Inside Bath Abbey

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I had a nasty feeling about Bath Abbey… just how on earth was I supposed to capture everything on camera to share the beauty of the place… ? It is huge…tall…airy…

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…as if  its builders wanted to capture the light of their heaven and carry the pilgrim ever   upwards…

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Yet, at the same time, it is glowing with colour. Fifty two windows, tier after tier of both plain glass and stained, make up eighty percent of the walls. The light is the first thing that strikes you when you walk in. If I had to sum up the initial impression in a single word, I would say ‘clarity’.

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There is also memory… carved memorials cover the walls and floors, some simple, some as ornate as you can imagine. Nearly fifteen hundred of them, covering hundreds of years… both residents and visitors who loved Bath; ordinary folk, clergymen and those whose names have touched history, both worldwide and, like Beau Nash, within the city itself.

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For all the light and airy feel, the more intimate spaces of the Abbey still nestle in a silent shadow more conducive to contemplation of the sacred. The little chapels and the font seem almost set apart from the grandeur of Scott’s restorations.

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There is a peace about them, and in spite of their ornate beauty, an indefinable air of simplicity that cannot be seen, only felt…as if the faith of the faithful hangs in the air around them, defying the outer form and knowing only the essence if its intent.

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Behind the baptismal font that welcomes new life into the Church, countless memorials seem to marry past, present and future in an unbroken line of worship.

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 Close to the High Altar, a small, enclosed chapel of frozen stone offers sanctuary an oasis of peace, even when the Abbey is otherwise busy.

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In the south transept  a towering Dream of Jesse window by Clayton & Bell, 1872, commemorates the recovery from typhoid of the prince who would become King Edward VII, and also serves as a memorial to Robert Scott.

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Like the great windows at East and West, it is too high, too big, too vast to see and encompass… and it was only the recumbent figure that told me the story it portrayed. The other windows, beneath the vaulting of the aisles, seem more accessible.

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If I have a personal favourite, it is the scene from the Last Supper window by Burlison & Grylls c.1914, where the Magdalene anoints the feet of Jesus while he teaches the eleven disciples. She weeps as she dries His feet with her hair.

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Above the altar, fifty six scenes from the life of Jesus are depicted in great detail. What is as amazing as the sheer scale of this window is to realise that this, along with many others, were shattered during WWII by bomb blasts… one fragment travelled to Canada in the pocket of an airman… yet to look at the Abbey today, you would never know the chequered past it has seen and survived.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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23 Responses to Inside Bath Abbey

  1. Great pictures, Sue

    Big hugs

    john

    Like

  2. Rajiv says:

    Cool… Especially the top one. Fantastic perspective

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  3. alienorajt says:

    Lovely images, Sue – brings it back with delightful vividness. xxx

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  4. Mary Smith says:

    It’s quite astonishing. You’ve done brilliantly to capture so much of it in your photos.

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  5. …phenomenal photography (as usual)! 🙂

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  6. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Eliza Waters says:

    It must have made quite the impression when it was first built, as most cathedrals were dark, gloomy affairs. It’s remarkable how seemingly little support there is for that massive roof. The miracles of advanced engineering.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. macjam47 says:

    You needn’t have worried, because these photos are evidence of the serenity and beauty within the walls of this incredibly massive and stunning church.

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  9. What an amazing place of worship! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. You did a superb job of capturing It! Thanks for taking us along!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Stacy says:

    Dear Sue,

    I was a visitor to Bath many years ago. Heartsick and troubled at the time, I stepped into the Abbey for a respite and found myself at the Last Supper window. I asked for help there and I received it. Thank you for your beautiful photos reminding me of that day.

    Like

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