It is written.
Herefordshire is the sweetest county. It has no triumphant coast line, no conurbation, hardly any industry. Just rolling country side, high hedges, well tilled and husbanded acres. Fat sheep and healthy wheat, cider orchards and munching beef cows. Views that would shame the Dordogne or Tuscany .A ghost like frontier with once angry Wales. The gentlest of our grand rivers, the Wye. Villages which gracefully let the shadows pass, churches which record millennia as well as hours. Church yards groaning with imperial dead and yeomen free. Gardens that show the victory of the English climate, soil and soul.
And so to Abbey Dore. Remote and near the border.The French monks mistook the Welsh name for water Dwr and named it the Golden Valley. Here is a mini French abbey built in the 12th century Gothic style by the Cistercians. Bold, high and austere.
But when the soon to be royal minx, Anne made her demands for the last of her seven veils it was time ,1537,to dissolve the monasteries. Typically the local nobility led by the Scudamores were the first to pillage this Abbey,its lands and wealth. And so for a hundred years did the Abbey rot and lie fallow. But the Scudamores did not prosper. It was written.
The great, great grandson a friend of Archbishop Laud could not have a child. Miscarriage and death in infancy were the sad lot of the Viscount and his bride. He was advised to “ consider his conscience” in respect to living off the proceeds of land stolen from the monastery.
Scudamore restored the Abbey and placed inside it the most darling of parish churches with immaculate 17th century pews, chancels, screens and balconies. There is even as well as the coat of arms of Charles 1 ,a mural of Queen Anne’s insignia. So Baroque, one can almost hear the chamber music echo across the medieval floor. Here no clumsy, well meaning Victorian has struck.
Stepping out into the sunshine, still to dip behind the Black Mountain, I saw a slate slab to John Bowen, 1880-1965, small holder, gamekeeper, a true countryman. So many harvests did to his sickle yield. No finer man, no finer place.
And the 17th century Scudamores? with the conscience clear, the way was open for a son. If hormone and IVF treatment fail maybe the solution is to renovate an old church. Fade to sunset. A buzzard circles.