Locales > Devon and Cornwall
If you have absolute certainty. If you are certain of the power of God. Then you build an abbey. You build an abbey to last millennia.
If you have that vision and the ability to make it come true then you found Buckfast Abbey.
Buckfast Abbey celebrates the power of a few dedicated men and you should visit it.
The first place you should visit is the visitors centre. This is a brand new extravaganza of the finest in audio visual displays. When you enter you walk down a long corridor where disembodied voices of monks speak to you.
Then there is this transparent model of the cathedral which lights in different colours with overhead and rear projection explaining the history as you press buttons to choose the next scene. Exquisite.
Turning the corner you see this powerful projection telling the epic story that brings you the Buckfast Abbey view of the world. It is truly epic. Moving on you interact with more exhibits and understand more of the vocation of these dedicated monks.Then you emerge blinking into the daylight and the gardens that lie before you.
The first is the Lavender Garden contains over 100 varieties. I didn’t know there were that many. They fill the air with their scent and the bees are everywhere in attendance.
Next up we visit the The Buckfast Abbey Millennium Show Garden. The abbey says that it is about balance, space, peacefulness, rejuvenation and authenticity. The balance of life and death, creativity and growth are all represented by the interweaving of planting and deadwood structures. The colour scheme is muted and the ambience tranquil. It was shown at the RHS Malvern Show and won the peoples choice best show garden award.
We move into the Sensory Garden which is based on designs for medieval pleasure gardens and is intended to stimulate the senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch. It is a peaceful, yet inspiring, corner of the grounds.
Finally we come into the Physic garden where we can enjoy plants with medicinal uses as well as fine ornament.
The centre piece of the complex is St Mary’s Abbey, the Buckfast Abbey Cathedral.
This was designed by the 19th century Architect Frederick Walters. He was the go to catholic Architect responsible for over 50 catholic churches. The architecture of this church is based around Fountains Abbey and Kirkstall Abbey. It is built on the foundations of the medieval abbey building. It was begun in 1907 and consecrated in 1932 and completed around 1938. It was built mostly by a group of 6 monks led by a master mason. The furnishings, floors, painted decoration and stained glass are sumptuous. At the east end has been added a strikingly modern chapel showcasing the mosaic glasswork of Father Charles Norris, one of the Abbey monks. The whole church has recently been restored, cleaned and refloored.
It is as close as possible to the textbook idea of a Catholic Cathedral. You have all of the elements present – you enter into the soaring nave, with aisles either side, before you go through the crossing with it’s tower rising to the heavens, beyond is the choir and the high altar and then the ambulatory surrounded by chapels.
It is difficult not to be moved by the perfection, the design and above all the concept behind it all.
It is a tribute to the Benedictine Monks who in their words
“live lives of commitment to Christ and His Church In the 21st Century”
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