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Abbeys and Priories in My Stories, Part 5

Monday, November 20th, 2023

Welcome, I am currently discussing the significance of the church in my West Country medieval mystery series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  Earlier in the year I spoke of prominent cathedral churches and important abbeys in my stories, and in the last four months, I discussed several lesser abbeys and priories in my first four books.

This month I will discuss other abbeys and priories that appear in my last three novels.  Joseph of Arimathea’s Treasure, my fifth book, mentions Kingswood and Tintern Abbeys, about which I wrote in recent posts, but it also uses St. Michael’s Priory atop Glastonbury Tor as part of the main story.  The picture at the top of the post shows me sitting on a bench with my husband, Lou, and Paul, one of my English cousins, after we had climbed toward the top of the Tor and the tower which is the only remaining part of the medieval priory.  The picture on the left shows me standing in front of the tower on another occasion much closer to it.

The Tor was a site of interest to pagan religions, but there is evidence of Christian activity on this site since the Saxon period.  Four wooden buildings on this site at that time have been interpreted as a church and monk’s hermitage.  The wooden church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1275 with a stone church replacing it in the 14th century.  The tower still standing is from that stone church of St. Michael’s Priory which is thought to have been a daughter house to Glastonbury Abbey at the time of my story.

Except for the tower, the church was dismantled in the 16th century when King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries where the last abbot of Glastonbury Abbey was murdered at the site of St. Michael’s.  An artist’s drawing of the medieval priory is shown on the right.

My sixth novel, King Richard’s Sword, uses a fictitious abbey, St. Martinminster, as part of its story, and this abbey is described in my book as a daughter house to Halesowen Abbey.  Halesowen was a real abbey which did have some daughter houses, but mine was fictitious.

King Richard’s Sword does mention a real abbey, St. Albans, the church of which survives today as St. Albans Cathedral.  Although the church did not become a cathedral until the 19th century, it survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries as a parish church.  It is unusual in that the Bishop of St. Albans is also the Rector of that parish.  The photo below of the exterior of St. Albans emphasizes the nave.  It is the longest nave in of any today’s cathedral churches in England.

St. Albans Abbey is mentioned in my story because Lady Apollonia arranges to send one of the characters, a boy named Elwin, to the scriptorium at St. Albans to enhance his future.  St. Albans is named after Alban who lived in Roman Britain.  He sheltered a priest fleeing persecution, was converted by that priest, then was killed by the Romans defending the priest, thus becoming Britain’s first Christian martyr.

A monastery was founded at St Albans as early as 793.  Work on a Norman church building began in 1073.  The central tower of the present church is the oldest crossing tower still standing in England.  The present church was completed over several centuries and includes much Gothic architecture.  The picture on the left shows the nave where you can see a combination of round Norman arches toward the crossing with Gothic arches in the bays that were added later.

Next time I hope to talk about saints, their relics, and the importance of pilgrimage in my stories.  Hope to see you then!

Abbeys and Priories in My Stories, Part 4

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

In this blog, I am continuing to discuss the significance of the church in my West Country medieval mystery series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I have spoken of prominent cathedral churches and important abbeys, and last month I discussed several lesser abbeys and priories in my third story, Memento Mori.

This month I will discuss monastic houses referred to in my fourth book, Templar’s Prophecy.  Most of the monasteries of England were destroyed during King Henry VIII’ s Dissolution in the 16th century as shown in the pictures in this posting which can only give an idea of ruins that have survived.  There are few monasteries mentioned in Templar’s Prophecy, but Cirencester Abbey plays a huge role in the story, and my posting on May 17 of this year is devoted to that abbey.  There is a link to that post in the May 2023 archive found below on the right.  I especially dealt with tension between the town and the abbey in the April 2022 archive below on the right.  Templar’s Prophecy also mentions the Gilbertines in Lincolnshire, but they are not part of this story.

The Knights Templar must be mentioned here because Templars were an unusual military order which appears in the title of my fourth book.  The Templars swore an oath of poverty, chastity, and obedience and renounced the world, just as the Cistercians and other monks did, but they were a military order created during the Crusades to protect pilgrims.  Like monks, the Templars heard the divine office during each of the canonical hours of the day and were expected to honor the fasts and vigils of the monastic calendar, yet they did not build abbeys and priories.  Instead, they built churches and castles, ran farms, and accumulated much land and wealth.  Above on the left you see the Templar Knight’s image that appears on the front cover of the paperback version of my book.

