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July 17, 2008

Medieval banqueting - 21st Century style

Last night we held a banquet in the Abbey. That's right, in the Abbey, candlelit and seated at a great U shaped table in the Nave. Our Refectory cooked a truly medieval meal - a sort of chicken stew served on trenchers of bread and washed down with wine or beer. Father Abbot said the Grace (In Latin then repeated in Vernacular English) at the invitation of our Lord of Misrule for the evening, the Editor of our local newspapers. The organiser was none other than the lady wife of our Lord Lieutenant - who turned up in a full medieval costume and looked resplendent as he raised to Loyal Toast. And just for those who don't know, the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire is one of the four "Marcher Lords" who defend England from the Welsh raiders across the border. The Lord Lieutenant in every county is the Queen's personal representative and, in her absence, is the Sovereign.

Now, before all the purists, iconoclasts and puritans among you start throwing your toys out of the pram let me point out two important things. When this building was built, this was only one of the uses that the Nave was regularly put too. The Nave of any church at that time served as a public meeting hall, occassional market place and a place where civic banquets could be held. The "Church" part of the Abbey begins at the "step" where the Monks Quire Screen stood and which shut off the Nave from the "Presbytery" - another name for the "Church" or "Sanctuary". I have no doubt at all that many of those who attended the Jerusalem Conference ahead of the Lambeth Conference will condemn this - but the interesting thing is this - if you go back to the origins of the "Church" you discover that this is how they met for their worship and to celebrate the Eucharist - in a meal. And those who feel that this is an inappropriate use should think carefully on this - nearly half those attending were not church goers, yet most said that they were now considering joining since the church wasn't as "stuffy" as they had been brought up to believe.

Our meal was accompanied by a group of musicians playing medieval instruments, shawms, serpentines and several stringed instruments whose names escape me and they sounded exactly right in this glorious building. The group call themselves Bubonic Wind and they are very good indeed - especially in the magical accoustic of the Abbey. This ancient building has witnessed many things, but hopefully will recall this one with joy and hope.

Will we be doing it again? You can bet on it!

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 17, 2008 11:40 AM

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Bubonic Wind?!? *falls off chair laughing*

Posted by: The Postulant at July 28, 2008 02:12 PM