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Archive for the ‘England’ Category

422px-LindisfarneFol27rIncipitMattOn June 8, 793, Vikings raided the remote abbey of Lindisfarne in Northumbria in the first Viking incursion into England. Alfred and other Anglo-Saxon kings of England were able to battle the invaders with some success, but for almost the next 300 years England, especially the North, was locked in a cycle of invasion, warfare and settlement. The Vikings’ Old Norse was a cousin of Anglo-Saxon and some elements of modern English come from it — for example the personal pronouns they, them, etc., and skirt (a cognate of shirt, from Old English).

The beautifully illuminated Lindisfarne Gospel is among the treasures of medieval art. Shown here is the title page from the Gospel of Matthew. Look carefully and you can make out stylized letters reading:

liber generationis Iesu Christi filii David filii Abraham…

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham…

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J. Buckett's tombstone

J. Buckett's tombstone

In 1972 when I visited the small village of Stockbridge, England (a little northeast of Winchester) I found this tombstone in the church cemetery. It’s a splendid example of a poetic epitaph. They don’t make them like this anymore.

When I went back in 2002 moss had made some of the writing illegible, but based on my notes from 1972, here’s how it reads:

 

In
Memory of
JOHN BUCKETT
many years Landlord of the King’s Head Inn
in this Borough
who departed this life November 20th (?), 1802
Aged 67 Years.

And is alas! poore BUCKETT gone?
Farewell convivial honest JOHN.
Oft at the well by fatal stroke,
Buckets like pitchers must be broke.
In this same motley shifting scene
How various have thy fortunes been!
Now lifted high, now sinking low,
Today thy brim would overflow.
Thy bounty then would all supply,
To fill & drink & leave thee dry.
Tomorrow sunk as in a well,
Content unseen with Truth to dwell.
But high or low or wet or dry,
No rotten stave could malice spy.
Then rise immortal BUCKETT rise,
And claim thy station in the skies.
’Twixt Amphora and Pisces shine,
Still guarding Stockbridge with thy sign. 

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Fan vaulting in Bath Abbey

Fan vaulting in Bath Abbey

Here’s a shot of the delicate fan vaulting in Bath Abbey. This is from our trip in 2002. Unfortunately we took way too much time at the Tourism bureau trying to arrange a B&B for that night.

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Do but look up

Do but look up

I’d been to Salisbury Cathedral more than once, but on our last visit we decided to talk with a tour guide. He stood right at the base of one of the major columns at the crossing and asked us to look up. The height of the view alone would be breath-taking; but the curvature of the columns makes it startlingly vertiginous. The weight of Salisbury’s spire exerts so much downward force that the columns actually bend. Some believe the tower to be the only surviving large one from before 1400 A.D. William Golding’s bleak novel The Spire is an imagined story of its creation.

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Port Isaac

Port Isaac

We’ve become fans of the English import series Doc Martin on PBS. If you liked Northern Exposure you may enjoy this fish-out-of-water series about a quirky doctor in a quirky village. If you didn’t like Northern Exposure you may find Doc Martin slightly less self-consciously precious. It’s filmed in the village of Port Isaac in Cornwall. We’ve never been there (or anywhere in Cornwall) but the location shots are very appealing.

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