Beautiful Medieval Wall Art, Castor Church, near Peterborough, England

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We recently visited the beautiful church of Saint Kyneburgha, near Peterborough in the English midlands.

The church stands beautifully on a hill, on the site of an old Roman settlement and palace.

In fact, the name of Castor is derived directly from the Roman/Latin name for a fort or castle. This village is situated near to an important Roman settlement called Durobrivae, or Water Newton in Egnlish, just a few miles west of present day city of Peterborough.

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The church is noted for its surviving medieval wall art. Before the Reformation in the 16th century, all churches had such wall art, which was then whitewashed over. More recently, as in this example above, some of these illustrations have been revealed during restoration.

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Castor church’s appellation is Saint Kyneburgha, who was the daughter of King Penda of Mercia, the last pagan king of that English kingdom in the midlands.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

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Henry VI, King of England and France, Castles Made of Sand – Astrology Musings

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

His father was one of England’s most legendary monarchs, the victor of Agincourt in northern France in October 1415. Henry V went on to re-conquer Normandy, to officially become heir to the French throne and win the hand in marriage of the French king’s daughter, Catherine.

But alas for England, Henry V was dead by 1422, aged just 35, too famous to live long, as Shakespeare was to put it nearly two centuries later.

A fated inheritance?

However, he left behind a son aged just one, also called Henry, sixth of that name, who on his father’s death inherited two kingdoms, England and France.

Young Henry remains the only monarch to be crowned king of England and France, yet it was to be an illusive and tragic inheritance.

By 1453, a generation later, the English were effectively all but thrown out of France, only little Calais remaining.

Lancaster versus York

Back in England, the kingdom began to implode through the strong rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York. Henry VI, unlike his famous father, was no military leader, becoming a powerless pawn during the shifting circumstances of war and intrigue. He was dethroned and eventually died in captivity, probably murdered.

It was an ignominious end to a reign which, at its start, promised the uniting of two kingdoms and a golden age.

Pluto transforms

So, according to the birth data, Henry was born with Pluto rising in Gemini, within a degree of the ascending point. Of course, Pluto was unknown back in the 15th century and therefore no astrologer could have pointed this out to his parents or guardians.

However, with the benefit of our hindsight, Pluto on sensitive points of a birth chart, and they don’t come much more sensitive than the ascending degree, can cast a very strong influence on the individual. Pluto is said to be transformative, a bringer of drastic change, almost like a finger of fate over which we have no control.

It’s worth remembering, too, that when Henry was king, the monarch was all powerful when he was of ruling age, say from his late teens.

The English kicked out of France

But because he became king aged 1, both England and France were ruled by others, essentially his uncles and their cohorts.

And because the figure head’s birth chart is, by its very nature, said to be symbolic of the ‘destiny’ of the whole nation beneath it, this Pluto conjunct the ascendant, exactly describes what happened over the next generation: a complete transformation, the English ending up being kicked out of France (except Calais), France setting its long course to become the dominant power in western Europe. England, on the other hand, went into meltdown.

Draining the swamp?

This is very much Plutonian, the draining of the swamp, a drastic, though perhaps necessary change which completely disrespects the individual.

Poor Henry probably never had a chance, not helped by the fact that he was no warrior, and in fact appeared to prefer religious study to the involvement in power politics. Some said that he had inherited his grandfather’s (Charles VI of France) supposed madness.

A life led through others

Returning to Henry’s chart, his chart ruler, Mercury and his Sun are both in Sagittarius in his 7th house of partnerships. This means that, although he was mentally expansive, his life was usually led through others, that he was always likely to be under the influence of more powerful people than he, even though he was king of two kingdoms. This was probably a result of inheriting so young.

His Mercury in Sagittarius in beneficial aspect to Jupiter in the 3rd house, strongly hints of a keen interest in the higher mind, the areas of philosophy and religion, and I suspect that this tendency became almost like an escape for him as the full magnitude of his personal situation revealed itself to him as he grew up.

An escape in philosophy and religion

His Sagittarian Sun is also ruler of that 3rd house, underlining the idea that thinking is a good way to travel philosophically, if not physically for him, though Sagittarius in itself suggests foreign involvement – he was king and the inheritor of two countries and cultures.

Saturn is ruler of the 9th house, the planet being found in Libra in the 5th house. I think he had a keen sense of justice too and was probably very knowledgeable of the law.

Also interesting, for those who think Uranus is ruler or co-ruler of Aquarius, Uranus is found in the 10th house in Pisces. Uranus in this house more than hints of sudden changes in the ‘career’ and if Uranus is indeed the MC (midheaven point) ruler too, then we have another tie up in regard to his experience of the vicissitudes of kingship.

Spiritual solace

His Moon in Taurus in the 12th house, might have added a touch of stability to his life. The Moon is said to be exalted in Taurus, so if he ever had time to engage in activities such as gardening, he might have found some quiet solace, especially as the Moon is in good aspect to Neptune, which would tend to add a spiritual, or unworldly edge to his character.

Mars is also involved in this configuration, nicely trining Neptune from the 6th house in Scorpio, adding energy and, I should imagine, some religious zeal to his already mentioned philosophical interests.

However, the Moon Mars opposition, would have also been a source of much psychological irritation, too, which would always tend to find release through this Neptune – this may have been one of the key indications of his love of religion and spiritual issues.

A victim of circumstance

Finally, his Chiron is in the 8th house of inheritance, almost exactly in aspect (quincunx) to Pluto on his ascendant and loosely opposite Neptune. Here is a very strong indication of his early circumstances, inheriting so young the newly founded empire of his father, plus his difficulty in coming to terms with it later on as circumstances began to change beyond his control. In his more lucid moments, he might have been able to give others some succinct advice about death and inheritance.

