Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Breedon-on-the-Hill Priory Church, Leicestershire

Peace and Drama of Breedon's Priory Church

Dramatic Setting of Breedon Priory Church GH06010Mindful travel is the essence of The Winding Way approach to exploration. It is about taking time and absorbing what time and place has to offer. Few places are so perfect for taking time out from the noise and rush of the modern world than the Priory Church of Breedon on the Hill in Leicestershire, in the English East Midlands.

For almost one and a half millennia, possibly longer, the top of Breedon Hill has been a place for quiet contemplation and the search for spiritual fulfilment. The intrusion of the modern world may have removed half the hill, but it has only served to make the church’s setting even more dramatic without injuring the peace and quiet.

Breedon Angel, Saxon LD06032The mindful visitor, whatever their religious beliefs, or even of none at all, will find the same tranquillity that must have attracted the early Saxon monks to build their monastic community here in 676AD. Evidence of those early Christians are to be found in some of the most extensive Saxon carvings in Britain, now set into the wall inside the church. The remarkably well preserved Breedon Angel gives his blessing in the Byzantine style. It demonstrates just how widely travelled Christian beliefs and how well connected the Saxons were by the 10th century.

The church and its precinct are separated from the village at the foot of the hill and the church is set within the earthworks of an Iron Age hill fort. Almost half the fort and monastery enclosure has been quarried away leaving the remaining church perched on the edge of the man-made cliff. The traveller who takes the winding way south along the old Birmingham road (A453), instead of the soulless modern motorway (A42/M42), will be rewarded by a dramatic view of the church in front of them. It will draw the natural traveller into a worthwhile diversion. They will be drawn to make a detour as they keep the church in view for several miles, it should generate intrigue and the desire to explore. After all that is what travel on the winding way is all about.

Nave of Breedon Priory Church LD06023Although it is possible to drive the single track road up to the church it is more rewarding to walk up; it is not as far as it looks. The church is only 120 feet (35m) above the village and one can imagine following in the footsteps of the early monks and pilgrims. Even on a grey day the church and its environs are attractive although if there is cold east wind coming uninterrupted from the Urals in Russia it may drive the visitor into the church. They will still be rewarded by a fascinating little church, the remains of the chancel of a much large monastery church.

The visitor should put a few pounds in the honesty box to buy a copy of Brian C.J. William’s booklet Story of St. Mary and St. Hardulph Church. There is so much to see and without it so much would be missed. Both inside and outside the church is a place for quiet contemplation away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Indeed the memorials in the church stress the transience of human life, whatever our station; it is perhaps an important thought on which to reflect in our modern material world. Here is an escape from that materiality, to find your own inner peace whatever your individual beliefs.

Breedon Priory Church LD06052

The Priory Church of Breedon on the Hill and its precinct is the epitome of what The Winding Way is about. Make time when travelling south to Birmingham to take the old winding road and especially to take time to pause and find a real sense of peace by visiting the Priory Church of Breedon on the Hill. I do whenever I can; it is one of my special places.






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Jill Browne (not verified) on 26 March, 2015 - 18:04

Thanks for the story, Martin. The angel looks remarkably detailed, even without considering its age. I guess it's been sheltered from the elements over the centuries. Remarkable and very beautiful.

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Martin P Wilson (not verified) on 26 March, 2015 - 18:05

The Breedon Angel is remarkable. I want to go back and use a tripod to take better interior photographs. I could spend all day there; either taking photographs or just finding calmness in the peace and quiet. It is a wonderful place.

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Sharon Sturgis (not verified) on 26 March, 2015 - 18:06

Okay, Martin. After seeing all these beautiful photos on Winding Way, it makes me realize that I have put off my trip to England too long now. I see that I am missing so much. I realize that when I come I will need more than 1 week. Hope you will be able to put up with me a little longer when I come and Alison and I will need time to shop, too!

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