Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Bourne Abbey Church

Bourne Abbey today.  The remains of the Arrouasian house of St Peter & Paul founded in 1138 by Baldwin de Clare brother of the Earl of Pembroke.   It was never very big but was under continual aristocratic patrons, starting with the Wakes & then the Hollands.  This pattern of patronage, which also included Joan the Fair Maid of Kent, culminated in Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII.  In her first will her intention was to be buried at Bourne with her 2nd husband, Edmund Tudor, who was then buried in the Greyfriars churuch in Carmarthen; in the end she was interred in Westminster Abbey and her husband remained in Wales (though moved to St David's cathedral).  The abbey was dissolved in 1536.  The nave which had always been used by the parish was retained by them and the rest demolished.  The monastic quarters that were to the north of the church became a private residence. They were not finally demolished until the nineteenth century. The grandest part of the church is the mighty west front; an incomplete attempt to create a two towered facade. Like many Early English facades it is very flat.  I put it's unfinished state down to structural problems - hence the great buttress added later and blocked windows.  The three central lancet windows are Victorian, replacing a single great Perp window.  The west door below is too a late Medieval insertion.  The bell stage of the tower and the clearstorey are of the same period.  Tempting to assign them to the patronage of Lady Margaret, but there is no evidence, alas, for her involvement.  Inside the west end is almost, spatially, a western transept.  The south side is the most picturesque, with a porch and a truncated transeptal chapel.  The chancel is I think post-reformation.  there are a number of good gravestones in the church yard and standing forlornly in a corner the former Grammar School building.  The interior is a vast, big-boned and a bit empty.  It was restored in 1868-9 by Edward Browning, son of Bryan so beloved of this parish.

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