Little Malvern Priory
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CHURCHYARD WILD FLOWERS

Peter Garner very kindly did a plant count for us and found 73 different wild flowers in the churchyard and a further 13 in the car park.  Using this information, Roger Smith has now prepared a magnificent folder with tables showing the flowering and fruiting season for each plant and providing a page for each (in monthly order) with a coloured illustration so that we know what to look out for as the year progresses.

The folder is in the church porch and is well worth studying.  We are most grateful to him.

                                                                                                      Jocelyn Bailey

    Image result for The spirit of St Louis

 Now and then

 

 

 

 

Then.

On 25/07/1909, at dawn, Louis Bleriot landed his aircraft near Dover Castle having successfully made the first-ever manned air crossing of the Channel. This was a momentous occasion. A prize of £1000 had been offered by the Daily Mail for the first person to achieve such a crossing and others had variously unsuccessfully competed for the prize.

A part of my induction into HM C & E included a visit to the Departmental Library. Here the Librarian showed us the report of the Customs 'Landing Officer' who witnessed Bleriot's flight and successful landing. The report, all in beautiful copper-plate hand-writing, described the arrival in great detail. An enormous crowd witnessed the event, history had been made. However his concluding sentence summed up his cautious approach to the whole event.-"In conclusion,  Honourable Sirs, I have to record that I see no future in this form of transport."

 Now.

A recent estimate suggests that at any one time there is an average of over 9000 aircraft in the air. We don't always get things right, do we ?

 Roger.

 

 

 The church should exist to help us build communities of belonging. 

A Speculative Ramble around the Building Stones of Little Malvern Priory  

The study of building stone is a slightly arcane topic somewhere between geology, history, building conservation and the mason’s art, for which I claim no particular expertise. To trace a building stone back to its source, except in well documented cases such as the use of Portland Stone in the reconstruction of St Paul ’s Cathedral, requires detailed local knowledge or examination of the rock under the microscope.

Despite nestling on the eastern slopes of the Malvern Hills where Malvern Stone is widely used for building it is notable for its almost complete absence in the medieval fabric of LMP, with a few exceptions which I will come to later. This is probably because it is a hard, intractable rock, difficult to extract before the widespread use of high explosives in quarrying in the 19th century, and it is even harder to dress.  

 The nave and chancel are constructed largely from massive “freestone”, so called because it can be freely cut into smooth-faced regular blocks (ashlar). It consists of rather soft sandstone varying in colour from creamy white through pinkish-brown to dark red. As  LMP was always a modest foundation its building material would have been sourced from as nearby as possible – not for LMP the importation from Normandy of expensive “Caen stone”  used in the construction of more prestigious foundations such as Canterbury, Westminster Abbey and Dover Priory.

  To the east of the Malvern Hills there are no building stones of consequence until one reaches the Cotswolds. However, to the west a huge swathe of land from Shropshire, through Herefordshire and down into Monmouth is underlain by a sequence of rocks known as the Old Red Sandstone (ORS), a slightly misleading term as it includes shale, marl and limestone as well as sandstone. These rocks were laid down 400 million years ago when this part of the world languished in the tropics south of the Equator in an environment encompassing shallow sea, brackish coastal plains, meandering rivers and arid desert. Several different beds of sandstone within this 8,000 ft thick sequence of rocks have been exploited from the medieval period as a source of stone for ecclesiastical buildings including Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals. It seems likely therefore that they would have been available for the construction of LMP. More research would be needed to identify which if any of these beds are present at LMP, but possibdidates include the St Maughan’s Sandstone, the Brownstone Group and the Downton Castle Sandstone. The latter is of particular interest as it is known to have been extracted at Caplar Quarry near Fownhope and used in Hereford Cathedral, and more locally in St Anne’s Ledbury. Are we to imagine heavily laden ox-carts of this stone creaking eastwards over the pass between Herefordshire Beacon and Wynds Point to a building site at Little Malvern?

 The Highley Sandstone and Keele Beds from the succeeding Carboniferous Period are massive red sandstones which occur close to the River Severn near Kidderminster and the Abberley Hills. They have been used extensively in locations adjoining the Severn, including St Anne’s Bewdley, the Severn Bridge at Stourport and Worcester Cathedral, indicating the importance of the river as a transport link, although nearer home there are also small outcrops near Cradley and Colwall.

