"Provides a fine contribution to the rich history of the region, showing Evesham's place in the life of the medieval kingdom of England." Professor Ann Williams.
In c.701, a minster was founded in the lower Avon Valley on a deserted promontory called Evesham. Over the next five hundred years it became a Benedictine abbey and turned the Vale of Evesham into a federation of Christian communities. A landscape of scattered farms grew into one of open fields and villages, manor houses and chapels. Evesham itself developed into a town, and the abbots played a role in the affairs of the kingdom. But individual contemplation and prayer within the abbey were compromised by its corporate aspirations. As Evesham abbey waxed ever grander, exerting a national influence, it became a ready patron of the arts but had less time for private spirituality. The story ends badly in the prolonged scandal of Abbot Norreis, a libertine whose appetites caused religion to collapse at Evesham before his own sudden downfall.
This book integrates the evidence of archaeology, maps, and documents in a continuous narrative that pays as much attention to religious and cultural life as to institutional and economic matters. It provides a complete survey over one of the most important and wealthy Benedictine abbeys and its landscape, a stage on which was enacted the tense interplay of lordship and prayer.
Dr David Cox, FSA, was until his retirement county editor of the Victoria History of Shropshire and lecturer at Keele University.