(By Martinvl – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93347474)

Only one other abbey is mentioned in this book, and it appears in a subplot, namely the decision of Lady Apollonia’a fifth son, David, to become a monk at Tintern Abbey.  This monastery was located in Wales along one bank of the River Wye before that river empties into the River Severn.  As the crow flies, it is only about ten miles north-northwest of Lady Apollonia’s home village of Aust, but David’s decision takes him far away from the Lady.

The ruins of Tintern Abbey, as shown above, are famous because of the great romantic interest which developed in recent centuries for the abbey ruins as well as the entire River Wye valley.  But Tintern was a significant abbey before the Dissolution in the 16th century.  The Cistercians traditionally built their monasteries away from towns and cities so that the monks would not be distracted from their work and worship.  A diagram of the medieval buildings of the working monastery is shown below.

David had purposely selected the rigorous life of a Cistercian monastery where monks lives were extremely strict in following the Rule of St. Benedict.  In 1395 his decision to become a monk at Tintern Abbey would have been ever more welcome because the number of monks had been seriously reduced by the waves of the Black Death that had swept over fourteenth century England.

See you next time.

(By Craster, O.E. – https://archive.org/details/tintern-abbey-official-guidebook/page/n26, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=115388479)

More Abbeys and Priories in My Stories, Part 3

Sunday, September 24th, 2023

In this blog, I am continuing to discuss the importance of the medieval church as found in my West Country medieval mystery series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I have already talked about cathedral churches and important abbeys.  Last month I discussed several other abbeys and priories in my second story, Plague of a Green Man.

This month I point out other monasteries referred to in my third book, Memento Mori.  Most of the monasteries of England were destroyed during King Henry VIII’ s Dissolution of them in the 16th century.  The pictures in this posting give an idea of some buildings and ruins that have survived.  Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset plays a role in my story, but it involves a subplot, not the main mystery.  The ruins of its Lady Chapel are shown above.  Saint Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester, however, does play a major role in the mystery story, and its ruins are shown in the next two pictures.  The first shows me with two friends, one from Indiana and the other a prominent local Gloucester historian, the second picture another view of the ruins.

Memento Mori mentions more monasteries than any other book in my series because Laston, the squire to Lady Apollonia’s fourth son, Alban, stays at the following abbeys and priories spread across southern England as he makes his way back from the Continent in search of the Lady.  Stops on his route include Boxley Abbey in Kent, Saint Mary’s Abbey at West Melling, Waverly Abbey in Surrey, the Priory of Selbourne in Hampshire, and Glastonbury Abbey in Somerset.  They are mentioned in this story, but they play no further role.

Saint Oswald’s Priory, on the other hand, is integral to the plot because of the evil doings of one of its monks.  This priory goes back to the late 9th century but diminished in importance after the 11th century.  Up until the rebuilding of Saint Peter’s Abbey in 1089, which became Gloucester Cathedral, Saint Oswald was the primary destination for pilgrims coming to Gloucester. After that, it became a minor house of Augustinian canons until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536.

Finally, the Gilbertine Order appears in Memento Mori when Brother William, Lady Apollonia’s Almoner, reveals the difficulties he experienced as a young man as a member of this order in Lincolnshire.  The order was founded by a priest named Gilbert who started it for nuns practicing the Cistercian Order in 1131.  Within a few years lay sisters, lay brothers and male canons had been added to the enterprise.

Gilbert sought help from the Cistercians in France to run his new order.  When they declined, he founded the Gilbertine Order by combining aspects of the Benedictine and the Cistercian Orders.  The Gilbertine Order is the only monastic order founded by Englishmen.  Although the two genders in the Gilbertine Order were separated except when attending mass, Brother William’s difficulties arose from the inclusion of both men and women in the order.

I hope to see you again next time.