 Younger still, in the succeeding New Red Sandstone (250 million years ago) desert conditions prevailed once more, giving rise to a wide range of possible candidates. The Grinshill Sandstone from Shropshire has been widely used as a building stone in the Midlands and further afield, including Downing Street . It ranges in colour from white to reddish brown and is essentially a fossilized sand dune system. If one looks carefully inside the church (for example by the 3rd pew on the north side) where the creamy patina of the ashlar has broken away one can see tiny well rounded dark red sand grains (“millet seed grains”) diagnostic of wind-blown desert sand. Similar sandstones occurring nearer home include the Bromsgrove and Averley Sandstones. These also outcrop in the Abberley Hills northwest of Worcester and have been used in the construction of the Cathedral. Could we perhaps speculate, even more tentatively, that LMP might have received consignments of surplus stone from its mother church, barged down the River Severn to Upton before being hauled up through the Royal Hunting Forest of Malvern Chase to Little Malvern? – the sort of scene evoked by Tennyson’s Lady of Shallot -   By the margin willow- veil’d ,/  Slide the heavy barges trail’d,/ by slow horses and unhailed - -etc.

 Moving on to the era in which we have some documentary evidence we are on firmer ground. The Fabric Log Book states that in 1936 the four faces of the tower were “re-pointed and faced up with synthetic stone”.  How was a Faculty ever obtained for that? Fortunately, a decade later in 1947, and more thoroughly in 2003/4, the tower stonework was restored using Hollington Stone, a fine-grained sandstone of Carboniferous age quarried around the village of the same name in NE Staffordshire. This creamy coloured uniformly sized ashlar is visible on the west face of the tower as one enters the church and also behind the organ. In 1981 the mullions of two clestory windows and two nave windows were replaced under the terms of a grant from the Department of the Environment which stipulated the use of red and grey Forest of Dean Stone in lieu of York or Hollington Stone. This brings us back west of the Malverns to the area where this speculative journey began.

 A final word about Malvern Stone; as referred to earlier it has not been used to any significant extent at LMP. However, the infill of the transept arches, which must have been carried out during Bishop Alcock’s restoration contains occasional unshaped blocks of dark grey or red Malvern Stone. This probably came from the rubble of the transept ruins, and I suspect that it had never been actually quarried as building stone. It was simply loose, frost-shattered surface rock handy for infilling purposes. Similarly the porch, which was built in the 1960s, is faced with un-coursed rubble – predominantly sandstone with a few irregular Malvern Stone blocks.       

 

This great diversity of stone  used in construction, modifications, extensions and repair  over a period of nearly 900 years is probably typical of most ancient churches, as a result of the Dissolution, changing fortunes, original sources of stone drying up, new sources becoming  available etc. Barring the mercifully brief reign of synthetic stone on the tower, they all enhance the character and add to the narrative history of this precious church. Perhaps if you are sitting against the wall in the 3rd pew on the north side and notice the small patch of dark red sand near the bottom of the ashlar you might reflect (but not during the Sermon!) that you are probably being sheltered from the elements by sand deposited in a tropical desert hundreds of millions of years ago.

 

 

 

*photo 1-Saharan Dunes  -  sandstone in the making; *photo 2 – Downton Castle Sandstone, Beech Cottage Quarry, Herefordshire, showing cross-bedding; *photo 3 – cross-bedded sandstone inside LMP. Can you locate it?                                                                                

John Chatten  

 

Catastrophism, Uniformitarianism and Gullet Quarry

 

Here is a brief review of the beginnings of modern geology, with a little added local flavour. Until the latter half of the Eighteenth Century the prevailing view in Christendom accorded closely with the creation story in Genesis. Foremost amongst the proponents of this was the Irish Archbishop James Ussher, who in 1650 calculated from biblical genealogies that the world began on Sunday 23 October 4004 BC. Although some may have doubted his precision, that was the broadly accepted model or paradigm of the Earth’s history. It had been created in its present form within recorded history and, except for The Flood, had changed little since.

