Reblogged from Medieval Wanderings:
Over the summer I’ve been trying to make up for lost time by getting out to as many medieval sites as possible to physically reconnect with the past. Last weekend I fancied a bit of an adventure, so we set off on a journey to deepest Shropshire to explore the extensive ruins of a rather beautiful abbey. It was a trip well worthwhile, because whilst being bathed in some glorious early autumn sunshine I got to connect with a vital part of the medieval world. So come and join me on a wander of discovery around a rather splendid place, and peer through a window into another world of prayer, austerity, and for some, great luxury.
Back in the Middle Ages again, and happy…
Situated on a rocky hillside near Shrewsbury between the Roden and the Upper Severn rivers, Haughmond Abbey can trace its roots back to the 11th Century, when the remote and then thickly wooded rural site attracted a group of hermits keen to escape from the world (I know how they felt). In the twelfth century the community benefitted from the patronage of two local nobles, William FitzAlan and John Lestrange, both powerful marcher lords defending the Anglo-Welsh border for the English crown. Religion was central to life in the Middle Ages, and the fear of one’s immortal soul spending an eternity in purgatory – or worse – drove wealthy people to invest in religious institutions as insurance for the afterlife. The way to do that was to support, enhance, or even to found an abbey or monastery whose inhabitants would pray for your soul and secure your place on the right side of the pearly gates.
After 1130, the community at Haughmond adopted the Augustinian Rule, which meant that strictly speaking they were canons rather than monks. Unlike monks, canons were all priests. They went out into the wider community rather than being an entirely closed order, and they lived less austere lives than some religious houses. For instance, they didn’t believe in wearing scratchy woollen clothing like other monastic orders, so instead they wore linen, a cassock lined with sheepskin or fur for warmth and a distinctive long, black hooded outer cope, earning them the name of ‘Black Canons’.
Continue reading at Medieval Wanderings