CREAKE ABBEY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                   

                                     Fig. 1

The abbey of St. Mary of the Meadows at Creake (Fig. 1) belonged to the most popular of religious orders in medieval Norfolk, the Augustinians. The abbey started out as a chapel in 1206 and shortly thereafter became a small hospital for Christian paupers. It then became a priory under the patronage of Henry III, before its elevation to an abbey. A terrible fire struck in 1484 and whilst money was forthcoming, including a generous payment from Richard III, the abbey was reduced in scale. Then, one by one, the canons died of plague and, finally, the abbot succumbed in 1506 and the abbey and its property passed to the Crown before Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, used the Creake estates to endow Christ’s college, Cambridge.  

 

 

 

 

                                                    

               

                   Fig. 2                                   Fig. 3

It was, again, a frozen February morning that I strolled around the remains, alone, trusty camera in hand. In truth, not much remains now, though the interaction of the arches can work well from certain angles, especially when warped (Figs. 2 & 3), but I nevertheless was able to use my imagination to good effect, as I could picture, as I wandered, not only the canons performing their tasks – from cellarer to infirmarian, from almoner to cantor – to praying to be spared the fatal pestilence, as I stood at where the High Altar would have been located. Although small, these ruins proved to be quite affecting and provide me with thoughts for my work.

 

I am not interested in showy things and that is why I like visiting these small, out of the way sites. I look for simple connections that convey the medieval, grand structures do not really impress me.

 

 

 

                                            

                  Fig. 4                                        Fig. 5

 

I took these images (Figs. 4 {north facing} & 5 {south facing}) of the stone work that lead from the nave into the ante-chapel; I just liked their arrangement and colour. I felt that there was something wonderfully medieval about them.

 

 

 

                                         

                 Fig. 6                                          Fig. 7

 

I came across these strange cuts in these two columns (Figs. 6 & 7) facing one another – presumably something to support doors or some form of bracing? I find that medieval buildings often have unfathomable features.

 

 

 

                                    

                  Fig. 8                                        Fig. 9

 

One thing I love to find is a block-up doorway. This doorway (Fig. 8) was originally between the Choir and the South Transept which, in turn, led to the Cloister (now private gardens). It is also nice to see the strange juxtaposition of a ruin being stripped from bottom to top (Fig. 9), not the other way around, which gives a strange, top-heavy appearance.