). But, the real pull to this abbey is the belief that the legendary King Arthur is buried there. So, well worth a visit.

  1. St Albans

Now, my research is on St Albans, so I may be a little bit biased! But, St Albans is a lovely town to visit, shop, sit in the park and visit the two museums there. The abbey is a wonderful building with good grounds. Although historic, with a medieval feel, some of the monastic buildings are no more. But, this abbey has always been important to Christians, being the site of the martyrdom of Alban, the proto-martyr of England.

3. Tintern

This abbey was home to the white monks. It is on the border of England and Wales, just being inside Wales. The drive to the abbey is almost as nice as the area and abbey itself. To get to the ruins, you go through the shop to purchase a ticket, and dogs are allowed to walk in the grounds on a lead (we took our German Shepherd through the shop into the grounds, which I fear shocked quite a few shoppers). The monastic buildings can be traced walking around the grounds. And for those who have read about the brave knight William Marshall, his wife is buried at Tintern abbey.

4. Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds was very similar to St Albans in the middle ages. Both were wealthy Benedictine monasteries who enjoyed the rule over their respective towns. Not that this came without trouble from the townspeople, but that is for another day. There are only remains of this abbey, but they are still great to look at.

5. Canterbury

The last on our list, Canterbury, which is probably the most famous of medieval abbeys. This is because of its featuring in the Canterbury Tales, by Chaucer, about a group of pilgrims sharing tales on their way to Canterbury. This cathedral is well worth a visit to look at its amazing buildings, the history can be learnt at this place and you can wander around the cloister and the chapter house, as the monks would have done before.


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