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Pillars of the Earth

This is a great book and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get lost in our medieval past. Ken Follett has a slightly racey style but he is still very readable, and in “Pillars” he tells a great story. I’m slightly puzzled by why Kingsbridge Priory remained a Priory despite becoming very successful – I would have thought that it would have been an Abbey, especially with the monumental “cathedral” that was built. I presume it was a cathedral and not an abbey because it was the seat of the bishop. Can anyone explain ?

Follett based his cathedral on Salisbury, and this is one that we would like to produce a picture of. The fortunes of the original Kingsbridge Priory and later the cathedral in his sequel “World Without End” accurately portray the problems that plagued these massive structures, with collapsing walls, towers and fires etc.Howden Restoration 11 200x100 Pillars of the EarthHowden Restoration 2 200x100 Pillars of the Earth

The book was made into a very good mini series for Canadian television – eight hours long and produced by Scott Free Films – both Ridley and Tony Scott as executive producers. The standard of acting is really very good, in fact it’s better than many feature films. The film inevitably changes a number of things from the book, but it’s visual advantage really does bring home how bright and crisp these churches were when they were newly built, unlike to day. I’ve mentioned in a blog before how these buildings are now so eroded and weather beaten that they do not give the same impression as they were built to give. Look at the restored stone work in the valence of Howden Minster and compare it with the weather worn original ! Imagine the whole building looking like this ! “Pillars” does go some way to make you realise what they were like, why they were built, and the turbulent times that spawned them.