  Thinkers had been intrigued by fossilized animal remains in the rocks since at least Aristotle’s day. They were thought by some to be the residue of earlier failed attempts at creation but the dominant theory amongst the theologians of the day was that they were the remains of the unfortunate creatures who could not be accommodated in Noah’s Ark. One of the most influential 18th Century thinkers in this field was the pre-eminent paleontologist Baron Georges Cuvier. He believed that the enormous thicknesses of sedimentary rocks – sandstone, shale, limestone etc, seen at the Earth’s surface had been deposited in series of cataclysmic events like The Flood. This view became known as Catastrophism, and it prevailed amongst most natural philosophers until challenged in 1785 by James Hutton (1726-97), an Edinburgh University trained doctor.

Hutton, who could perhaps be described as the Father of Modern Geology, was an observational scientist rather than a theoretician and realized that Catastrophism could not explain many features of the Earth’s surface, not least of which was that the thickness of sediment is greater than the depth of any possible flood water. Furthermore, he found evidence that the surface of the Earth could not have been created once and for all. It had been built up slowly by repeated cycles of sedimentation, uplift, erosion and re-submergence punctuated by periods of igneous activity, suggesting that the world must be very much older than previously imagined – perhaps even millions of years. He found a key piece of evidence for this on the North Sea coast at Siccar Point, now famously known as Hutton’s Unconformity. In the lower part of the cliff one can see layers of steeply inclined Silurian shale abruptly truncated above by virtually horizontal Devonian sandstone which is of similar age and lithology to many of the building stones of LMP. The erosion plane or discontinuity between rocks of different ages and inclination (ie degree and direction of tilt) is termed an unconformity. This evidence won over Hutton’s critics including John Playfair (1748-1819) and James Hall (1761-1832), both luminaries of the Scottish Enlightenment, but it was Playfair’s “Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory” published in 1802 that established the Principle of Uniformitarianism (not to be confused with Unitarianism!). This is often summarized by the phrase “the present is the key to the past”. The processes which have formed the Earth’s crust are continuing, they have been the same throughout geological history and can be observed operating today. This was the breakthrough on which modern geological thinking is based. It also provided the intellectual seed bed from which Darwin developed his ideas on evolution published in The Origin of Species in 1859.

  Now, to bring this closer to home; less than 2 miles from LMP we have our own unconformity in Gullet Quarry. On the right of the quarry face are intensely metamorphosed Precambrian rocks consisting of schist and gneiss, intruded by veins of igneous pegmatite. To the left, stratigraphically overlying these very ancient rocks, along a steeply inclined erosion plane, are much younger un-metamorphosed, fossiliferous Silurian sediments. As this unconformity occurs at the base of the Silurian it is clearly very much older (about 40 million yrs) than Hutton’s Unconformity at the top of the Silurian, and it brings into juxtaposition much more dramatically disparate rock types. Here we can see, on our doorstep, an excellent example of the very principle which established modern geology. Without doubt - Uniformitarianism rocks!  

   

Saint Francis, the Environment and the Goldilocks Enigma

 

Being brought with a Protestant and mildly Nonconformist background I looked upon saints, or perhaps I really mean the “admin” of sainthood, rather sceptically. After all what possible role could human beings have in arranging the seating plan in Heaven? Nevertheless, there is one saint I can remember with warmth from my earliest childhood, I went to a Victorian-built school in the reception class of which was an enormous fireplace. In the depths of winter the fire was blazing and the hearth was arrayed with quarter pint bottles of milk, the tops standing proud on collars of frozen milk. It was cold in those early days of The Welfare State! Above the fireplace was a large rather sentimental picture of St Francis of Assisi, birds perching on his outstretched arms and a fawn nuzzling round his legs. I already had an instinctive love of nature and Saint Francis seemed a saint to whom I could feel a

real connection. .

