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Bed and breakfast availability
Waltham Abbey b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Waltham Abbey in Essex

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Visit Waltham Abbey and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Waltham Abbey, Essex. Here, only 16 miles from London, is one of the finest surviving examples of Norman architecture in the country, worthy to be ranked with Durham and Norwich. even though on a smaller scale. In fact, though the great nave, or rather what remains of it, is 12th century, the abbey was actually begun before the Conquest, by Earl Harold, an admirer of the Norman manner. It had been founded as a collegiate church in 1030 and was consecrated by Harold on 3 May 1060, some years earlier than the great abbey at Westminster, built by his brother-in-law, Edward the Confessor.

The present church of The Holy Cross and St Lawrence is less than one half of the original buildings much of which were destroyed after the Dissolution. What has survived is a magnificent Norman nave, whose sturdy columns support a gallery and a clerestory. The circular piers are, like those in the cathedrals mentioned earlier, patterned with deeply cut spiral or zigzag grooves while the arches above the heavy Norman caps all have zigzag ornaments.

The present tower was added c. 155668 to replace the original crossing tower which had collapsed. It features chequer-work in flint and stone and strong diagonal buttresses. The present church ends with the east wall which was rebuilt in 1859 by W. Burges. The windows have stained glass by Sir Edward Burne-Jones while the reredos was sculpted by T. Nicholls after 1876. Like the altar which is carved from American black walnut it was presented by Mrs Eden-borough.

In the Lady Chapel may be seen the remains of a l4th century painting on the east wall over the altar. The brilliantly designed ceiling of the nave was painted by Sir Edward Poynter in 1860.

Among the tombs contained in the church is that to Sir Edward Denny (d. 1600) and his wife and an elaborately carved alabaster monument to Captain Sir Robert Smith, d. 1697. One of the two slabs of Purbeck marble in the north aisle is from a tomb of an abbot, and the other has been held to be from the tomb of King Harold himself.

Little remains of the abbey buildings which were to the north of the nave. Some say that Harold was buried in what would have been the chancel and the spot is marked on the grass. A small section of the vaulted cloister is all that remains of the convent buildings.

Until 1540 the church organist was the great composer, Thomas Tallis (150585). In addition to Tallis, Essex was the home of two other of our greatest English composers, William Byrd and John Wilbye.

Adjacent cities/towns/villages: Barkingside, Barnet, Bayford, Broxbourne, Buckhurst Hill, Cheshunt, Chigwell, Chingford, Cockfosters, Cole Green, Cuffley, East Barnet, East Finchley, Edmonton, Enfield, Enfield Lock, Epping, Epping Green, Essendon, Friern Barnet, Goffs Oak, Great Amwell, Great Parndon, Haringey, Harlow, Hatfield, Hertford, Hertingfordbury, Hoddesdon, Hornsey, Little Amwell, Little Berkhampstead, Loughton, Middle Street, Nazeing, New Southgate, Newgate Street, North Weald, Northaw, Palmers Green, Ponders End, Potter Street, Redbridge, Roydon, Stanstead Abbots, Stapleford Abbots, Theydon Bois, Tottenham, Waltham Cross, Waltham Holy Cross, Walthamstow, Ware, Winchmore Hill, Wood Green, Woodford, Woodford Green, Wormley

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