Wednesday, August 18, 2010

St. Kenelm

I seem to be a habitual church/cemetary goer......... and not as in, sitting in a pew for the Sunday service kind.  We are strapped for money and if my fascination wasn't enough before, it seems one can go for a nice outing to these places..... have a peaceful walk without much disturbance from others and do it for nothing.  Most often I end up learning something along the way of some of England's oldest and well preserved landmarks of time.

We stumbled upon the church of St. Kenelm one night with our windows rolled down in the car and heard the call of something bird like probably..... I'm not sure if it was an owl but could have been.  We stopped and listened and adjusting my eyes to the dark trying to see anything making the strange call while having no idea what was on the other side other than an awesome night sky with the top of the church forefront of view and of the city lights below the Clent hills behind....... we decided that it was a must to come back in daylight and so the other day, we did.

Walking around this church and grounds gave off feelings....the ones I get when around such history and/or activity.......not sure which or if both but it's a vibe of sorts.  Having no idea of St. Kenelms history, I thought it was just going to be a 'walk around' with a few shots of an old church but after starting the walk down a path adjacent to the church it felt like something more.  Could have been these strange markers or the air itself, I don't know.

The path started down a slight hill and then a set of land timbered steps down further and I realized there was water running..... but the steps came after finding this plaque that gave a hint of what this was about...
After getting to the bottom of the hill and steps this tree full of offerings and incense that usually come from a paganistic ritual explains a lot of why I was feeling as I was......  usually the energy of the activity itself leaves an essence and a vibe and I possibly was tuning into that.

It doesn't have to be pagan of course that someone would want to  leave a marker as in the ribbons above, it's just that it is usually best represented as pagan people tend to celebrate or honor in just these ways.  The wooden carved markers, I have no idea and can't find how they came to be rather the church, the Trust or a group.
I still however was unsure the significance of this and the plaque other than he was a Saint and he died probably near the spring.  Until I came upon a second marker.
 Okay, so this told me, not just died but murdered.  ''Wow'', is what I believe I said.  Wasn't until I got home where I was able to look up this history and this saint to find he was just a boy, or so legend has it and that he was a prince heir to be king.

Now, take St Kenelm's life which I've been reading;
He was Kenulph's son, the nobel king
Of Mercia. Now St Kenelm dreamt a thing
Shortly before they murdered him one day.
He saw his murder in a dream, I say . . .
                                                       Chaucer The Nun's Priest's Tale

The Legend

The small church of St Kenelm stands with a handful of houses in the village of Romsley, nestling in the Clent Hills in Worcestershire. The church was built in the 1400s on the site of an earlier religious settlement.
According to legend, following the death of the Mercian king Kenulph in c.819, his young son Kenelm became king at the age of seven. He was put under the watchful eye of his sister Quendryh and foster-father Askebert. But they were both plotting to kill the boy king. One attempt at poisoning him had failed, so it was agreed to take him hunting in the Clent Hills where he would meet some 'accident'.
The night before they left on their hunting trip Kenelm had a dream in which he climbed a large tree decorated with flowers and lanterns. From this high vantage point he could see the four quaters of his kingdom. Three bowed down before him but the fourth began to chop away at the tree until it fell. Kenelm transformed into a white bird and flew away to saftey. On waking the young king related his dream to his nanny, a wise old woman called Wlwen from Winchcombe, gifted in interpreting dreams. She wept, for she knew that the boy was destined to die.
Kenelm resigns himself to his fate and follows Askbert to the Clent Hills. It is here, while kneeling in prayer one evening, that the boy king is beheaded by Askbert and his body hidden under a thorn tree. Kenelm's spirit rises in the form of a dove carrying a scroll and flies away to Rome where it drops the scroll at the feet of the Pope. The message on the scroll reads: 'Low in a mead of kine under a thorn, of head bereaft, lieth poor Kenelm king-born'.
Missionaries are dispatched to England where they miraculously discover the body of Kenelm. On the slopes of the Clent Hills they encounter an old woman who tends a herd of cattle. One of her herd strays from the rest and stands guard by a thorn bush. Even though it does not eat or drink it never goes hungry. Taking this as a sign, the missionaries begin to dig and discover the boy's body. From this site a spring begins to flow. This is the legend of St Kenelm.  


Rogue said...

Have you thought publishing? When I read this stuff, I really do feel like i'm there viewing it beside you :)
You really do make me want to come spend 3 or 4 weeks in England/Scotland alone :)

Karla said...

It's absolutely what I would love to do with my photos, for sure... I can read a few writing blunders now that I'm reading this today.. I could fix it.. but eh!
Thanks Krishna.. I love small discoveries like this one..

bencorde said...

My God 819 is going back a bit. Things were pretty bad back then and royalty then was not a guarantee of keeping ones head any more than it would be for one of Henry V111th wives and hundreds of other royals who were butchered by our vile and treacherous forebears. In fact one of my own forebears was thrown off the cliffs at Tintagel by King Arthur for trying to hack his head off with a blunt sword after a night on the tiles. (If you believe this, read on).
A church near us at Branscombe is particularly spooky as one evening we all stopped outside to listen to what we thought was the choir singing so we went in but the bloody place was empty. So we went outside again and when we got to the same spot by the wall we could hear it again.We just stared at each other in disbelief. All four of us heard it. Thats eight eyes staring at each other in disbelief.

Karla said...

That's what I was thinking too Ben about the date...amazing when you run across a bit of history like that. I know it's there publicly but how do you find out about such places with a country rich in such things and without knowing beforehand of getting there. I was pleased with the find.
I've watched from time to time the T.V series about the Victorians and how they lived and often thought how tough it would be but also a wonderful, simpler life...but one has to wonder your life expectancy...And to go this far! As the saying goes "If walls could talk".. Blows my mind, I tell ya!

Are you serious about knowing your history that far back? I'd love to hear more of it!

I got a little shiver reading this about the Branscombe church... that would have been so eerily exciting!! That choir must have raised the roof at one time to leave such energy. I am a believer of such energies.
If we take the drive next week I may have to look up Branscombe..!

bencorde said...

Yes that bit was true and even though at the time I was a complete sceptic. If you make it down the narrow lanes go round to the back of the church above the valley and listen close to the walls. I'd be interested at the results.Branscombe itself is a magical lovely village and very romantic with good pub and beach restaurant, NT restored mill and smithy and bakery and walks all round.I took some stunning cliff photos not far from there on the coast path.Bloody steep mind and hundreds of steps.

bencorde said...

When I said eight eyes that was not true. It was seven. My friend Cyclops has only one eye in the middle of his head. (That was just a joke but its those sort of mad visuals that make me laugh)
The Church story was true but you're quite right to be sceptical about me knowing that far back. I only made it to 1542 so far. The King Arthur bit was another mad visual. Arthur was a legend but nobody has proved his existence as far as I know.

bencorde said...

I thought about nine eyes but that was too silly. Eleven maybe but not nine.

Karla said...

Yes, I guess I just choose to believe in the Aurthurian legends... And knowing it is a legend but still...considering that there are people that really know a family history could possibly take it back, legend or not..

The village sounds so great! I really do want to go to all the places you've mentioned.. I hope we can swing it next week!

Did you count four eyes for the glasses wearers?

bencorde said...

No they were all cross-eyed people with one eye on the chimney and the other on the pot. Spec savers are useless for those sorts. Takes yer money and robs yer blind. Or at least you may as well be with spec saver rubbish.I get high quality ENGLISH made lenses from an independent optician who has a very sexy receptionist come assistant. That could sound rude but it's not meant to