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Lanercost Priory, with the church to the left and numerous outbuildings to the right. Many more buildings and ruins are behind the church.

Irene (Dame Quilterosity) is very aware that she has been neglecting this blog shamefully and asked me to take over just for today.  I’m your guest blogger, William by name.   I’m an Augustinian priest (and administrator) at Lanercost Priory, right near the border of Scotland.

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The church of Lanercost Priory, dedicated to Mary Magdalene. An unusual choice for the time.

Being an Augustinian means I’m committed to bringing the values of the monastery out into the world.  I took a vow of poverty, and we say prayers all hours of the day and night just like regular monks, but the other priests and I live right in the neighbourhood of the “real” people.  Of course, since we Augustinians are usually associated with royalty, we got us a pretty nice little priory, if I do say so myself.  So nice, in fact, that last Michaelmas (September 29, 1306 A.D.), King Edward (the first one by that name) came for a visit, along with the Queen … and 200 of his closest friends.

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Close up of the sandstone pillars decorating the front door of the church.
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Interior of the church, with priory ruins behind the church visible through the windows.
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Ruins of the priory behind the church.

I remember the exact date, because six months later, the king was still here.  Yep, along with his two hundred followers, each one expecting to be treated like royalty.  Every single day.  For six months.  Between that and the constant harassment and thievery by those godforsaken heathen Scots, we are just about flat broke.  We had to go to the king personally and ask for help, and he did promise us, what did he call it, “relief.”  But of course, not in cash.  Even then, God knows if he will actually make good, knowing kings….

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Behind the altar you can glimpse the famous dossal (decorative covering for the wall behind the altar). It was designed by William Morris and made by his daughter May.
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Close up of the dossal behind the altar. It was designed by William Morris and made by his daughter May.
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Extreme closeup of the dossal designed by William Morris and made by his daughter May.

Anyways, I was going to tell you more about me and this place.  I speak Latin, English and Gregorian chant.  Har, har, that was a little joke, that chant bit.  I couldn’t carry a tune in a reed basket.

We’ve built this amazing church and all the outbuildings, starting in the year of our Lord 1169.  It’s massive.  I’m just willing to bet a thousand years from now, someone will be sure to make it a UNESCO world heritage site.
We’re lucky to have our own Home Depot Supply Store at hand.  That’s it over there – that huge old stone wall.  It’s about a thousand years old now, so I don’t think Mister Hadrian Is coming back for it any time soon.  All we have to do is pop out to the wall, loosen the concrete, and there we are – a fine building stone.  You can tell the recycled ones because they’re square instead of rectangular.  Don’t they look nice in the church walls?  Maybe they should make us into TWO world heritage sites, lol!
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Rectangular stone blocks were made at the time of construction; square blocks are recycled from Hadrian’s wall.
This is my favourite spot – the warming room, which we use as our common room.  Baking is done here, and it’s a great place for humans to warm up as well.   Here’s where I scratched a game of “Nine Men’s Morris” into the window ledge (you can just barely see the lines) and next to it is the “Fox and Geese” game.  Not that we have a lot of free time, mind…
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The warming room, where the priests would gather.
Look closely - it’s nine men’s morris, a game scratched into the warming room  - stone refectory of St. Mary Magdalen, Lanercost Priory near Carlisle, England
Look closely – it’s nine men’s morris, a game scratched into the warming room – stone refectory of St. Mary Magdalen, Lanercost Priory near Carlisle, England
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Fox and Geese game carved into the window ledge of the warming room where the priests gathered in their spare time.
I’m most proud of this book we’ve made – the Lanercost Cartulary.  It’s an organized list of all the lands and properties we’ve bought and sold in the area over the years.  Hopefully the King will give us a few more properties that I can add in here!  But the best part is that some of the fellows here are very talented artists, so we’ve got them to decorate it with pictures in the margins.  There’s nothing else like it any where.  Priceless.
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Diagram of the church at Lanercost in the margin of the Chartulary.
Aw, you have to go so soon? Do you want some pottage of turnips before you leave?  I’m afraid the king ate all the venison and swans.  Ah, well, then, just be sure to look out for those pesky wild Scots just the other side of the wall!  I swear, they’ll be the death of us yet.
Go with God, friend, and thanks for the visit!
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