 

St Francis (1181-1266) was born into a wealthy family in the town of Assisi and lived a dissolute and rather riotous early life, but in his twenties he suddenly changed – he appears to have had a revelation. Thereafter he progressively renounced his wealth, in the process falling out badly with his father, perhaps not surprisingly, as he had “liberated” some of his father’s money to repair a dilapidated local church. But his real mission was not repairing churches, it was embracing poverty and preaching Christ’s message to the common people. He gathered around him 12 companions, eventually swelling to hundreds, and in 1223 he was granted Papal authority to found his Fratres Minores - the Franciscan Order of Friars. But it is not this aspect of his mission which interests me most. Many others followed a similar path. It is the revelation he had that “There is God in everything”, and therefore we need to care for the entirety of Creation. It is for this aspect of his teaching that he has been called in more recent times the patron saint of the environment

 

The view held by some, exemplified by Paul Davies an acclaimed physicist and cosmologist, is that against all the odds, the universe is uniquely adapted for life. This suggests an analogy with the tale of Goldilocks. As we all know Goldilocks was a rather willful, selfish and destructive child (like mankind?). She ransacked the bears’ home ( the environment?) but eventually discovered that it was not too big, not too small, not too hard, not too soft, not too hot, not too cold but “just right” for all her needs (rather like our place in the universe) - hence the term “The Goldilocks Enigma”. It is important to point out that Davies is a non-believer and I think that in a way this adds weight to his concept. It is clearly not simply a piece of “creationist propaganda”. Davies himself, though shrinking from the concept of a deity, acknowledges that “The Universe is about something”.                            Cont…...

 

 Cont...Sceptics would of course argue that with billions of solar systems and even more planets in the universe there are bound to be some where the conditions are suitable for life. They would be right, at least at the macro-environmental scale. By this I mean locating a planet that is not so large that gravity would crush life out of existence nor so small that it would be too weak to retain an atmosphere and let you drift off into space, nor too hot, nor too cold, etc. But the conditions necessary to generate and sustain life go very much deeper than this rudimentary macro-environment, right down to the atomic and sub-atomic environment of chemical reactions and quantum physics.

 

Jacob Bronowski’s ground-breaking 1970’s TV series “the Ascent of Man” had a chapter entitled “the Grain in the Stone” and another “The Hidden Structure”. In these he explores the importance of the microscopic and sub-atomic nature of the universe, not just in terms of the ascent of man but in the very existence of life when he says “physics is the knife which cuts into the grain of nature”. There are certain very precise physical constants, and values, which apply throughout the universe relating, amongst many other things, to atomic and sub-atomic processes which are fundamental to the chemistry of life. If the atomic radius and valency of hydrogen and oxygen were even slightly different from their existing values (and why shouldn’t they be in an accidental or random universe?) it would be impossible to combine them into molecules of water. Similar considerations apply to all the other elements required to produce the complex amino acids, enzymes, hormones - the building blocks of life. The important point is that whilst there may be millions of other potentially suitable planets in the universe there is only one set of universal constants and values which make life as we understand it possible, only one chance of getting this myriad of factors “just right”. That is The Goldilocks Enigma.

 

The concept is scientifically controversial, some might say outlandish. In itself it makes no claim to confirm or deny the existence of a creator. Nevertheless, it gives food for thought to us all, but particularly people of faith, to ponder how this “miracle of life against all the odds” came about. Reason can take me no further, so I will simply say what I believe. It seems to me that the universe is improbably and unaccountably fine tuned to the creation and sustaining of life, and that brings me all the way back to where I started with St Francis’s revelation that “There is God in everything”. Consequently I stand in awe-struck wonder at the majesty and glory of Creation, but much more so in that of the Creator.

John Chatten

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 Self-Supporting Ministry?

In the Diocese of Worcester, just over a quarter of our fully ordained priests are self-supporting.

As a recognised calling in the Church of England and under a variety of titles, a priestly ministry offered by those who receive no payment from the Church of England has been around for more than 50 years.

Self-supporting minsters may continue in their paid employment, may be retired on a pension or be

financially supported by their partner. 

Those who offer this ministry receive the same training and qualification as those who work in stipendiary (salaried) posts. Although some train full-time, the development of self-supporting ministry has been facilitated by the availability of ministerial training courses that are part-time.

As with all part-time professionals, the progression of responsibility towards increased authority is harder and access to more senior roles more difficult. There are some self-supporting ministers who are incumbent, some who are rural deans and some who are diocesan officers, and there is some flexibility in movement between paid and unpaid roles within the church in parish, in the Cathedral and in the Diocesan administration.

What do we do?

At the moment there are 30 of us around the Diocese of Worcester. Most of us work in parishes fulfilling a priestly ministry of leading worship and prayer, offering pastoral care, preaching and teaching in the same way as our stipendiary colleagues. focus of their  ministry is at work. As with any form of chaplaincy, the role is what you make it given the constraints of your workplace.

