Monday, March 13, 2017

The Old Haunts of Margery Kempe

Just yesterday evening, I had the delight of visiting St. Margaret's church in King's Lynn, where some six centuries past, Margery Kempe worshipped. It looks much the the same now as it must have then, although some of the gothic arches are leaning a bit, like the Tower of Pisa, and the sanctuary is now dominated by a nineteenth-century baptismal font and altarpiece. It seemed to me as though I could still her her loud crying, as well as the shusshing of her neighbors in the adjoining pews, echoing in these ancient stones. Margery is a bit of a tourist draw these days -- there's an exhibit of her life at the nearby town museum, and the church itself has a small plaque and a page on its website that recounts her life. From there, I was reminded that William Sawtre, the very first accused Lollard to have been burned at the stake under Henry IV's statute, was once vicar there.

I was guided about King's Lynn by a friend who lives in the neighboring town of Downham Market; one can see that it was once an active merchant port, with many narrow cobbled streets that lead to the waterfront. I was also able to see, though not go inside, the Guildhall, where John Kempe would have had a seat at the dais, and which sponsored many medieval mystery plays (which Margery notes that she attended). Part of the Hall is now an arts centre, where contemporary plays are put on. The rest of the modern town has an area of relatively posh shops (the coast of Norfolk being popular with affluent families), but there's also a fair share of poverty; the industrial revolution largely passed King's Lynn by, and for many folk in the region, farming is still the principal employment.

8 comments:

  1. I love looking at the architecture of some of they old churches. I think it is really neat to see the history behind them under the rulings of different kings. I have never been to England, if I should ever go, it's great to know the history behind some of the churches.
    I still find the story of Margery Kemp kind of sad. It would be interesting to see if there is any literature in regards to Margery's life that is not depressing.

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  2. This older architecture is beautiful. It's always interesting to see things that time has spared rather than destroyed.

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  3. I love visiting locations that have a context to what I'm reading and learning in my english classes! When I was in American Literature and reading Emily Dickinson I had the opportunity to visit her home/her museum, up in Amherst, MA. I find that being in locations like that makes the readings come alive; you get to see places the writer walked and worked, or in Margery Kemp's case, worshipped.

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  4. It is always nice to see old buildings like these preserved in such nice condition. Seeing locations that we read about in classes, in a way can help personify those in the stories. Even though they are stories about real people, when the story takes places hundreds of years ago it can be hard to visualize certain things. Seeing the exact places where these stories happened really helps you get a feel and understanding for the era they took place in.

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  5. I absolutely adore architecture such as this, it always leaves me awe to think about not only the work that went into building something so beautiful, but thinking about the history that has occurred there. Not to mention thinking about the way in which something like that has made others feel. It has an almost haunting vibe to it which I love.

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  6. I love to travel and go visit things such as this. This makes me happy that buildings that are this old are kept in such beautiful and pristine shape. It's so amazing to think that buildings like this have been up for such long amounts of time and still are standing strong. I hope to visit something like this one day. Seems fascinating!

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  7. Older architecture has always stood out to me personally. The main reason is that there is so much history behind the the architectural designs of the locations. It's especially interesting when you read about a time and the art seems to come alive because of the knowledge you have.

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  8. It is always amazing to see how original architecture holds up over time. And it is even more fascinating to be able to link works of literature or writers to specific places. Sometimes it makes the works that they have written to make even more sense to us, and allow us to time travel in a way to when the writing was done.

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