Chapels and Castles

This past week I had the opportunity to do some more exploring of the Great Britain, which unfortunately has slowed way down because of this concept of money which I’m expected to earn in order to survive. But I found a day off and a friend to go with, so I took off to Rosslyn Chapel and Alnwick (pronounced Annick) Castle.

Rosslyn Chapel was built by William Sinclair (well, he hired the workers who built it) in 1446. That’s a really long time ago.

It was meant to be a private cathedral for the Sinclair family, but when William died, his son Oliver didn’t care as much about the church and just built a fourth wall and was done with it. So it’s just a bit of a church, but still super interesting, and functional and used for worship to date.

The great thing in Rosslyn Chapel are the sculptures. Many of them are quite famous, and this is because they are a lot of symbols inside Rosslyn Chapel aren’t exactly Catholic…which gives it a lot of intrigue. For example, we saw a relief sculpture that was clearly Moses holding the tablet with the ten commandments, but he had devil’s horns.

Technically we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the chapel. So I’m not sharing pictures we took. Because we didn’t take any.

Anyway, all you have to do is read the last bit of The Da Vinci Code to learn about the crazy symbology inside Roslyn Chapel. There are Templar Knight symbols, Pagan symbols, Christian symbols, Native American symbols which was super mind-blowing…

And then there’s a Apprentice’s Pillar legend.

So, there was a master mason who built this pillar at the front of the church, to be one of two central pillars of the church.

William Sinclair, chapel commissioner, wasn’t totally pleased with this square pillar. So the master mason decided he needed to go to Italy for inspiration.

While he was gone, one of the apprentices, about fifteen-years-old, had a dream about a glorious pillar, and exactly what he should do to carve this pillar. He told William Sinclair about the dream, and William believed it was from God, so he told the apprentice to build the pillar.

Well, as things tend to be when inspired by God, the apprentice’s pillar, kinda rocked.

When the master mason came back and saw the new pillar, and realized everyone liked it better than his, he struck the apprentice on the head with his hammer in a fit of rage, killing him. He then got fired. And hanged.

Afterwards, as a tribute/punishment, the other masons carved the faces of the apprentice and the mason in the opposite end of the church. The apprentice looking up to God and being saved. The mason staring directly at the apprentice’s pillar for all eternity.

But I think my favorite part in Rosslyn Chapel was the ceiling.

There were five sections, as you can see, four with a different flower carved in the diagonal tiles, but the fifth with All-American five-pointed stars. Cue Twilight Zone music. What do these stars mean? One of the many secrets of this beautiful chapel. Which I absolutely adored because you know how much I love rocks and sculptures. And the whole thing was sculpted.

After Rosslyn, we stopped by Melrose Abbey which is a sweet abbey in ruins.

Next to Melrose Abbey was a little tourist shop we popped into. Of course, following my new rules on souvenir buying. Whilst there, we met Lord Toddington, who offered his hand in marriage to my friend or me, whoever was willing to take it, as well as the castle which he still owns and huge tracks of land. Somehow I couldn’t exactly bring myself to say yes to this proposal, but I did take a picture with him.

After that little delight, on to Alnwick Castle (remember that it’s pronounced Annick)! This is the most castley castle that ever castled.

Talk about formidable. This was a beast. And the great part? The Earl of Northumberland and his family (the Percy family) STILL LIVE HERE. We walked through their library (14,000 books, all first edition, dating back to the 1400s or so), and their sitting room, and their dining room. We saw the big screen TV and their creepy taxidermied pet dogs that they clearly couldn’t let go of. They move for the summer to let tourism take over, but next week they’ll move back in for the next six months. So I pretty much want to be bffs with these kids. Who have Princes William and Harry chilling at their weddings. I’m happy to be friends with you despite your creepy taxidermied pets. (And no, I really didn’t take pictures inside their state rooms because I respected that it is still a private home even if they let people wander through, so I can’t show you the creepy dogs.)

Also noteworthy, this year’s Downton Abbey Christmas special was filmed in the state rooms of this castle (I don’t know if the creepy dogs will be featured).

Speaking of filming, does anyone recognize THIS?

Because if you do, we’re now best friends. For the rest of you, this may help:

This is obviously the reason we came to this castle. Unfortunately, we missed the daily broomstick lessons. 😦 But we did get to see the collection of archaeological wonders procured by the sixth (or fourth?) Earl of Northumberland.

As well as practice our archery! Whoo! Because Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was also filmed at this castle. I scored 35/40 with four arrows. Not bad, so y’all should watch out, I’m well on my way to becoming Katniss!

I honestly don’t think I’ll EVER get sick of Britain and the delights she offers me. This country offers something amazing every day.


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