“You Do What?”

 

 Crystals – Nature’s Precision Engineering

 

We perhaps tend to think of nature as being rather wooly edged. We appreciate the beauty of nebulous cloud formations, sunsets, wooded glades, flower strewn meadows etc. Or perhaps we see it in terms of random, violent events like earthquakes or the battle for survival “red in tooth and claw”. Rarely do we think of geometric precision as part of the picture (although the example of the astronomer’s skill in predicting the arrival of the recent solar eclipse to within seconds tells a different tale). However, underlying the apparent randomness of many natural phenomena there is a mathematical order which has controlled the whole of nature since The Big Bang. I was reminded of this recently when Roger Johnson commented on the “astonishing geometric perfection” of a pyrite crystal (aka “fool’s gold”) which his daughter-in-law from Spain had showed him. The Rio Tinto area of Spain is renowned for its commercial sulphide mineralization, of which pyrite (FeS2) is a common example.

Pyrite forms perfect cubic crystals with faces precisely at 90 degrees to each other. They have no option as their external shape is the reflection of their internal atomic structure. This takes the form of a regular 3-dimensional scaffolding or lattice with atoms situated at each intersection of the lattice. The shape and dimensions of this lattice are in turn determined by the atomic radii and valency of the two constituent elements iron and sulphur (atomic radius is effectively the size of the atom with its nucleus and orbiting cloud of electrons and valency is essentially a measure of the “neighbourliness” of the atom –how many bonds or links it can form with other atoms). These factors limit the way in which the atoms can be stacked together to form crystals. We know this as X-ray crystallography enables us to see into the heart of these structures. True, one can find pyrite crystals which do not appear to be cubic but underneath the skin they are. For example, some take the form of an octahedron, an 8-sided figure rather like a pair of pyramids placed base to base. In reality this is merely another form of cube in which all the corners have been planed off. In every case, however, the angle between the faces reflects the internal geometry and remains constant. This is expressed as the Law of Constancy of Interfacial Angles. Time and reader interest would not permit consideration of the other five more complex crystal systems, but the same geometric principles are written into the “DNA” of them all.

Moreover, this underlying mathematical precision is not limited to minerals. It can be demonstrated in the animal world as well. For example, the spiral shells of nautilus and other gastropods, the curvature of a ram’s horn and even the arrangement of florets in the sunflower can be shown to conform to the mathematical formula for an equiangular or logarithmic curve.

Why should this be of any importance? To Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watch Maker, it simply confirms that the universe is a precise but meaningless clockwork slowly running down, devoid of, indeed without need of, any creator or spiritual dimension. To people of faith it should point in entirely the opposite direction. It is a spiritually enriching confirmation of order created from chaos. This was beautifully expressed in the lectionary reading in February from Proverbs 8 v 22-31 relating to Wisdom. The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old - - then I was beside him like a master workman; I was daily his delight. It is this Wisdom from the beginning of time which continues to create the mathematical precision in Roger’s pyrite crystal, the nautilus shell and the unique DNA in each of us.    

John Chatten

(with a little help from my friends, particularly Shirley Bellwood, who has valiantly attempted to restrain my tendency to overburden readers with excessive scientific jargon. Remaining failings in this respect are entirely mine).

 

 

Church attendance and visits

1.7 million people take part in a Church of England service each month, a level that has been maintained since the turn of the millennium. Approximately one million participate each Sunday.

Approaching 3 million people participate in a Church of England service on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve. Thirty-five per cent of the population attend a Christmas service of some sort, rising to 42 per cent in London, nationally, and 22 per cent among those of non-Christian faiths.

The Church of England has the largest following of any denomination or faith in Britain today. More than 4 in 10 in England regard themselves as belonging to the Church of England, while 6 in 10 consider themselves Christian.

People support their local churches in many different ways at different points in their lives. Each year 3 in 10 attend regular Sunday worship and more than 4 in 10 attend a wedding in their local church, while still more attend a funeral there

In 2009, 43 per cent of adults attended a church or place of worship for a memorial service for someone who has died and 17 per cent were seeking a quiet space.  Both these proportions are increases on 22 per cent and 12 per cent respectively in 2001.

