In Derbyshire, on the banks of the Trent River, stands a limestone Anchorite cave church. Archaeologist Edmund Simons said: “Our findings demonstrate that this odd little rock-cut building in Derbyshire is more likely from the 9th century than from the 18th century as everyone had originally thought. This makes it probably the oldest intact domestic interior in the UK – with doors, floor, roof, windows, etc.- and, what’s more, it may well have been lived in by a king who became a saint.”
Anchor Churches, or more properly Anchorite Churches from the greek anachōreō meaning “to withdraw” or “to depart into the countryside,” were built in the 6th through the 9th centuries. They were the cells of hermits who withdrew to live a solitary life of meditation and prayer.
This particular cave church was most likely occupied by Eardwulf, King of Northumbria after he was exiled from power, a somewhat common practice in those days. His devotion resulted in his canonization as Saint Hardulph, a nearby church bears his name.
On my next trip in the area I plan to take the Anchor Church Walk in the Village of Ingleby, which passes by this and other cave churches in the area. I would love to sketch these plein air, and I know Tricia will take some great photos for her blog Travels Through My Lens.
Here are a few other recent sketches. I hope you are sketching and getting out more.