Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Belmont Abbey, Herefordshire

The abbey church of St Michael is part of a modern-day catholic foundation. I came here first in 1972 and this was my only visit since. How the area has changed, even the entrance to the grounds from the Abergavenny road just outside of Hereford is blocked off and the whole site - once a school - is now occupied by housing. The church lingers on by the side of a minor road at the back of all this development and is still served by Benedictine monks. The abbey buildings survive too to the south of the church. The church is by E W Pugin 1854-60, the tower completed by Pugin & Pugin in 1882, and it served as a cathedral for Wales 1855-1920.
I was still at school in 1972 and made a bad mistake of walking out from Hereford to see the abbey. It took so long I was so worried about getting back for my train home that I had to rush round the church . However sensing my "distress" a friendly monk chatted to me in the church, invited me to the refectory for a cup of tea and cake before taking me in his old car to the station well in time for my train home. Acts of unexpected kindness like this have remained with me over the years.

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