5 January 2016

Mattersey

Mattersey is a village in North Nottinghamshire. Away from the main road, it is a peaceful place with a long history. There's an ancient church and some substantial properties that speak of the village's significance in past times. Certainly, its location - close to the navigable River Idle would have been important. Though the Idle is really just a large stream, it would have facilitated trade with the medieval port of Bawtry a few miles away and from there, The River Trent, The Humber and The North Sea.

Many times I have driven past the Mattersey road junction at nearby Everton but I had never been there till yesterday. I had a particular goal in mind and this involved driving along Abbey Road east of the village. Not the tarmacked Abbey Road made famous by The Beatles but a rough track with potholes and puddles.

For almost a mile I drove a bumpy, serpentine course at below ten miles an hour and then ahead I spotted my destination - Mattersey Priory - sometimes called Mattersey Abbey, rising out of the farmland and close to a bend in The River Idle. .Mattersey Priory - Link
The refectory at Mattersey Priory
Its construction commenced in 1185. The small Gilbertine priory was home to a dozen monks plus lay workers and for three hundred and fifty years it held economic and spiritual sway over the surrounding area. Of course there are no stone quarries thereabouts so the stone used to build Mattersey Priory must have been brought on rafts from Bawtry. It was probably extracted from quarries at Maltby - some twelve miles away.
Abbey Farm rises behind this stone pillar - once part of
the priory's church. You can see how stones from
the priory have been used to build the farmhouse's gable end wall
To the right you can make out the nearby River Idle
Like other monastic settlements, the priory's power and very existence stuttered to a halt during the reign of Henry VIII and it was left in ruins. No doubt many of the original stones were purloined by local builders and I am sure that many were used to build the adjacent Abbey Farm. That's how it was in past centuries. Many historical buildings were treated like stone quarries. The same thing happened to lots of disused Greek and Roman structures.

I was alone at Mattersey Priory, wandering about the ruins. Not many people are as daft as me - weaving along a dirt track in early January after the wettest December on record just to see a pile of stones. But those stones sing eloquently of past times... the monks, religious belief, survival, superstition, government and the babbling River Idle, weaving its way to Bawtry and beyond in times when The Americas and Australia were undreamed of and our world was not only flat but the epicentre of the entire universe.

24 comments:

  1. I enjoy piles of stones. I love piles of free stones the N.T. are a bit expensive and their fences are getting higher.

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    1. You will have to take up pole vaulting Adrian... and I am not talking about young women from Warsaw!

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  2. Such a beautiful place, thank you for sharing this. Warm greetings!

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    1. You atre welcome Blogoratti.

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  3. This looks very much like my kind of place, although I think I would prefer a less muddy time to visit.
    I remember how impressed I was with Byland Abbey last year.

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    1. I have never been to Byland Abbey Meike but I guess that it was a much bigger and more significant abbey than Mattersey. I know you have visited lovely Fountains Abbey a few times but what about Rievaulx? That's a special place.

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    2. Not been to Rievaulx yet, but it is on my (very long!) list of places in Yorkshire I want to visit.

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  4. These places are one of the reasons I love the UK so much. ( I know you are not fond of the term YP - UK I mean - but I'm afraid that's how I think of it.)

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    1. If you are going to refer to Great Britain as UK, HH then I shall refer to Australia as AI (Australia Island).
      From YP in SY, GB, EU.

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  5. I wonder how that stone column set in the wall has survived intact for so long? It doesn't seem to show any sign of wear and tear.

    Getting the stone from Bawtry must have been a pain. Wouldn't they have been better going to Jewsons in Retford?

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    1. Back in those days, Jewsons did not exist Mr Parrots. It is a fairly old company that began in 1836 but that was more than six hundred and fifty years after Mattersey Priory was founded. Regarding the column, I have a feeling that Victorians may have interfered with the ruins somewhat - possibly those damnable Jewsons!