85 per cent of the population visit a church or place of worship in the course of a year, for reasons ranging from participating in worship to attending social events or simply wanting a quiet space.

Every year, around 12 million people visit Church of England cathedrals, including 300,000 pupils on school visits. Three of England's top five historic 'visitor attractions' are York Minster, Canterbury Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.

 

   

Extract from CHURCHES IN VISIT IN WORCESTERshire AND DUDLEY

 

 LITTLE MALVERN PRIORY

St Giles, St Mary & St John (the Evangelist)

 Church of England Grade 1  1125  LateNorman

Little Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 2XD

 

Once the site of a Benedictine Priory Little Malvern Priory Church is set on the east side of the Malvern Hills and looks out across the Severn Valley towards Bredon Hill and the Cotswolds. The peacefulness of its setting reflects the wisdom of the monks in choosing the site for a place of prayer and meditation.

The path through the churchyard leads you past a wide variety of wild flowers and towards an ancient building that speaks of the eternal nature of God.

Entering the church is to find yourself in what the Celtic Christians called a “thin place”: a place of stillness where there seems very little between you and the presence of God.

 

Look for:

· East Window Depicted are the family of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, including the future Edward V, on of the princes in the Tower. Together with the ‘Royal’ window in Canterbury Cathedral, the Little Malvern glass in the only surviving monumental representation of the key Yorkist personalities in English 15th century history.

· North Window There is an ancient tradition linking the church with William Langland. It is thought that this location was the inspiration of his poem “Piers Ploughman”. The glass that has recently been added to this window in memory of Marian Tosello reflects this association.

· Squints There are two squints that remind us of the time when those who were considered “unclean” were able to watch the celebration of Holy Communion without being in the main body of the church.

· Monk Stalls The remains of the misericords can still be seen although they show the impact of the Reformation in destroying imagery in the church. Interestingly, the carving of two pigs at a trough seem to have been able to survive the attack.

· Tiles. There are examples of 14th century tiles in Little Malvern Priory that were made in the Grounds of Great Malvern Priory.

 

King Richard III and Little Malvern Priory ?

The recent discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a car park in Leicester has sparked a renewed interest in that monarch. Was he the unscrupulous murderer of his two royal nephews (Edward the Prince of Wales and Richard the Duke of York) in order to secure the throne of England or is he the much maligned victim of subsequent Tudor propaganda? The Richard III Society certainly believes the latter to be the case and, for reasons which are not entirely clear, the American Branch of the Society makes a small annual donation to Little Malvern Priory. What then, if any, is the link between Richard III and LMP?

Our east window is the obvious starting point, and indeed it features in the Richard III Society’s website. As most of congregation will be aware it depicts, albeit in a now fragmented form, the Yorkist Royal Family at the time that the window was commissioned by Bishop Alcock in or around 1482. The reigning monarch, Edward IV, is now missing as is his younger son Richard Duke of York, but Edward Prince of Wales is clearly depicted, together with his mother Queen Elizabeth Woodville and his sisters, Princess Elizabeth of York, Cecily, Anne and Katherine. The window is of historical importance, not only because it is a particularly fine example of late Medieval English stained glass, but also because it is one of only two known contemporary depictions of  Edward Prince of Wales who nominally became King Edward V on the death of his father in 1483, only a year after the window was installed.

That is as far as the story in our window takes us. However, as Edward was only 13 years old when his father died he and his younger brother were placed under the guardianship of their paternal uncle, Richard of Gloucester, who in May 1483 was appointed Protector until Edward came of age. Only a month later the two boys were placed in the Tower of London and Parliament petitioned Richard to accede to the throne, which he did on 6 July 1483, around the time previously set for Edward’s coronation. If Shakespeare is to be believed the boys, The Princes in the Tower, are already doomed. (Richard III’s aside in Act 3  “So wise so young, they say, do never live long”). Whoever was responsible for their deaths, they were never seen alive in public again.

 However, Richard III’s reign was to be short lived as he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth Field in August 1485 (A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!)  by the army of Henry Tudor. Richard’s body was taken to the nearby Greyfriars Priory, and for over 500 years the exact location of his burial was lost until it was rediscovered by a archaeologists last August beneath a council car park.

