Hamble Church Pilgrimage page
A Recent Pilgrimage to Thiron - Our Mother Church near Chartres
As part of our 2009 celebrations some 40 pilgrims went to Thiron in France to renew acquaintances with
those who now worship in the church
from where the Benedictine monks were based that built St. Andrew's nearly 900 yeas ago.
After meeting the local Abbe, the Mayor and other officials
Fr. John Travers took a mass at the very ancient altar of the abbey church.
Although there was no heating or organ the acoustics were
superb - so good in fact that you did not need an instrument to be able to sing hymns.
We all sang the hymn Jerusalem the Golden,
which was written by St. Bernard of Cluny, celebrated the Mass and we were joined by both the
Abbe and council officials.
A kneeler, which had been made by the ladies of the church, was presented to the Abbe to record
our visit. We then went to
the visitor centre where we presented the town with an inscribed plate and a picture of St. Andrew's.
During a champagne reception the Mayor cut the
cake, which had been brought from Hamble, with Fr. John
and gave us a large token together with a book depicting the history of Thiron as a keepsake.
We visited a chateau and Chartres Cathedral the next day listening to a very good mixed choir. The Cathedral
had a son et lumiere each evening which was well worth attending and many people, as well as our party, came and saw the
lights and shapes depicted against the west end of the building.
The next day we all set off for Paris and Sacre couer. The setting to Sacre couer is very picturesque with the many steps
leading to the building. As we had already pre-booked a service time in the Crypt
we were shown to the chapel and our Mass began. We again began with a hymn and
celebrated the Mass in stunning surroundings. Everyone took communion, including two people who had been
confirmed the previous Sunday by Bishop Edwin Barnes in Hamble Church. They had had the privilege
of making their first communion after Confirmation as a family in Thiron Church and their next communion at Sacre coeur.
After Lunch in the artist quarter of the city we went on a sight seeing tour of the capital before travelling the not
inconsiderable distance back to our base in Chartres.
It was now time for home - back to Hamble. On the way we visited Monet's Garden to see the beautiful flowers
and the small lake where he based many of his paintings. There were many people in the garden which made photography
rather difficult but there were lots of photographs taken and interesting flowers observed. The house where Monet lived
was open and many took the opportunity to look around the building where the artist resided for many years. In the village
itself there were many delightful French restaurants where typical food was served
and as pilgrims we took the opportunity to sample the delights of good cooking. After our visit it was back to
Calais, through the tunnel returning to Hampshire tired but spiritually refreshed with wonderful
memories of being part of a great tradition known as the Church of God.
Just imagine it is 900 years ago. Many monks had dedicated their lives to the service
of God by serving him in Holy Orders. The mother church is there in Thiron. It is sending out its
monks as missionaries to all parts of France and England. The spread of the Gospel is at its height.
They decide to build a church here in Hamble as well as one at Hound and at Bursledon,
the only three to remain having been continually worshipped in within Britain itself.
They transported the stone from Caen in France across the water on wooden rafts. They must
have been hardy souls acclimatised to cold in the shadow of the church building. It is known
that the climate in England in the 13th Century was cooler than in the previous one.
The monks wore
a grey habit, were bearded and grew their hair long. They maintained the seven daily offices
according to the Benedictine rule. It was an austere time both physically and mentally.
As an alien priory with a mother house in France, the priory and its estates were confiscated
by King Edward III upon the outbreak of wars with that country. In 1377 French raiders, on returning
from a raid on Southampton, left the priory a plundered ruin. The church lay roofless until the turn of the century
when it was repaired by William of Wickham, Bishop of Winchester (1367 - 1404) who had acquired the priory and its estates
to endow his new colleges in Oxford and Winchester in 1391. He probably destroyed most of the monastic buildings and
used the stone to repair the church and tower which by then were in a ruinous condition. The closing scene came in
the days of Henry V (1413 - 1422) when Hamble Priory was finally suppressed. The connection with Winchester College remains
today. As Patron of the Living, the College appoints the Vicar
of Hamble, and still owns land here.
We use the word "Church" to describe a building but this is misleading. The word really refers to the people who use
the building, the community of men and women, boys and girls. Looking around an empty church building is really like
looking at an empty football pitch: it only makes sense when you see it in use by people. This can be done at our
services throughout the week and at our main service which is the Parish Eucharist every Sunday at 10am. It is because
we are a community of people united in faith and love to our Lord Jesus Christ and to each other that we strongly
felt that we must re-establish our link to our mother church in Thiron.