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  6. In reading about the priory, it seems you were not the only one to make the dreadful trek to that site. Even in the 1200's, records show that the path was so bad to get there that only a goat cart could make it!

    And, the River Idle has a wonderful history also. Thanks for the history lesson for the day, Mr. Pudding. Very interesting!

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    1. Are you calling my car a goat cart MT?

      I agree that The Idle does indeed have an interesting history. Nearby Bawtry was one of England's foremost inland ports in medieval times and that was because of The Idle. When the main east coast rail track was laid right past Bawtry, they diverted the river and you can see this clearly via Google aerial imaging. Of course by that time it was no longer a port.

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  7. Magnificent old ruins. The only magnificent old ruin we have hereabout is me!!

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    1. Do you have eminent archaeologists clambering all over you Lee? Perhaps they should send in a study team to collect samples.

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    2. Hahahahaha! They'd be brave...or foolish to even try! lol

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  8. I love this post. I too would walk happily through the cold and mud to see this . My real desire in life was to be an archeologist. Instead I became a Social Worker. So if I lived in the UK this would be the type of thing I would love to do. I always enjoy your walks and the history lesson, very enjoyable thank you Yorkie.

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    1. You are welcome Leisha. So sorry your boots got muddy on this expedition.

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  9. Fascinating! How do you FIND these places?!

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    1. How do I find them? One thing leads to another... I love maps and I contribute to the geograph project. Why don't you consider joining geograph Steve?

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  10. 23 years since i sat on the stones breast feeding my daughter , time flies and its funny that a place where you felt contented sticks in your mind

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    1. Thanks for calling by Kate. It's nice to hear that this post brought back such a lovely memory.

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  11. Hello,
    I always enjoy your photos, Mr. Pud, but perhaps most especially your photos of monastic ruins. Although the deadline is long past, I would like to submit a nomination for the upcoming Laughing Horse Awards, and hope that you will accept the accolades.

    That said, I write with a small story for you, and with it a request: I once purloined a lovely photo of yours (if indeed, it was yours) that I found had remained on my desktop, inadvertently and felicitously transferred. The fine photo was of two very fine buildings in good repair - erstwhile work buildings at a monastery in the lovely fresh green of an English spring- and it made brilliant "wallpaper" for my computer. Yesterday, as mysteriously as it had once appeared, it simply vanished.

    Now, you must understand that I am writing to you because I have always admired (and credited you with) that photo, although I no longer remember if, indeed, you were the photographer. "So why write, then?" Curious, curmudgeonly, or outright cranky, well you might ask: I thought it might interest you to know what happened to one of your much-appreciated photos (if not yours, whose?!). I hope that you will instantly recognise the photo in question (surely outstanding amongst your thousands, no?); and I am hoping, as well, that from my feeble description that you will know instantly: a.) that it was, indeed, your photo, b.) that you might know where to look for it, and c.) given time for my foolishness, you might consider sending me a reference to the blog in which it appeared, so I can restore it to my desktop, continue to admire and credit you for having not only taken the photo in the first place but shared it (if, indeed, you did), and not less, so I can derive from it the ever-fresh lift of seeing the lush green landscape of your countryside.

    If I am asking the impossible, please disregard everything else herein in except the "thank you" for the photos on your blog (and I think your Laughing Horse awards are something else, as well).

    I always look forward to following your steps, and marvel that you, like "Meike - From my Mental Library" are so very good at seeing and sharing what you find in the space around you.

    Happy New Year, McGregor

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    1. Thank you for this nice comment McGregor. It pleases me enormously to think that one of my pictures has been used as wallpaper on a computer in the middle of the Canadian prairieland. I have visited several monasteries even though my private behaviour could not be described as monkish! I wonder if you are thinking about my post on Monk Bretton Priory near Barnsley?
      If so, go here:-
      http://beefgravy.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/priory.html
      You are welcome to use the picture. Please get back to me if it is not the post you were thinking of.
      Best wishes, Neil (Yorkshire Pudding)

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.