September 6 – A trip to Wallingford Castle

A visit to Dorchester Abbey, Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today we went to visit Wallingford as this is one of the places mentioned in our ‘finale’ section to the Medieval Mosaic. William the Conqueror had to go to Wallingford in order to cross the Thames after being held off by the men of London at Southwark. Also at Wallingford, he attended the wedding of Robert D’Oiley, one of his men, to the Major of Wallingford’s daughter. In the border of this section of the mosaic, you can clearly see the feasting and merrymaking going on. Robert D’Oyly was also responsible for the building of Oxford Castle. Wallingford Castle is now a ruin but right beside the Thames. After visiting the castle ruins we walked all around the park there, along the river and into the town again.

We visited St Peter’s church where they had some wonderful tilework and stained glass. Next, we visited St Mary-le-More where they have a lovely marble pulpit.

Dorchester-on-Thames is a lovely town and we visited the Abbey. Here they had an amazing Jesse window.  The Tree of Jesse is a depiction in art of the ancestors of Christ, shown in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David and is the original use of the family tree in genealogy. The subject is often seen in Christian art, particularly in the Medieval period. The earliest example date from the 11th-century in an illuminated manuscript. There are many examples of the tree of Jesse in Medieval psalters because King David was the writer of Psalms. Other examples are in stained glass windows, stone carvings around the portals of medieval cathedrals and paintings on walls and ceilings. The Tree of Jesse also appears in smaller art forms such as embroideries and ivories.

Dorchester Abbey also had a wonderful 12th-century lead font and several beautiful altar cloths and reredos both in the main church and in the chapels. There was a lovely shrine to St Birinus designed by F. Russell Cox in 1964. There were some great tombs including one to Sir John Stonore, 1280 – 1354 and The Swaggering Knight effigy, William de Valence, 1282. There were stone corbels including a green man and some excellent monumental brasses. The 13th-century roundel of stained glass to St Birinus was very lovely. We have never seen a glazed sedilia before and this may have been my favourite part.

Goring-on-Thames was a great village with a village sign and a lovely church. At the church we talked to the verger who told us that George Michael’s home was just around the corner. We walked past the house and the walls of the house and the garden were still covered with tributes. It was very moving and the church had three visitors books full of written tributes. George Michael died on Christmas Day 2016 aged just 53.

On the way home, we picked up several geocaches including a side-tracked at Pangbourne and one outside the gate of an impressive house and gardens at Englefield.