Search This Blog

Friday, 23 August 2013

A Mighty Anglo-Saxon Lady

It was nice to see Chester featured on episode 2 of Michael Wood's series on King Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons; I am really enjoying the series.  In about 908 the Lady of the Mercians, Ethelfleda, rebuilt the abbey at Chester, which was dedicated to St Werburgh. It was probably on the site of today's Chester Cathedral. The abbey was rededicated to St Oswald and St Werburgh, and a set of secular canons put in the place of the nuns who lived there.  The nuns are said to have taken refuge in St Mary's Convent nearby. Ethelfleda refortified the city walls, too.

We recently visited the beautiful Anglo-Saxon church at Bradford-on-Avon, St Laurence's, which probably dates back to the 11th century, but there may have been a church on this site, or nearby, during Ethelfleda's era.  It is amazing that the building has survived at all; it was used as a boys' school during the nineteenth century. The church was restored during Victorian times.  As you stand within its cool stone walls, it has a wonderful, peaceful atmosphere all its own: a real 'sense of place'.


S.E. View of Chester Cathedral from the city walls. Engraving by Batenham for A Visit to the Cathedral Church of Chester, c. 1828.

St Laurence's Church, Bradford on Avon. 

© Sue Wilkes.


Tony Grant said...

Hi Sue. I watched that programme. It was very good. Coming from Southampton which itself was a Saxon Town "Hamtun," and was where Alfred's navy often docked.
And I know the statue of Alfred in Winchester very well. It is in a car park in the middle of Winchester High Street. Now where have I heard of a King and car park????!!!!!

That saxon Church is very rare. There are not many of them left. The Normans didn't apprecuiate Saxon architecture!!
There is one more complete Saxon church I know of which looks very similar to the one you have featured, at Wickham , just south of Alton and Chawton incidently.
All the best,

Sue Wilkes said...

Hi Tony,
Yes, I saw the statue of King Alfred in Winchester when I last visited.
I must try to visit the church at Wickham next time I am in the area!