Sunday, 18 January 2015

Holiday IV St Benet's Abbey and Ranworth Rood Screen

On the final full day of our holiday we went west into the Broads.  We parked up at the rather suburban looking South Walsham Broad and walked along the Fleet Dike to see the ruins of St Benet's Abbey.  The remains of abbey were a favourite with Romantic artists such as Cotman, and were included in John Betjeman's 1974 documentary, 'A Passion For Churches', which was as much about Norfolk as it was the diocese of Norwich. (Produced and directed by Edward Mirzoeff, who was also responsible for Betjeman's 'Metro-land' of 1973.) Quite good reasons then for a long, cold muddy trek into the marshes!

We then stopped off at the 'Fairhaven Woodland and Water Gardens', the creation of Major Henry Boughton.  Major Boughton was the younger brother of the 1st Lord Fairhaven, who lived at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire mentioned elsewhere in this blog and where the bf works.  Our final visit of the day was to Ranworth and one of the great pieces of English late Medieval art, the Ranworth Rood Screen.  I'm tempted to call it a prime example, along with the Despencer Retable, of the 1st Norwich School; certainly it was painted locally.  The importance lies not only in its design but that so many of the painted panels survived the Reformation in such good nick.  A marvel.

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