Looking at this chart, I do genuinely feel sorry for Henry, for there are few better examples of a king being a victim of circumstance.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

History of the Church: The Lost World of Monasteries

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Monasteries, the Abbey or Priory of the medieval world of England, are an enduring interest of mine, although I don’t claim to be an expert on ecclesiastical or architectural matters.

Many years ago, I did a series of watercolour reconstructions of one priory, how it may have looked at its height (see above).

To think that these places, which became so criticised and demonised, especially in the reign of Tudor King Henry VIII, were the centres of education not only of the monks and nuns who lived there, but were also enriching the local communities, providing jobs, education, lodging, medical care too.

To have these dissolved, stripped bare and taken down, the monks or nuns dismissed at the behest of ‘Good King Henry’ and Thomas Cromwell – well, it must have been truly catastrophic for the communities that were left without them. That doesn’t quite seem to come across in most of the accepted history of what we call The Reformation.

There are always at least two sides to any story.

Spalding’s Unique Ayscoughfee Hall

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Ayscoughfee Hall in Spalding Lincolnshire is simply an architectural gem.

However, I don’t believe it’s known for sure how it got its name (it’s pronounced ‘Ascoffey’ folks).

Nevertheless, recent archaeology has discovered much that was once hidden; stairs, passageways, tiles… all of which are included in the comprehensive museum illustrating the history, not only of Spalding, but of the whole South Holland region and its wonderful agricultural heritage.

Leofwine Tanner 2019

Christianity – Doors to Eternity

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At times you can almost see the individuals, a bit like ghosts, who would once regularly use this door.

How would the local accent have sounded then, say in 1500? Would I have understood them? More to the point, would they understand me? I doubt it, but I have a liking for old church doors.

This north facing example bears all the marks of being very old, probably late medieval, but I could be wrong. Look


at the tracery… perpendicular style?

Let’s Celebrate Lincolnshire Churches Festival – Nettleham

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Every May in north Lincolnshire in the east of England there is the West Lindsey Churches Festival, ‘A Celebration of Open Churches in West Lindsey’.

The idea is to raise interest and money for the upkeep of these historic buildings, icons of English cultural and Christian heritage.

To be honest, I’m not sure if we’d ever heard of it. The link only came up last week from the web, so I thought it would be worth a visit. We were very glad we came.

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All Saints Church, Nettleham.

Our first stop was at the pretty village of Nettleham, at the Church of All Saints just a few miles north east of the magnificent city of Lincoln.

Nettleham is a large, seemingly thriving village of around three and half thousand souls with lots of local stores and some pubs, a heartening sight if there ever was. Inside the church we were greeted very courteously by the volunteers manning their stalls of old books, games, crafts, or selling food and drink. They were all very helpful, keen to tell us about the church and the village.

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The locals are friendly! We were greeted outside, even before we went in…

Sadly, in the 1960s there was a serious fire at All Saints, the result of arson. Since then the church has been restored very well, notable features being the new stained glass window at the east end and the roof.

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Medieval wall illustrations were revealed after the fire in the 1960s.

 

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Modern stained glass from the late 1960s.

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Of course, there are no benefits from fires, but one of the things revealed by the tragedy was a series of medieval wall pattern illustrations, of the type which used to bedeck all churches before the Reformation, after which nearly all were whitewashed over.

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Carrot cake and apple cake, what is there not to like?

Naturally, one of the benefits of going to these events is sampling the local cakes. We got a piece of carrot cake and apple cake, washed down by the proverbial cup of tea. The prices too, are very reasonable. We even took away a whole lemon drizzle cake!

Yes, it’s all very English and a jolly good thing to. I can’t speak highly enough of everyone inside, they made us very welcome.

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The village of Nettleham is also very pretty and worth exploring, with a running stream making lovely feature.

And a little history

Incidentally, Lindsey, in which Nettleham lies, is not merely a division or riding of historic Lincolnshire, along with Kesteven and Holland; Lindsey was once a kingdom in its own right, ruled from Lincoln around thirteen hundred years ago, before it was swallowed up by the much larger Mercia.

After that there was a manor house here, called the Bishop’s Manor House, as it eventually became a possession of the Bishops of Lincoln. Sadly this is now demolished.

But it’s not all about the past. There is very much to see and enjoy here today, not just at the Churches Festival – it’s well worth a visit at any time if you’re nearby.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

Christian Confession! – Where Did All The Saints Go?

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Which saint, one wonders, once stood here in this empty space?

The empty church spaces now vacated, were once inhabited by colourful saints, or other such noble individuals. These days it makes me sad.

I am not a Catholic, yet, somehow our culture seemed to be somewhat lessened by their disappearance during the Reformation.

I think we lost more than just colour and ceremony in our lives at the time; these events seriously hastened in the modern materialistic world, which despite its obvious benefits, has stripped us of all our innocence now.

Just like the monasteries, creators and supporters of communities, were dissolved and stripped of all their wealth which was then reduced to its base monetary value, we too over time seem to have been stripped to the core, spiritually.

That’s how I feel. I’m not saying I wish to convert – there are reasons why I would not – but we need to reclaim something from our past, to move one step back, if you will, before we can go two forward.

Sure it was a long time ago, I’ve never known anything different from bare stone and whitewashed walls – but just think how colourful our English churches once were, how rich the lives of the faithful must have been.

copyright Leo F. Tanner 2019