Sunday, 27 March 2016
Jedburgh Abbey - Family Day Out
Since Good Friday was bright and less cold than of late (not actually warm, note) we set off on a trip to visit Jedburgh Abbey, in the Scottish Borders, which is about an hour and a half from here by car.
Very pleasant day. It seems odd to say this, but the Abbey is rather larger than it was last time I visited, since some more of it has been excavated following the demolition of some old housing near the river. The Visitor Centre is simple, but the audio-guided tour is excellent - recommended - giving a good overview of the history and a useful explanation of life in the place.
Architectural style is hybrid - the lower parts of the building are Romanesque, but the upper parts, which were added only 50 years or so later, are of a more Gothic style - fashions were changing. The builders were Augustinian "Black" Canons - this order was noted for involvement in towns and communities, so their buildings were usually less secluded than those of some of their contemporaries. The Abbey has traditionally been a church for the townspeople of Jedburgh as well as a retreat for the Canons, so has always had an important role in the life and history of the town.
Since Carter Bar and the English border are just a few miles down the A68, Jedburgh has always been right in the firing line whenever there was war or skirmishing raids, and the Abbey has taken a few severe kickings over the years. It's remarkable, really, that so much of it survives.
In more recent centuries, it has gradually been requisitioned as a burial ground by the prominent families of the area - notably the Kerrs and Rutherfords - and this results in a rather confused picture of the original working plan of the building - altars and fireplaces being shifted and altered to accommodate tombs.
Anyway - if you are around the area, it is definitely worth a visit - but go early in the day, to leave enough time for afternoon tea in the splendid little Chocolate House in the town (which closes at 4pm - the mysteries of Borders commerce?).
Nearer home, the bird feeders in our garden continue to be frantically busy. In addition to the usual suspects, we have seen a welcome return by a very vigorous family of Siskins (who have been absent for some years), and we are also delighted to see a few Greenfinches, who have been badly hit by a fungus disease in recent times, but show signs of recovery, in this area at least.
It also goes without saying that I am deeply indebted to the Contesse for her splendid photography.