December 28: A Church In Threads

2016/12/28 § Leave a comment


On this day in 1065 the rebuilt St. Peter’s Abbey was consecrated.

Twenty-three years earlier, Edward the Confessor had started repairing the church for Benedictine monks and in anticipation of its eventual use as his burial place.  Although it was was not quite finished, the building’s consecration came in the nick of time, as Edward died about a week later, on January 5.  The appearance of Edward’s church is recorded in one single place, the Bayeux Tapestry, which records lots of details about his successor, Harold II, and that trouble-maker William the Conqueror.  Both of them were probably crowned in the abbey church, in that heady year, 1066.

St. Peter’s was demolished by Henry III in 1245, in a curious act of vandalism-cum-memorial, as he wrecked the church in order to build a proper (?) shrine to the Saxon king, Edward.  (This has something of the ring of Julius’ demolition of Constantine’s church on the grounds that it was not Roman enough.)  It’s regrettable that the maybe-first-Norman-Romanesque church in England was lost, but at least it wasn’t replaced with something stupid like a parking lot or something truly horrid like a Brutalist dentist’s office.  In fact, the thing that stands there now is really pretty nice.

Image: “Here the body of King Edward is carried to the Church of Saint Peter the Apostle” (from this source)

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