Blanche Parry

DORE ABBEY NOTICES

Please check the Dore Articles for further information on these aspects of Dore Abbey.

See also the Dore Abbey Guidebook, which has superb illustrations, and 'A Definitive History of Dore Abbey' edited by Ron Shoesmith & Ruth E. Richardson, 1997 (some copies still available from the Treasurer of The Friends of Dore Abbey). Notices ©Ruth E. Richardson 2010 – information may be used with acknowledgement.

THE MEDIEVAL CISTERCIAN ABBEY

ALTAR – The stone altar, or mensa, standing on three reused Abbey columns is the Cistercian Abbey altar it has five consecration crosses. Saint Thomas Cantilupe, Bishop of Hereford, is said to have consecrated the Church in 1282 protected by soldiers as his right to do so was disputed by Bishop Thomas Bek of St. David's. The oak inset is where the medieval Holy Relic venerated by the priest in the Mass was embedded in 1282. When the Church was reconsecrated in 1633 the Bishop of St. David's deputised for the Bishop of Hereford. The Communion table in the southern ambulatory, made for this 1633 ceremony, was replaced when this altar was rediscovered being used to salt meat in a nearby farm, very probably the former Abbey farm, now Tan House Farm.

ABBEY CRAFTSMEN – Unusually there are two instances of named craftsmen who worked here:

  1. A medieval tile, 6.5 inches square, of an angel blowing a trumpet has a circular inscription: Martin me fecit ... translated as Martin made me

  2. The text by the main door, from the second group of texts, is surmounted by William ...er of H.....rd, painter, 1701 ... that is William ? of Hereford...

The three bosses of a boy, man and greenman may depict the same person if so, he knew the medieval Abbey well – perhaps he was a mason here.

CAPITALS and GARDENS – Capitals decorating the pillars were beautifully painted in bright colours depicting mainly stylised foliage and leaves known as stiffleaf (a widespread Early English form of decoration) and scallop designs. Cistercians were skilled gardeners and noted water engineers. They saw work as a form of prayer following the instruction of Saint Benedict: ora et labora ...pray and work. The Abbey was probably surrounded by small enclosed gardens planted to provide plants for food, medicines, flavouring, meditation and to strew in church and the domestic buildings. The medieval Abbey had gardens outside and pillars with sculpted foliage inside.

COLOURED WALLS – All Churches were colourful but the plastered walls in the austere Cistercian abbeys were painted simply with red, cream, black and yellow lines or chevrons (zig zags), drawn on a white background traces of the medieval wall colour can be seen in the ambulatory and on many of the loose stones. Later, Dore Abbey may have had pictures on the walls as a manuscript, attributed to Abbot Adam (1186–c.1216) listed Biblical subjects for use in Churches and Cathedrals. Bare stone walls would appear very unfinished to the monks.

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