David's Monkish Meanderings 2010 travel blog

Fan vaulting Peterborough Cathedral

Henry's first queen

Saxon era dedication stone

Modern wood carving of Bede


I'm falling behind on this blog business!

Leaving Norwich on Tuesday I headed north in pursuit of more important people in the story of British Christian spirituality. Earlier than Julian by several centuries, the lives of these saints were chronicled by England's first historian of substance: "the Venerable Bede" (673-735). His writing also shows an extensive knowledge of theology and science. All this from a guy who lived nearly all his life in Jarrow (near Newcastle-on-Tyne) and never travelled much further from there in his lifetime than the distance I covered on Tuesday, in travelling from Norwich to Jarrow.

While this was a thriving centre for religion and trade in Bede's time, now it seems to be a rather depressed industrial area, with inhabitants that I would be careful not to offend if I could help it!

On thw way I stopped at Peterborough, to check out the cathedral there. Similar story to Ely - built on an earlier Anglo-Saxon monastery site, was a Benedictine monastery and abbey, shut down by Henry VIII and became a cathedral. The interesting twist here is that Henry's first wife, Katharine of Aragon, is buried within the cathedral (photo). Apparently he didn't attend the funeral, but people think that he may have granted the right for the Abbey to become a cathedral in memory of Katharine. Mary Queen of Scots was also buried here after her execution, but her son (James I) had her upgraded to first class, in Westminster Abbey.

Then on to Jarrow, to see the "Bede's World" education centre, and St Paul's church and (ruined) monastery, to which Bede came as a boy. Part of the church of that era (Anglo-Saxon) still stands, and in the photo you may see the original dedication stone, from 23rd April, AD 685.

I don't know why old stuff like this interests me so much, but it does. I like to walk around the places where these people lived, and imagine what their lives must have been like. If that day's weather is anything to go by - and this is "summer", they must have been tough!

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