April, 2010

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Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Manor, known for being one of the oldest inhabited houses in Britain, is a conference and retreat center, managed by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) that offers hospitality to individuals in a recently restored cottage on the grounds of the manor. see page 154 in LODGING IN BRITAIN'S MONASTERIES.

The Manor is a 13th century stone building and is known for being one of the oldest inhabited houses in Britain. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) offers hospitality to groups (guided and self-organized) in the main house and to individuals in a recently restored cottage on the grounds of the manor.

The Manor is in a small attractive village just southwest of Oxford in the center of the imaginary triangle formed by three historical towns: Abingdon, Wantage and Faringdon, all part of The Cotswolds. The village’s church features a turret containing two medieval chiming bells. Built on the foundations of a Saxon church, the present structure evolved over five centuries.

Nearby Vale of White Horse District derives from the figure of a horse carved into the hillside above the village of Uffington. This is the oldest chalk figure in Britain and dates to around 1000 BC. Inviting Abingdon was occupied in prehistoric times by settlers of the Bronze and Iron Ages. At one time Abingdon Abbey was the sixth richest in Britain. Two of the main roads into Abingdon cross the Thames and the Ock over bridges listed as ancient monuments. The bridge over the Thames dates back more than 550 years.

Typically Cotswold... the Cotswolds is famous for its bustling market towns and ancient mellow honey colored limestone villages.

The Cotswolds is famous for its bustling market towns and ancient mellow honey colored limestone villages. Many of the towns look today as they have for centuries when they prospered with the medieval wool trade before being forgotten for more than 300 years. This sequence of events contributed to the pristine landscape that now make the Cotswolds one of the most treasured regions in England.


, capital of the Cotswolds, has the unmistakable air of a lively market town. The parish church of St. John Baptist dominates the town center in “woolgothic” style, a reference to the importance of income from the wool trade in medieval times. Often called the “Cathedral of the Cotswolds” it is a lasting symbol of the town’s wealth and influence in medieval England. The cathedral’s porch is an unusually grand landmark built in 1490.

William Morris called nearby Bibury “the most beautiful village in England.” Two communities (the other is Arlington) form the village. Overlooking a water meadow and river is Arlington Row, a group of ancient weavers’ cottages with steeply pitched roofs dating back to the 16th century.

There is a rich blend of properties in Bibury, some are timber-framed with thatched roofs but most are built of honey-colored Cotswold Stone. Presenting the quintessential Cotswold scene, they are defined by steep gables and tall chimneys, often with small stone clad windows and nearly all submerged in green foliage.

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Romanesque Architecture and Plainchant combine in this majestic setting where rooms are about $25/full board.

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Erected over the ruins of a Visigothic abbey destroyed by the Moors, the tranquil setting and spiritual aura of the monastery has roused a myriad of poets to sing its praises. The Romanesque cloisters are among the most beautiful in Spain. The double cloister was edified between the 11th and 12th century. Each of the columns is a work of art, an unusual mixture of Arab and French Romanesque. In this museum of Romanesque beauty, the superb bas-relief panels are particularly outstanding. Emotional motifs abound throughout the panels, a singular feature of Romanesque art.

Since 1880, the Abbey has housed a community of French monks. They introduced a style of singing called plainsong or plainchant, an ancient and austere unharmonized melody in free rhythm. Throughout the day, services are sung in plainchant. Less strictly systemized than Gregorian Chant, the origins can be traced to early Christian times and are derived from Greek and Jewish music.

For more information visit Monasteriesofspain.com

Stay at this convent in one of the most charming hill top Tuscan towns with gorgeous lake and valley views for about $40/night

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

Large comfortable guest rooms include private baths and breakfast for about $40 per night.

The convent is immersed in the restful green of the typical Tuscan hill, in the shadow of the majestic trees that clasp the entrance and hug the enormous garden behind the building. Built over 100 years ago by a man whose daughter wanted to join the order, the convent occupies an exceptional location on the slope of a steep hill in one of the oldest and most captivating towns of Tuscany. The locale in this charming hill town offers wonderful views of the valley and Lake Trasimeno. From the convent, it is an easy walk to the center of town and all that it has to offer.

Nearby Montepulciano is a well-preserved medieval town. It is enriched with Renaissance architecture that is splendidly woven into the urban fabric. Tufa and brick are typical building materials. The entire region is noted for the production of the “noble” Montepulciano wine. Piazza Grande is the heart of town and is faced by the cathedral as well as numerous grand palaces.

Just south of Montepulciano is lovely Pienza. The town’s Renaissance layout and buildings are attributed to its most illustrious son, Enea Silvio Piccolomini who became Pope under the name of Pius II. The beautiful central piazza, conceived and designed by Bernardo Rossellino contains the town’s principal monuments. The cathedral is a grand basilica with three Gothic naves and a complex Renaissance façade. The Palazzo Piccolomini is a fine example of Renaissance civic architecture with a severe facade, elegant courtyard and beautiful hanging garden.

For more information visit monasteriesofitaly.com