More Abbeys and Priories in My Stories, Part 2

Friday, August 18th, 2023

In this blog, I am continuing to discuss important roles of the medieval church as found in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I have already talked about cathedral churches and important abbeys.  Last month I discussed other abbeys and priories in my first story, Effigy of the Cloven Hoof.

This month I want to shift to other monasteries in my second book, Plague of a Green Man.  Most of the monasteries of England were destroyed after King Henry VIII’ s Dissolution of them in the 16th century.  The pictures in this posting give an idea of a few buildings and ruins that have survived.  Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire, Saint Katherine’s Priory, and Saint Nicholas Priory in Exeter play a role in my story, but in each case, it involves a subplot, not the main mystery.

I begin with Hailes Abbey, a Cistercian abbey founded in 1246, which was famous for its relic, a phial of the Holy Blood of Jesus.  Hailes Abbey buildings are now just ruins, as shown in the picture above.  The only surviving building is the small church for the parish of Hailes.  Its exterior is pictured next.  Some of the medieval art that decorates its walls is shown below on the left.

Three of the characters in Plague of a Green Man are based on those created by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath, the Pardoner, and the Prioress.  Brandon Landow is my version of Chaucer’s Pardoner.  At one point, Landow goes to Hailes Abbey to study carefully the relic of the Holy Blood, so that he can construct a fake version of it to sell for his own personal gain.  Landow, who displays many of the undesirable characteristics of Chaucer’s Pardoner, has proved to be a favorite of my readers.

Saint Nicholas Priory in Exeter was founded in 1087 by monks from Battle Abbey as a Benedictine monastery and is located just west of the medieval city center.  At the Dissolution, the church and chapter house range were destroyed, but parts of the north and west ranges survive with the west range now serving as a museum, pictured on the right.  Hospitality was an important function of many monasteries including Saint Nicholas Priory, and it was there that Brandon Landow stayed in my story when his journeys as a pardoner took him to Exeter.

Saint Katherine’s Priory is the setting for the seventh chapter of Plague of a Green Man.  It is also known as Polsloe Priory because in medieval times it was in the suburb of Polsloe, to the east of Exeter.  The modern city includes Polsloe and extends well beyond it.  A picture of the one building to survive the Dissolution is shown below.

This priory was founded in 1159 as a Benedictine nunnery, at the time the only nunnery in Devon.  The building shown below fell into private hands and was passed to the City of Exeter in the last century.  I have based Clementine, the prioress of Saint Katherine’s Priory, on Chaucer’s prioress, so I hope when you read Chapter Seven you will imagine the interesting visit of Lady Apollonia with my version of the prioress.

See you next month.

More Abbeys and Priories in My Stories, Part 1

Tuesday, July 18th, 2023

In this blog, I am continuing to discuss important roles of the medieval church as found in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I began presenting the medieval church with cathedrals, then focused this spring on Glastonbury and Cirencester Abbeys.  This month I would like to shift to other abbeys and priories and their services to travelers that are part of my stories.  All the monasteries of England were destroyed after King Henry VIII’ s Dissolution of them in the 16th century.  The pictures in this posting give some idea of what few buildings and ruins have survived that event.

Let us begin by looking at monastic houses that were in my first story, Effigy of the Cloven Hoof.  These are Lacock Abbey, Kingswood Abbey, Stogorsey Priory, and Dunster Priory.  Lady Apollonia encounters Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire as a young teenager after the unexpected death of her first husband.  She finds her visit there to be very helpful to her in overcoming the trauma of that event.

Lacock Abbey survives to the present day because it was sold to Sir William Sharington at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  Before that, the abbey was a nunnery, founded in 1229 by Ela, the widow of an illegitimate son of King Henry II.  Sharingon added to the original buildings in creating his residence, which has been improved over the years, to what exists today.  A picture of the main entrance is shown above.  Other buildings of the nunnery still exist, such as the brew house which appears in the background of this picture.  The courtyard of the house is shown below.

Lady Apollonia’s contact with Lacock Abbey occurred early in her life.  The other three monasteries mentioned at the beginning of this posting are part of the mystery story in Effigy of the Cloven Hoof.  Kingswood Abbey appears early in the plot as the place where the remains of a victim are taken after being discovered near Aust.  The abbot was eager to have the body of the deceased because the abbey had earlier turned down an opportunity to house the body of King Edward II which became a great pilgrimage site in nearby Gloucester Abbey.

