Egglestone Abbey in spring.

This painting is the largest I have ever completed. It is of a local historic site cared for by British Heritage. It is free to visit and worth the time for visitors and locals alike. Siting just above the river Tees this Abbey is seen from the Teesdale Way and shorter local walks.

This view of the Abbey is seen from the minor road that turns right off Westwick Road driving from Barnard Castle. It is a well known view to walkers. This was a late spring scene the bush at the front is elder flower in bloom.

The painting was sold before it hit the Exhibition it was painted for which is always nice for the artist. As far as painting goes while painting I have tried to continue to establish my style. Which is artistic looseness with a high level of detail. The feature tree on the left foreground shows my love of detail and of trees. This painting as a whole displays my interest in our history and heritage.

The abbey originally known as, The Abbey of St Mary and St John the Baptist was founded at Egglestone between 1195 and 1198 for Premonstratensian canons. St Norbert had founded the Premonstratensian Order at Prémontré in France in 1121, adopting the rule of St Augustine and borrowing from the stricter Cistercians’ rule. The founders of Egglestone were the de Moulton family, whose title passed to the Dacres by marriage in 1314. The endowment of Egglestone was so small that early in the 13th century the Abbot of Prémontré deputed three of his English abbots to hold an inquiry to decide if the status of the abbey should be reduced to that of a priory.

Somehow the abbey remained its standing as an abbey, but poverty beset the canons throughout their history. They suffered particularly when the Scots ravaged Yorkshire in 1315 and at other times of war. Frequent remissions of taxes helped to maintain them. Rather like a poor artist never quite making enough to pay tax but hanging on anyway.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the site was given to Robert Strelley in 1548. He converted the east and north ranges into a mansion and installed a kitchen in the west range.

In 1770 Sir Thomas Robinson sold the abbey to John Morritt of Rokeby Hall. Morritt’s descendant placed the ruins in the guardianship of the state in 1925 and later returned a notable collection of architectural stonework, including the tomb of Sir Ralph Bowes of Streatlam (died 1482), which was re-erected in the church crossing and can be seen in this painting.

One historic local is conected to the Abbey as it is thought he recieved his local education there; John Whycliffe. He became an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century and is considered an important predecessor to Protestantism.

Wycliffe questioned the privileged status of the clergy which had bolstered their powerful role in England and the luxury and pomp of local parishes and their ceremonies.

Wycliffe advocated translation of the Bible into the common vernacular. Wycliffe’s involvement in such translation is disputed. However, according to tradition, Wycliffe is said to have completed a translation directly from the Vulgate into Middle English – a version now known as Wycliffe's Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament. while his associates translated the Old Testament.

Wycliffe's Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe's assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 and 1395. Wycliffe's later followers, derogatorily called Lollards by their orthodox contemporaries in the 15th and 16th centuries. They questioned the veneration of saints, the way the sacraments were viewed, along with requiem masses, and transubstantiation, even monasticism and most significantly the legitimacy of the Papacy. The Lollard movement is sometimes regarded as a precursor of the Protestant Reformation. I feel this link to a radical thinker who foreshadowed much important theological reform is enough to place Eggelstone Abbey high in the spiritual points of our area.

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