Eleventh July Blog


Elleventh July Blog.

Norman Churches.

Harold lost the fight
To Guillaume, it is true,
And what did we get in return,
Stone churches, one or two.
Well, here in Southern England,
You’ll see them, far and wide.
All of them just look the same,
Sanctuary, where one could hide.
Made of stone, grey flecking,
It looks part flint, you see,
Quite often crenelated,
A lookout post, maybe?
Most towns often have one,
Another close by, as well.
Not sure why there’s so many,
Perhaps to give us, Hell?
Some time, in an old century,
I do not know which year,
A clock was often added,
We worship, in Godly fear.
Windows, plain and patterened
With Saints, and Jesus too,
Glass stained with many colours,
A rich, rewarding hue.
So thank you, Norman Conquest,
For making us write lists, like
Counting sheep and pigs and chicks,
The Doomsday Book, a hit.
But thank you for the churches,
Surviving war and flood
And pestilence, about them,
In the end, you did some good.

Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. July, 2015.

Yes! The Normans had a lot to answer for. Guillaume le Bâtard, conquérant est une biographie de Guillaume le Conquérant (1027-1087), duc de Normandie et roi d’Angleterre, par l’écrivain Jean de La … Etc. ad infinitum. No, I ido not read French but I suspect it says something like Bill the Conq. who crossed the Channel and kicked our arses ( pardon e moir ) in 1066.

What started this fight, I have no idea ( lost in my brain in the annals of Time) but it sure did us no good, at the time – but got them whole new Provinces to be evil over. Well, they were, in those days. It wasn’t all ‘move over sonny, let your new French pal take possession of your land, your pigs, your cattle ‘ all nice like! I suspect there were rebellious Saxons who fought back, but were eradicated. If the indigenous peoples complained, make an example of them. That was how it was done.

The Normans were very good at taking possession/s. I suppose all conquerers did that as a dominence thing. So, The Doomsday Book was born. Apparently, so I hear tell by greater minds than mine, that they loved to make lists, keep themselves as the upper classes and build castles, to make sure us Saxons did as they told us, and built churches, lots of churches.

Well, they did well, didn’t they? Those churches, most of them, are still standing!

The designs from Europe worked perfectly, to have lasted ( given the odd bomb or two during WW2) almost 800 years ( a lot were built in the 13th century – not sure if some were built a bit sooner -takes a while, considering tools, materials and labour of the day).

I guess some have been slightly altered, re, stained glass windows and modern lifghting, heating and all mod cons. But basically, the outer parts, the real solid parts of these churches remain as they were built, asfar as I can tell. I am not an expert, just an observer.

Taken from Wikki
Viking invaders arrived at the mouth of the river Seine in 911, at a time when Franks were fighting on horseback and Frankish lords were building castles. Over the next century the population of the territory ceded to the Vikings, now called Normans, adopted these customs as well as Christianity and the langue d’oïl. Norman Barons built timber castles on earthen mounds, beginning the development of motte-and-bailey castles, and great stone churches in the Romanesque style of the Franks. By 950 they were building stone keeps. The Normans were among the most travelled peoples of Europe, exposed to a wide variety of cultural influences including the Near East, some of which became incorporated in their art and architecture. They elaborated on the Early Christian basilica plan, longitudinal with side aisles and an apse, and a western façade with two towers as at the Church of Saint-Étienne at Caen begun in 1067, which formed a model for the larger English cathedrals beginning some twenty years later.

A Norman arch c. 1150 in Andover, Hampshire

A Norman arch with zig-zag mouldings above the church doorway at Guiting Power, Gloucestershire
In England, Norman nobles and bishops had influence before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and Norman influences affected late Anglo-Saxon architecture. Edward the Confessor was brought up in Normandy, and in 1042 brought masons to work on Westminster Abbey, the first Romanesque building in England. In 1051 he brought in Norman knights who built “motte” castles as a defence against the Welsh. Following the invasion Normans rapidly constructed motte-and-bailey castles, and in a burst of building activity built churches and abbeys, as well as more elaborate fortificationsincluding Norman stone keeps.
Thought I had better include the above information. Sufficeit to say, most are still used as the churches they were meant to be, today. Some achievement!

Be safe, be aware and be happy.


4 thoughts on “Eleventh July Blog

  1. Another fab poem and interesting piece Evelyn. I don’t know if you’d be interested or perhaps have read the book by Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth? About the building of the Cathedrals in England and Europe. Not my usual reading material but it was a gift and I made myself pick it up. It is a huge book – 10 years work and research – but very interesting. A story with it too, not just facts. I have so many old movies I love, mostly B&W – too numerous to list. No all out favourite. Thanks 🙂

  2. Thank you very much Jane for reading and comnenting. Bless you. No, is the answet. Did once start watchng the series and got a sample of the book somewhere. But never read it. Just one od those things. Same as I loce Game of Throne, actually have the books. Just not enough time for all thisreading. Thank you also for the lovely comment on the poem. I do try,ha’

  3. Thank you so much Stevetanham. Bless you. I had not realised ( though in The Vikings, they tried to invade Paris, and in a historical programme I heard that Vikings were actually handed over Paris eventually) the these Vikings became what we know now as Normans. Darn! They got us twice then?

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