Local resident and photographer John Callaway gives us a glimpse into Portsmouth’s hidden places with his stunning photography. This week, John heads out to Titchfield Abbey to discover its rich history and hauntingly beautiful architecture.
If history can be found in stone and mortar, then the ruins of Titchfield Abbey have borne witness to events stretching back almost 800 years.
The abbey of St Mary and St John the Evangelist was founded in 1231/2 by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, for Premonstratensian canons, an order founded at Prémontré in France, known also as the ‘white canons’. The canons lived a communal life under monastic vows, but were also involved in the wider community [Source: English Heritage].
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Abbey was given to Thomas Wriothesley, later 1st Earl of Southampton, a loyal civil servant to King Henry VIII. He was granted monastic lands as a ‘reward’ for his role in the suppression of the monasteries. Central to this were the 11 manors and 5,000 acres of land surrounding the Abbey. He proceeded to transform the main buildings into Place House, a residence fit for a rising courtier. The imposing Gatehouse stands as testament to this re-working.
Anyway, moving on…
As the title this week suggests, not everything is in black and white. So, a little colour from the medieval tiles that were rediscovered during excavations in 1923.
The Latin inscription above was meant to greet the canons as they approached the refectory for their meals. It translates as: ‘Before you sit down to meat at your table first remember the poor’.A sentiment that wouldn’t go amiss amongst those that would ‘lead’ this country.
This article was originally published on John Callaway’s website, Ideas & images from Portsmouth and beyond. You can read more of John’s writing on his website and also see his live music photography.
Images by John Callaway.