The Ancestor of the Abbey of Waltham

Many strangers passing through the lovely Abbey Gardens at Waltham Abbey  –  and The Ancestor and the Church Centreperhaps a few locals too  –  see just a wooden post standing in the middle of some grass.   Their eyes probably don’t take in the shape carved into the wood.   But here, in the best picture of The Ancestor (as it is actually called) that I have ever seen, it is quite clear what the post is.   It is a tall, thin medieval monk looking out over the site of his monastery.   In Waltham Abbey’s case he would have been an Augustinian Canon.   His hands are clasped in front of him;  his head is cowled;  and his features are very clear.

Many thanks to Henry Ward Property Solutions for a wonderful photograph and permission to use it.

Thomas Tallis – a person of Waltham Abbey

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1585 of Thomas Tallis, considered one of England’s greatest early composers and having a most important place in the development of English sacred music.

During his working life he saw four monarchs, and the religion changed several times between Catholic and Protestant, yet he managed to survive.

For a period Thomas Tallis was organist at the Augustinian Great Abbey of Waltham until its dissolution in 1540 under Henry VIII.   Today we in the town of Waltham Abbey remember one of the most important people to have lived here.