Mulcheney was one of the villages which suffered particularly badly in the flooding in 2012 and 2014, so I became used to seeing it on the news, but I have not ever had reason to visit. However, having recently joined English Heritage, we looked around to see what sites there were locally we might be able to visit, and decided on Muchelney.
|Muchelney Abbey and Abbot's House|
Muchelney Abbey was originally an Anglo-Saxon Abbey, (There is, apparently, a record of a grant of land by Cynewulf, in 762, then later (in the 10th C) it was re-founded as a Benedictine Abbey, before being dissolved under Henry VIII in 1538. It was never as powerful or well known as Glastonbury, but was pretty wealthy, and was responsible for draining much of the surrounding moors for farmland.
The majority of the buildings, including the Abbey church, were demolished after the abbey was dissolved, and a lot of the stone reused for building elsewhere. However, the Abbot's House (built in the late 15th / early 16th Century) survived, as did a small portion of the cloisters and parts of the kitchens, and a separate 'reredorter' (the monk's lavatories) also survives.
|The Abbot's 'Great Chamber'|
The wooden settles are 19th C. but incorporate some medieval panelling.
|Lion (from the carving above the fireplace in the Abbot's Great Chamber|
From the outside, the church seems fairly ordinary, however, inside, it is a different story!
When the Abbey was dissolved, some of the medieval tiles from the Abbey church were removed and re-used in the parish church, where they remain. And were decked with coloured light from the sunlight shining though the stained glass windows, when we visited.
Even more spectacular is the ceiling of the nave, in the church.
It is painted with wonderful, Jacobean angels and cherubim.
The ceiling was apparently painted in the early 17thC and is very unusual, both simply by having survived the Puritans, and based on the style - some of the angels are very feminine, which is unusual, and several are bare-breasted, it is believed that this is intended to symbolise innocence and purity.
It is stunning, and such an unusual thing to find in an English church (and because this is the Parish Church, and not part of the Abbey, it isn't mentioned in the English Heritage information about the Abbey)
It was fascinating.
We were not able to visit the Priest's House, originally built for the priest of the Parish Church in 1308 and almost unchanged since the early 17th C; it is now owned by the National Trust but is only open 2 days a week, and this wasn't one of them. It looks very pretty from the outside, though!
It was a grand day out!
(complete photoset on Flickr )