Kingswood was a Cistercian abbey, less than 20 miles east of Aust, founded in 1139 by William of Berkeley.  After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, little was left of its original buildings.  The gatehouse, appearing in the picture on the left, was built after my story was set, and is the only remnant remaining.

Two priories are places where Lady Apollonia stayed when journeying from Aust to the fictitious village of Cliffbarton in Somerset and back.  On this journey, she stayed with her middle son, Thomas, in Axbridge, Somerset, one day’s ride on horseback from Aust.  Stogursey Priory was a day’s ride from Axbridge.  Located near Bridgewater, Stogursey was a Benedictine Priory founded around 1100.  The picture shown on the right, courtesy of Robert Cutts, is of the interior of the Stogursey Priory Church.

The next stop for Lady Apollonia, going to and coming from Cliffbarton, was at Dunster Priory.  Its one remaining building is shown below.  This Benedictine priory was established around 1100 as a cell of Bath Abbey.  It is worth noting that, on the nights when Lady Apollonia did not stay with family, monastic houses along her route would have provided accommodation for the travelers.  Medieval travel was frequently based upon personal contacts and connections.  There were inns and hostels in communities but not the abundance of motels and various accommodations available on our modern highways.

Next month I will move on to discuss monastic houses in other books in my series.

Blog Holiday

Friday, June 30th, 2023

My blog has been on holiday in June, but we expect to be posting again in July.

Cirencester Abbey in One of My Stories

Wednesday, May 17th, 2023

In this blog, I am currently discussing the medieval church as found in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I began with medieval cathedral churches, then focused last month on Glastonbury Abbey, one of the wealthiest and most important abbeys at the time of my stories.  This month I would like to shift to another English monastic church, Saint Mary’s Abbey in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.  This abbey plays a major role in my fourth book, Templar’s Prophecy.

Unlike Glastonbury Abbey, there are no ruins surviving above ground for the monastic buildings that once stood in Cirencester.  A model of the medieval monastery, shown above, is on display at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.  Some of the original abbey walls still exist as does one of the gates, the Norman Gate which is shown just below.  The abbey wall next to the parish church is shown beyond that.   Even further below is the grass parkland where the abbey church stood.  Flat stones outline the church walls while the bases of the interior columns are just visible.

The present abbey church was begun in 1117 with help from King Henry I.  It was dedicated in 1176 and was already an Augustinian monastery on the site of what is reputed to be the oldest known Saxon church in England.  Throughout the 12th and 13th centuries, it became more powerful, wealthy, and began to dominate the local economy, controlling the local markets for example.

This led to tension between the abbey and the town in the 14th century, much of which came to a head in the last decade of that century when Templar’s Prophecy is set.  This tension between the monastery and townsfolk is something I have described in my novel.  Many of the monks of Saint Mary’s Abbey play significant roles in this story, more so than monks in any of my other Lady Apollonia books.

Saint Mary’s Abbey in Cirencester ceased to exist in 1539 with King Henry VIII’s dissolution of all monastic institutions.  The stone buildings represented in the model at the top of this posting were thoroughly quarried and reused locally.  Some of the stone went into Abbey House which was built and later rebuilt on the grounds of the abbey.  Abbey stone also went into other buildings in town, some of which have signs to indicate this reuse.

Other traces of the abbey can be found in and around Cirencester.  A dovecot and an abbey tithe barn, shown above, can be found on the outskirts of the town at Barton Farm.  Such buildings were valuable for use apart from the monastic enterprise and often survived the dissolution of the monasteries.

There are numerous steams running through the town and into the abbey grounds.  These are reminders that Cirencester Abbey, like many monastic institutions, was quite dependent on water, not just for daily life in the abbey but also to run its mills.  A picture of one of these streams is shown below.

Recently, I have talked about major medieval monastic churches in my stories.  Next month, I will describe some of the lesser monastic institutions known to the Lady Apollonia in her 14th century adventures.

