Dore Abbey

Yesterday, on our way home from staying with our friends Nicolas and Frances McDowall of The Old Stile Press in the Wye Valley, Peter and I took a detour to visit Dore Abbey in ‘Golden Valley’, a ravishingly beautiful area of Herefordshire. The abbey was founded in 1147 by Robert Fitz Harold of Ewyas, the Lord of Ewyas Harold, possibly on the site of earlier wooden monastic buildings of which no traces remain. The abbey is located close to the River Dore. It was formed as a daughter house of the Cistercian abbey at Morimond, perhaps after Lord Robert had met the Abbot of Morimond on the Second Crusade.

I’ve long been in thrall to Dore, a site of such unparalleled peacefulness that I sometimes feel an imperative to visit and drink it in.

There are the wall paintings dating from 1700

a seventeenth century poor-box

and knightly tomb effigies, one of which depicts a suit of chain-mail I’m going to reference for my new Gawain prints.

Then there is the light through ancient glass, shimmering and ever-changing.

Dore Abbey is a patchwork beauty, wearing its many periods of building-work and use with easy grace. It is incomparable with any other place I know, softly patinated to the point where all its materials… stone, glass and wood… have merged so that they seem as one.

18 thoughts on “Dore Abbey

  1. Coming to my beloved Herefordshire on holiday next week and just made a Sunday lunch booking and was deciding where to visit after lunch – Done Abbey is nearby and we haven’t been before – your words (of several years ago) make a visit very appealing and of course during the holiday we will return to Kilpeck – it seems to have a magnetic force. Now hoping for some sunshine.
    Deby (in Canada)

  2. Looks an interesting place to visit. I must be one of the few who prefer the black background and old format, it felt more concentrated and private space, especially when viewing paintings and writing, as though revealing a personal narrative and journey and mystery to be revealed, even though I know it is very much public, and now this has brought me blinking into the daylight.

    • Thank you, Janet, for your take on this. I too liked the old design, but I felt it was long overdue for refreshing. Though the dark ground added mystery and intensity to the images, the white text on black caused problems for many readers. Time for clarity and simplicity.

  3. What a wonderful place! I love it when you can see scars of old buildings once attached, the colour of the stone is delicious, the square towered abbey so typical of a British village, and those yummy faded colours of the wall paintings are to die for. To see those letters and numbers carved by 17th century hands… it is inspirational indeed.

    Lots of love Lizxx

  4. Your post has got me dreaming of Albion Clive. (-:

    It’s no surprise when you see somewhere like Dore Abbey that the creative life of writers, artists and musicians living in this country over the centuries has been so greatly influenced by a subliminal sense of place.

    Like Phil, Dore Abbey in ‘Golden Valley’ is now on my must-visit list. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  5. It looks lovely, but ; does it smell as good as it looks ?

    Many years ago, we travelled through France, to visit the beautiful Chateaux de la Loire.

    At Blois, the guide was explaining how the Duc de Guise had been hiding behind a given heavy embroidered curtain when he was Murdered (like Polonius in Hamlet), and he moved the curtain a bit, to show the space behind it. I had to run out and throw up; the smell was so disgusting. They’d probably wanted to preserve the effluvia of the time of the murder, and never given the place a good scrub and a good airing.

    Of course, Dore was an abbey, and the monks scrub the floors, and pray, and copy old texts, and prepare herbal remedies, and scrub some more… And they burn wax candles and incense.

    It probably smells like heaven.

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