Another link in this chain is, of course, Bishop Alcock whose emblem of three cockerels  is  depicted in our window. He not only commissioned our east window, but was tutor to the “Princes in the Tower”, Lord Chancellor to Edward IV, confidant of Richard III, and subsequently Chancellor to Henry VII after his victory over Richard at Tewksbury. He is also believed to have been instrumental in encouraging the marriage of Henry VII to Princess Elizabeth of York, thus reconciling the Houses of York and Lancaster, which brought the Wars of the Roses to an end and ushered in the Tudor dynasty. Clearly he was a supreme statesman who managed to remain at the centre of national affairs through violent, changing, dynastic fortunes.

A rather more tenuous link relates to Margaret of Anjou, Queen of Henry VI and vigorous defender of the Lancastrian cause. Her army was defeated at the Battle of Tewksbury in 1471 by numerically superior Yorkist forces which included Richard, then Duke of Gloucester. It is just possible that Margaret, fleeing from the battle, sought refuge at Little Malvern Priory.

Is our link with Richard, slender as it is, worth pursuing?  Does it warrant putting something on our audio-history?  Perhaps we should invite a speaker from the Richard III Society to come and give us a talk to explore it further.

John Chatten

Enough Food for Everyone IF…

Nearly one billion people go to bed hungry every night and two million children die from malnutrition every year.  Hunger is still the great scandal of our age.  All around the world, even in the UK, people are struggling to feed their families.

The government has promised to provide 0.7% of national income for aid and to host a Hunger Summit in 2013.  We must make sure they keep these promises.  This June, the world’s most powerful leaders will meet in the UK at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.

This is our best opportunity to tackle hunger.  We must make IF happen.

What’s happening in 2013?  Rallies have been organised by the IF Campaign on Saturday 8th June in London and on Saturday 15th June in Belfast.  Join with thousands of other people at these.  In London, it will be a day of meaningful worship and significant action.  There is an ecumenical service at the impressive Westminster Central Hall at 11.30, followed by a walk of witness through Central London to the main event in Hyde Park from 2.00 to 5.00.  If you can’t make it to London on the 8th, why not join in the big IFast – a national day of fasting on Thursday 6th June, fasting in solidarity with 900 million people who don’t have enough to eat.  You can also show visible support for the campaign by wearing an IF wristband.  Find out more about all these at www.enoughfoodif.org and/or www.christianaid.org.uk/if.

What do we want?  We want our leaders to act on the four big issues that mean so many people do not get enough food:

· Aid:  Enough Food for Everyone IF we give enough aid to stop children dying from hunger and help the poorest families feed themselves.

· Tax:  Enough Food for Everyone IF governments stop big companies dodging taxes in poor countries.

· Land:  Enough Food for Everyone IF we stop poor farmers being forced off their land and grow crops to feed people, not fuel cars.

Transparency:  Enough Food for Everyone IF governments and big companies are honest and open about their actions that stop people getting enough food.

Together, we can make IF happen.  The more of us who get involved, then the greater pressure there will be on world leaders to tackle global hunger in 2013.

Who is involved?  You.  We want millions of people to share the message “Enough Food for Everyone IF…” so that, together, we’ll be too loud for our government to ignore.  Behind the scenes, the campaign has been joined by over 150 organisations.

For further details visit the enoughfoodif.org, christianaid.org.uk/if, oxfam.org.uk/land, and savethechildren.org.uk websites.

Taken from Christian Aid publicity material

 

 

   

Monk’s path?

 

Britain is covered in the vestiges of these ancient roadways. Some are absorbed into our modern roads and others have disappeared completely. In wandering around our local footpaths, I question why these paths are where they are. The line of the old railway from Malvern to Upton via Malvern Wells is a more obvious route but what about the old track on Fruitlands that goes from Peachfield Road behind the houses in Walnut Crescent to emerge near Cherry Tree Drive? It links the bridleway that goes under the railway and across the golf course to the club house at what was Wood Farm. From here it crosses a field and you can pick up the route again near the Corner of Green Lane. You can follow this path southwards to join another path that comes out in Assarts Lane and with not too much imagination it would continue along the field boundary hedges on 19th century maps straight towards Little Malvern Priory.