Glastonbury Abbey in “Joseph of Arimathea’s Treasure”

Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

In this blog, I am currently discussing the medieval church as found in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I began with medieval cathedral churches and focused last month on Gloucester Cathedral which was only elevated to cathedral status more than a century after my stories.  This month I would like to shift to important English monastic churches, starting with Glastonbury Abbey in this posting.

Glastonbury Abbey plays an important role in Joseph of Arimathea’s Treasure, the fifth book in my Lady Apollonia Mysteries.  This abbey was extremely important in the late 14th century, rivaling Westminster Abbey in terms of its power and wealth.  The church building alone was 600 feet long.  Merely a few ruins of the church and the nearby monastic buildings remain today, but the picture above shows a couple sitting at the eastern extremity of the church ruins while another couple stands some distance away at the crossing to give us an idea of the actual size of the building.  Beyond them is the ruin of the west door with the small towers of the lady chapel beyond that.  The picture just below shows a model of the great abbey church with its adjoining monastic buildings before the dissolution and destruction of the monasteries by King Henry VIII.

The model indicates that much is known of the architecture of the church and of the Abbot’s Kitchen in the lower right corner of the picture; however, we know less about the other buildings in the immediate vicinity of the church.  The Lady Chapel at the western end of the church was the oldest section, begun in the Norman Period.  The picture below shows ruins of the Lady Chapel connecting on the right to the entrance of the church proper.  The nave of the church ruins shows some vestiges of the Norman architecture leading into the Gothic style which dominates the rest of the church.  Most of the church was built at the same time as nearby Wells Cathedral and probably shared some of the stone masons.

For background on Glastonbury Abbey, I refer you to the September 2017 archive of this blog to which a link is shown above on the right.  I published four articles that month about Glastonbury, including three on the abbey dealing with its buildings, grounds, and history.  You may find those an interesting supplement to this posting.  Several buildings belonging to the abbey survive to the present, but within the confines of the abbey itself, only the gatehouse and the Abbot’s Kitchen remain.  The Abbot’s Kitchen is shown above on the right.  Two interesting surviving buildings within the town pf Glastonbury are the Tithe Barn and the Pilgrim’s Inn, now known as the George Hotel and Pilgrim’s Inn.  The Tithe Barn plays a minor role in my story and is shown at the end of this posting.

An interesting aspect of the abbey’s history was the discovery by the monks, after a great fire in 1184 AD, of what they claimed to be the remains of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere in the abbey cemetery.  These remains helped stimulate the rebuilding of the church into the monumental church it had become at the time when Joseph of Arimathea’s Treasure was set.  The royal remains eventually were placed in a tomb in the quire of the new church and were a great attraction for medieval pilgrims.  Today, a sign in the ruins notes the final placement of those remains and is pictured on the left.

I hope to see you next month when I will continue my discussion of monastic buildings used in my stories.

Gloucester Cathedral in “Memento Mori”

Sunday, March 19th, 2023

In this blog, I am discussing the medieval church as found in Memento Mori, the third book in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I have begun with medieval cathedral churches and focused last month on Exeter Cathedral in Devon.  This month I will speak of Gloucester Cathedral, shown in the picture on the left.  Unlike Worcester Cathedral and Exeter Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral was not yet a cathedral church in 1392 when Memento Mori was set; instead, it was the church of the Abbey of St. Peter in Gloucester and was an important abbey church when Memento Mori was set.

The church didn’t become a cathedral until 1536 when King Henry VIII dissolved the abbey, carved a new Diocese of Gloucester out of the Diocese of Worcester, and made the abbot of the former Abbey of St. Peter the bishop of the new diocese.  The great church in Gloucester is among several monastic churches that became Cathedrals of the New Foundation at the time of King Henry VIII.

The abbey was an ancient foundation, first founded in 679 as a minster by Osric and became Benedictine at the beginning of the 11th century.  For a short time, it struggled and shrunk to just two monks but was important enough by 1085 that William the Conqueror held his Christmas Court in its chapter house.  That was when he ordered the creation of his Domesday Book.  Another king, Henry III, was crowned in the abbey church in 1216.

