Cirencester Scene July 2017

‘900 Years is an Awfully Long Time’ – One of the Abbey 900 Series – by J R Moeller


Two tourists from across the pond contemplate the awesomeness of history.

“Whatever way you look at it, 900 years is an awfully long time.”

“You can say that again.”

“Whatever way you look at…”

“I didn’t mean that literally.”

“A rhetorical question then?”

“It wasn’t a question, more a statement.”

“What’s next?”

“What do you mean, what’s next. We haven’t seen everything here.”

“It’s another stone building, gloomy and grey. We’ve seen plenty of them.”

“England is full of grey and gloomy buildings. Anyway, this isn’t the building that’s 900 years old. It’s the Abbey next door.”

“There’s another grey and gloomy building next door?”

“It’s been torn down.”

“Who did that?”

“Henry the Eighth.”

“Did he need another car park?”

“This place could use another car park.”

“Who built the Abbey?”

“Henry the First in 1117.”

“Let me get this right. How many abbeys did Henry’s two to seven get rid of?”


“So why was this place singled out? Did Henry the Eighth bear a grudge against the Abbey?”

“He wanted to divorce his wife to marry Anne Boleyn. Surely you know the story?”

“How many wives did he have?”


“Six! Think of the alimony! He must have been mad.”

“Unhinged, maybe.”

“Good King Henry, mad as a hatter. What’s this about hatters? Do you know any mad hatters?”

“Never mind about that. That’s the arsenic in making hats. Here’s the Boleyn cup.”

They stopped in front of a hole gouged out of a wall inside the church. In the hole was a goblet, gold, and heavily guarded by bars and reinforced glass.

“Okay, so she got a cup? What did Henry get?”

“The library of the Abbey.”

“The library? A few mouldy books. Is that it?”

“They were valuable. Henry had an eye for the main chance, or his advisers did.”

“Were they first editions or something? Signed by the author? I’ve got one of those. Do you think it’s valuable?”

“Is the author famous?”

“Jeeze, how’m I supposed to know?”

“The site of the Abbey is outside. Shall we look at it?”

“We’ve paid for the tour. Might as well get the most for our money.”

They went outside and found the stones set in the grass which marked the site of the Abbey. They walked around the periphery of the building.

“That wasn’t much to write home about. Why was there an Abbey as well as a church?”

“One was for the town and the other for higher things.”

“I’ll never understand the English. Where’s next?”

“Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s birthplace. The theatre tonight.”

“Did he write Romeo and Juliet? It’s the only Shakespeare I know.”

“We’re seeing one of the Henry’s. Henry IV, part one.”

“Only Part One? What about Part Two?”

“It’s not being performed this year.”

“Shesh. You mean we have to come back another year to find out how it comes out?”

“You can always read it.”

“It’s not the same.”

“It never is.”