Sunday, March 31, 2013

Regency -- Easter and Churches

In Regency England, the church was an important and essential part of everyone’s life. Most likely the large London churches had more fashionably-dressed parishioners on Good Friday and Easter Sunday than would otherwise have attended, but they would be there – regardless!

In other areas, there might have been an Easter faire, and I’ll bet that many a fast was broken by indulging in the luscious Hot Cross Buns, so symbolic of that holiday.

Being a Regency nut, and nearly always having a camera in my hand, these are a few remembrances of my visits there. Jane Austen could easily (and might well have) visited any of these places during her lifetime.
My first trip to England was in September 1997, and I was desperate to see a Cathedral. It happened to be that of Wells – unique in its style and setting. And, what could have been more perfect than the happy coincidence that the day I was there was Colin Firth’s birthday? A tour of the Bishop’s Palace revealed many pieces of furniture which surely existed during the days of Jane Austen.
Sadly I never made it to Winchester to see her burial site, but did also spend time in Bath. On your first visit to such a splendid work of architecture as the Bath Abbey, your eyes don’t know where to look first: down, to note the many memorial stones marking burial spots, some centuries old, or up – at the gorgeous fan-vault ceiling.

 Or maybe the busy outside precinct immediately adjacent to the church itself. on a bright sunny September day, the happy visitors were being treated to an impromptu concert! (In back of where I was standing to take this photo are the legendary Pump Rooms!)

In London, the Tower of London is named after the White Tower, which was originally painted white. It dates back to William I (the Conqueror). No matter how busy the nobles of that era or how war-like, religion was of the utmost importance, and St. John’s Chapel is a beautiful example of their faith.
 Likewise in Windsor, the chapel there is named for Britain’s patron Saint George. Pennants hang in the small side chapel, denoting the members of the Order of the Garter. It is indeed beautiful when there is a slight breeze to stir them. In the foyer is a lovely white marble memorial to Princess Charlotte, who died in childbirth in 1817, and is buried there.
Among the most famous churches of London is Westminster Abbey. This is a side view from the adjacent garden. These photos may not be typical visitor photos, but I am devoted to ancient structures and architecture. 
 Try to imagine the complexity of building such a structure as these a thousand or so years ago! And they’re still there! 

Saint Mary the Virgin Silchester is by far the oldest British church I visited on any of my trips. It’s late Saxon/early Norman era, dating to the early 1100s. Should you want to visit, it’s located near the Duke of Wellington’s country residence in Hampshire. The sense of peace here was incredible. 

Wherever – however – you --or your characters -- celebrate Easter or Passover, my very best wishes for a wonderful occasion! 

A perfectly splendid resource if you’re looking for British traditions of any sort is the book British Folk Customs by Christina Hole. Published in 1976, you may be lucky enough to find a used copy. It’s well worth the effort! 

Hetty St. James 


Tina Donahue said...

Wow, your photos are awesome, Hetty. I so envy you for having been able to visit England. I've always wanted to go there and Spain. Great blog! :)

Sandra Heath said...

Beautiful memories, Hetty. I was with you that day in Wells, so I know how wonderful it was. But for those who have not been to such places as this, photographs are so very important. So much can be described, and the impression given that perhaps one was there after all. Always use photographs for description in writing. They are invaluable. And these pictures, my friend, are perfect for the task.

Kelli Scott said...

Love the photos, especially the old country church with cemetary. That's my style...a bit shabby with plenty of character. Happy Easter!