The nave is from the Norman period with the Norman quire upgraded to the Gothic style before the story within Memento Mori takes place.  The picture below shows the Norman nave as it looks today.  The vault you see in the picture below was added in the 13th century to the nave, built in the early 12th century, so this is much how the nave would have looked when Lady Apollonia visited the church in my story.

 

The upgraded Gothic quire includes an extraordinary east window, so large that it competes with the east window of York Minster for the largest stained-glass window in England.  The picture on the left shows it as my heroine might have viewed it on her way to visit the tomb of King Edward II which is located on the north quire aisle.  That tomb itself is pictured at the end of this posting.  King Edward II died, possibly murdered, in nearby Berkeley Castle.  His son King Edward III provided substantial funds for the conversion of the quire in Gloucester’s abbey church from its Norman architecture to the Gothic, a grand place to house the tomb of his father.

The Abbey of St. Peter plays other roles in my story.  The monastery had many other buildings and the infirmary, for example, plays a major part in my story.  Unlike the church which survives today as Gloucester Cathedral, some of these buildings have survived only as ruins.  The arcade, shown below, is all that is left of the infirmary.  I encourage you to read Memento Mori to see how I use the infirmary in the story.

I hope to have you check in again next month so that we can continue our discussions of Fourteenth Century England and the adventures of the Lady Apolonia of Aust.

 

 

Exeter Cathedral in my Stories

Saturday, February 18th, 2023

I am currently discussing, in this blog, the medieval church as found in my West Country Medieval Mystery Series, featuring my heroine, the Lady Apollonia of Aust.  I began with cathedrals and focused last month on Worcester Cathedral.  This month I will speak of Exeter Cathedral, shown in the picture which begins this posting.  Unlike Worcester Cathedral, which is a monastic cathedral, Exeter Cathedral is secular, that is, it has always been run by priests called canons who are not monks.  It shares this status with many other English cathedrals such as Salisbury, Wells, and York.

Plague of a Green Man is set in Exeter, and Exeter Cathedral plays a major role in the story told by that novel.  As I mentioned last time, cathedral churches get their name because each holds the throne or “cathedra” of the local diocesan bishop.  Exeter’s throne is an enormous medieval wood carving, the tallest in England, reaching almost the 68-foot vaulting overhead.  It is shown in the picture on the left.  The carver was probably illiterate, but his portrait and that of his wife are carved on the back side of the throne for all to see.

Exeter had a Christian church presence in late Roman times and an important minster church in the late centuries of the first millennium.  That Anglo-Saxon minster became a cathedral in 1050 when the diocese moved to Exeter from nearby Crediton.  Although the minster had originally been a monastic church, the first cathedral church in Exeter was run by secular canons.  Leofric became the first Bishop of Exeter.  His tomb effigy, which is found in Exeter’s Lady Chapel, is shown below on the right.  The new Diocese of Exeter included both Devon and Cornwall.

Work began on the second cathedral church in Exeter in 1117.  Its architecture was Norman, and its nave and transepts form the footprint for the present church building.  The Norman church was unusual because it had no central tower.  Two side towers defined the extent of the transepts.  These towers survive in the present Gothic church.  The picture at the top shows a Gothic window which was inserted into the north wall of the Norman north tower.

The present cathedral building, started in the 1270’s with the demolition of most of the Norman cathedral, save for the Norman towers and the wall of the nave below the present windows.  The new building was in Gothic architecture and is perhaps the best example of the English Decorated Gothic style.  That style is maintained throughout the building.  Because there is no central tower, the Gothic vaulting that runs from the west to the east of the main building, some 300 feet, is the longest Gothic vaulting in the world.  The beautiful tierceron vault is shown in the picture on the left.

The Cathedral Green served as the main cemetery of Exeter in medieval times.  In modern times people relax on the grass absorbing the sun, as shown in the picture below, but bodies were buried under that lovely grass at the time of Plague of a Green Man, set in 1380.  An interesting character in my novel is Eric Aunk whose job was that of pitmaker of the cemetery.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, Exeter Cathedral is near and dear to my heart since I served as a steward and tour guide there during the various years we lived in Exeter.  The picture below shows me thirty years ago with one of the cathedral vergers, sitting together in the bishop’s throne described earlier in this posting.

Next month I will describe another type of cathedral related to one of my stories.