27th August 2013: Byland Abbey and Ampleforth Abbey
We had a packed session, choosing to visit two Abbeys: one ruined, and one thriving.
Our first stop was Byland Abbey, an English Heritage managed site. Here we learned about the lives, beliefs and routines of Medieval Monks and Lay Brothers. We entered the Abbey church through the West Door, attempting to recreate some chants as we did so.
We studied the mix of architectural styles of the buildings: especially the different arch designs evident in the West wall. We also marvelled at the extensively preserved Medieval floor tiles present in the Abbey church.
Whilst in the Chapter House we talked about the Rule of Benedict, the chapters and the other matters probably discussed in this part of the Abbey complex. We even learned where the phrase ‘going on an adventure’ originates from: and contemplated trade networks between UK Monks and the European market.
After a picnic lunch we continued onto Ampleforth Abbey. Our arrival was met by a real-life Monk, and was rather fitting. During our explorations of the visitors centre we were able to hear some recorded stories of modern monks. Margaret even got the opportunity to try on a modern monk’s habit! Our visit ended with a tour of the Abbey Church, and an extensive hunt for mice (Ampleforth is famous for carvings produced by the Mouseman of Kilburn!).