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Saturday, January 16, 2010

In the footsteps of the last King of Old England

Well the snow has gone to be replaced by heavy rain and dark clouds!!

I had thought of going to Barnes when I woke up but as the rain fell I decided stuff it!!

So I headed down the road to Waltham Abbey.

The Abbey church is old, it was founded and 1030. Legend says that at Montacute near Glastonbury, an Anglo-Danish Thegn called Tovi the Proud found a large black flint crucifix buried at the top of a hill, following a dream. He loaded the cross onto an ox-cart, but the oxen would only go in one direction and didn't stop until they reached Waltham, a journey of some 150 miles.

It was refounded in 1060 by Harald II (the loser of the Battle of Hastings and the last Saxon King of England). One of the many rumours of Harald is that he was buried at Waltham (it is also rumoured he was buried at Bosham in Sussex).

There is a legend that Henry I of England met an elderly monk at Waltham Abbey, who was in fact a very old Harold. King Harold had a son posthumously, called Harold Haroldsson, who may have been this man, and may also be the occupant of the grave.

The church was rebuilt by the Normans in 1120 and expanded by Henry II in 1177 (in penance for the murder of Thomas Beckett).

At the dissolution of the monastries Waltham was proposed as one of the new Cathedrals but alas this didn't happen and most of the church was pulled down and today all that survives is the nave of the Norman church of 1120. The church would have been huge (there is a photo below showing the a plaque with showing you how it would have looked).

Waltham still has a 15th century doom painting (poor photo below).

Oh and one of my cousins was married in it!! I think it's the only one of Simon Jenkins top 100 churches that I've attended a service at.

Due to the rain I slipped by little Panny in my pocket and used that.


oldcrow61 said...

What a lovely church and the tombs are most interesting. Great shots.

Tricia said...

Super pictures. The more I see of the results of Panny the more I would like one!!

Right decision regarding Barnes today
....awful weather...