Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Waltham Abbey

6 locks, and 6.5 miles. Now moored by Rye house station on the River Lea.

First job of the day was to go into town and visit Waltham Abbey and church founded by King Harold in 1066. We had been recommended to visit the Abbey by Geoff Cowan a follower of our blog who had been the organist at the church. We were quite lucky in that we had moored within a mile of the church. It turned out that today was also market day which was behind the church.

Upon setting foot in the church, the church verger,Ian Eaton met us and gave us a guided tour ( he also remembered Geoff). He was very knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the church and the Abbey, the latter just being an outline of what had been the inner and outer walls. The church is the fourth church to stand on this site dating back to 700AD and is only a quarter of the size of the Abbey. When the church had under floor heating installed in the 1980's workers found wooden foundations dating back to the first church.

When Henry the eighth ordered the destruction of all the Catholic monasteries Waltham was the last to go as one of Henry's personal staff had family involved with the Abbey. Parishioners in the area petitioned the king to retain the original church which had been incorporated into the Abbey. The king granted their wish and the church was saved. The only problem was that the church tower was weakened when the Abbey was demolished and it collapsed probably due to the weight of the bells within the tower. A new wall was built with a beautiful stained glass window depicting the 7 days of Gods creation of man and beast.

The present tower was rebuilt at the opposite end of the church to help support that wall as somebody had removed 2 arch ways and windows were changed. Somebody wanted to try and recreate a Gothic look but in doing so weakened that end of the building. The tower was built from materials salvaged from the demolished Abbey.

Waltham Abbey was founded by King Harold in 1066 and his grave is shown below, now in the Abbey grounds but originally in the Abbey that was demolished.

The Abbey was founded by King Harold in 1066, his grave is in the Abbey grounds, originally it was in the part of the Abbey demolished.

After leaving the church we checked out the market for fresh veges before heading back to the boat. It was late morning before we got under way but as there are not many other boats on the move we had a long slow cruise as Dot had to shut both gates and paddles of most of the locks before we could enter. Why do these lazy so and so's even bother to cruise at all, they leave the hard work for someone else. During the last few days on this river we have found most of the 14 days moorings full of liveaboards who are obviously outstaying their visits. I know it is now October but there are genuine continuous cruisers such as ourselves that want to moor up too. British Waterways seems to be letting out more and more of the visitor moorings to winter moorers. Little Venice they were joustling for positions on the unmarked winter moorings and supposedly paying BW 1600 pounds for the winter privilege. Now you ask me! Where are we to go?

At Feilde's Weir lock we met 2 boats heading in the same direction as us but had stopped below the lock to water up. Just as we were about to leave the lock one of the crew on the boats below the lock came up and said to me " I hope you are not going to moor up by those other boats as that is my mooring " To this I replied " Your mooring? They are 14 day visitor moorings" To this he merely replied "Oh OK" and walked off. What a bloody cheek! Any way when I got to the mooring it wasn't that good so we pressed on to our present mooring which is much better.

720 locks, 1014 miles, 29 Tunnels, 39 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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