Was this the route of an ancient Monk’s Path? There are parallel paths above and below this one along which travellers could vary the route according to the season. Trade and communication was by foot or horse-back with goods being carried by mules and pack-horses along these ancient routes.

If you trace the route back towards Great Malvern it goes across Malvern Wells Common into College Road and along modern day Abbey Road or Priory Road to Great Malvern Priory, built some 40 years after the building of Little Malvern Priory. Was it a Monk’s Path?

Returning to Little Malvern Priory, there are roads, paths and tracks radiating outwards leading to Deerhurst,Gloucester, Winchcombe, Tewkesbury Evesham, Pershore and Worcester. These places had something in common– they all had Benedictine Priories, sadly there are few remains. They were mainly founded in the 12th century and were dissolved by King Henry VIII in the 1530’s.

Great Malvern Priory was built for around thirty monks and the Church, Pool and Abbey Gateway are remnants of this bygone era.

Little Malvern Priory was built for a community of around a dozen monks in 1125 and was originally known as St Giles Priory. (is this how the Church at Hanley Swan got its name?) It was built as an annex to the Church Of Worcester with Worcester's Prior having the right to remove monks from Little Malvern and indeed being able to choose the Prior of Little Malvern.

There is a list of priors with their dates inside Little Malvern Priory. The earliest Priors are not recorded but there is a reference to one ‘William of Broadway being appointed in 1269. There was a ‘John of Dumbleton’ (appointed 1299) who resigned after one year.Henry Staunton took over in 1360 and died 9 years later. In 1378 Richard of Wenlock became Priory until 1392.

Henry Morton was the Prior in 1480 and it was during his time that the remaining monks were sent to Gloucester Abbey whilst Little Malvern Priory was refurbished. They were able to return two years later. It was at this time that a Refectory known as the ‘Prior’s Hall’ was built there . Thomas Colman came next (1484) then there is a gap until John Bristowe is recorded as the Prior in 1529. On August 31st 1534, Prior John Bristowe and his remaining six monks were required to surrender the buildings and their lands with the dissolution of Little Malvern Priory (probably the smallest Priory in the land) as part of King Henry’s programme. In 1536, John Bristowe was awarded a pension and the Monastery buildings were already beginning to fall into disrepair.

This land was purchased by the Berington family shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries. They had Little Malvern Court built around the ‘Prior’s Hall’ and also on the site of the Monastic Cloisters. The ten acres now surrounding the Court (the house and gardens are open to the public on certain days) used to be part of the monastic grounds. Over the next three centuries the Priory Church deteriorated to a point where the barrel vault roof caved in and the Berington family had this repaired in 1864. Since then there have been a number of refurbishments and the remaining Priory Church and nearby ruins are listed as an ancient monument.

In 1954, The Society of Friends of Little Malvern Priory was formed and since then nearly a quarter of a million pounds has been raised towards various projects to maintain the building for all those who call by to visit or to worship at the regular services ( at least once a week, often more) held in this very special Priory Church.

As for Little Malvern Priory itself, it is just beyond the Parish of Malvern Wells but those who live there cannot help but feel that it is a very special place. If you have never been inside it is definitely worth a peep. If you are interested in its detailed history there is an excellent little book for sale in the entrance to the Priory Church.

There are examples of 14th century tiles in Little Malvern Priory that were made in the Grounds of Great Malvern Priory. Were these transported by horse and cart through the Parish of Malvern Wells along the old Monk’s Path mentioned here? Malvern tiles can be found in many local Churches and Cathedrals and as far away a St. David’s Cathedral in Pembrokeshire. This is further evidence of how far goods were transported along these ancient trackways.

When you are out and about walking the local footpaths and country lanes, spare a thought for all those who have gone before you and wonder, as I have done, why these tracks are where they are.

Glynis Dray 

 

Listen!

On one of the seats in the churchyard is carved the word ‘Listen’. At least that’s what I thought it said when I first saw it. Then I wondered if it said ‘Lister’ and was the name of the man who had made it, but I prefer my first interpretation because it is exactly the right place to sit and take in all that is happening around —–- the call of a blackbird, the song of a robin, grass being mown, the cry of a buzzard overhead ........... all the sounds of country life.

Why don’t you try it? Who knows, you might even hear the voice of God.

Jocelyn Bailey

 

 

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