Silent Sunday…. So Off to Church


West Door, Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire

These magnificent ruins stand proud on the headland towering above the Fishing Village of Whitby.  Founded in 657AD by Hild of Whitby a Christian Saint and credited with advancing the cause of Christianity across Yorkshire and surrounds.  Why here in such an exposed location, well maybe as this was earlier in time a Roman Site had something to do with it.

Whitby Abbey was originally a Christian Monastery but late became a Benedictine Abbey. Like so many religious establishments Whitby did not escape the destructions caused by King Henry VIII and his Dissolution of the Monasteries policies.

Despite only these dramatic ruins remaining, a visit still overpowers you with its size and detailed architecture.  It is a place to ponder on the skills of the builders, the rich colours of the stone, the resilience of the Brethren who once lived here and the cruel eviction in the Dissolutions.  You can still enjoy peace and tranquillity that exist today despite being one of Yorkshire most visited Tourist attractions.  No tour of Yorkshire is complete without a visit.



11th February

(C) David Oakes 2018


Silent Sunday….So Off to Church


Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire

A winters day in Wharfedale, North Yorkshire.  Some years since we last visited… But the evocative mood of a late winters afternoon standing on the banks of a swift flowing River Wharf gazing across to the ruins of this 12century Augustinian Monastery still lingers on.  It was certainly cold but we left with a warm feeling.

(Bolton Abbey is part of the Duke of Devonshire’s Estate whom have their seat of residence at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire)

4th January

(C) David Oakes 2018


Silent Sunday…So Off to Church


Saksunar Kirkja, Faroe

This has to be one of my favourite churches, so no excuses for showing it again. The grass roofed church of Saksun  located on the shores of a sea loch at the end of Saksunardalur.  The evocative dark mountains, the waters running down every crevasse, vegetation that is still a vibrant lush green even on the darkest of Faroe days all add to the drama of the location of this little church.

What make it even more interesting is that this church is in its second home. Originally it was located on the opposite side of the mountains at Tjornuvik.  But the congregation at that time had to make a very long trek to worship.  So in 1858 the church was disassemble, carried over the mountains and reconstructed where it is today. The task cannot have been easy, but being entirely constructed of wood made the task possible.  Stone walls have since been added at this new location.

When we were there the church was locked which was a shame….but that did nothing to detract from the spiritual feeling of solitude and peace, yet at the same time, a personal feeling of insignificant below the surrounding mountain. It possibly goes without saying that it was raining on our visit….on looking at other images of Saksun it would appear that this is the usual.  Maybe that was part of the beauty.

28th January

(C) David Oakes 2018

Sunday……. So Off to Church


Our Lady of Kazan, Zelenogorsk, Russia

Zelenogorsk is on the Gulf of Finland just north of St. Petersburg.  The church was built in 1915 when this area was part of the Grand Duchy of Finland.  In terms of churches it is not that old. None the less in its short life it has seen much turbulence of wars and revolution …and in that time suffered the consequences of such violent actions.

After the Soviet Army invaded during WW2 the church was used as a warehouse.

Today you would be hard pressed visualise such times as  Our Lady of Kazan, which is an Russian Orthodox Church, was renovated in the 1970’s to much of its former glory.


To say the interior is lavish is perhaps an understatement.  It is a mix of gold and brass which helps display the enormous collection of historic Icons that are on display.

The church was re-consecrated in 1990  and once again a place of regular worship.

For a church that has endured such violence and turmoil it setting is surprisingly tranquil….surround by tall trees on the edge of a woodland area Our Lady of Kazan is set in the perfect Zelenogorsk setting…


3rd December

(C) David Oakes 2017

Silent Sunday…… So off to Church


Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey, or to give it its Sunday name “Saint Marys Abbey” can be found in one of the most idyllic settings of any Abbey.  Above the banks of the River Tweed and in the shadow of the Eildon Hills the Cistercian Monks who founded the Abbey in 1136 chose the location well.  Built under the instruction of King David I of Scotland it became an important religious and civic centre for many centuries.

Like so many others, Melrose Abbey did see much conflict. Being in the heart of the Scottish Border country (in Roxburghshire) it did not, perhaps could not, escape involvement in the constant Scottish/England  power struggles…but perhaps it was Oliver Cromwell assault during the Civil Wars of the 16th Century that brought an end to monastic life at Melrose.

No visitor to the Scottish Borders should miss the opportunity to visit Melrose, whilst the town itself has much to enjoy, it is the peaceful location of the Abbey that demands a pause to reflect and enjoy.

5th November

(C) David Oakes 2017