Saturday 16 May 2015

Summer is icumen in

Picturesque remains of the Chapter House in front of Sandys' Mansion
Nothing controversial - just stick to gardens was the advice of a certain Monsignor of the Ordinariate. Ever obedient,so I shall. Mottisfont was an Austin Priory - renamed "Abbey" by later owners of the site. The first to profit from the ever-generous Henry VIII's decision to appropriate most of the church's property was a favourite courtier, William Sandys.

Unusually (though Francis  Drake did much the same at Buckland) it was the Church which was amended
The Crossing of the former Church
into a dwelling. Not easy to see on the South Side, Much more apparent at the back. There the outline of the arch of the North Transept can be discerned, and around the corner on the East side the monastic remains are still more clear.
Romanesque Capital

But most people do not visit Mottisfont for its archaeology, but for the gardens. They are now in the care of the National Trust, and are renowned for their collection of old roses - originally set out by the great rosarian Graham Thomas. It is a little early in the season, but the walls give shelter and a good micro-climate, so here is a selection of what is in bloom already.

So much beauty where once was desolation. Curious that the ravages wrought by Henry VIII on the church are now being self-inflicted by the Church of England as she flogs off first the Parsonage Houses and now many Churches - like Mottisfont, to be converted into desirable residences. Henry would not have let it happen - he'd have taken the money for himself rather than funding yet another Archdeacon. Oh, sorry,I was not going to be controversial.

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