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(June 15–24, 2012)

William M. Delabarre

Mt. Greylock

Richard Crowest

Bayham Abbey

Near Lamberhurst, Kent, England, UK

Sunday 24 June 2012, 3.37pm BST

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© 2012 Richard Crowest, All Rights Reserved.

These photogenic ruins are all that remains of an Augustinian abbey founded in the 1200s. They're a classic example of what we think of as "heritage" - something old, historic and aesthetic.

In the late 1990s I studied heritage interpretation for a master's degree. One of the topics we addressed was the difference between history and heritage. Put simply, heritage is best described as what the past has bequeathed to us - the physical and cultural artefacts that remain - while history is the study of past events - an ongoing, ever-changing process.

The interpretation of heritage, though, is a different matter. To me, the significance of these remains lies as much in their ruined state as in the fabric of the stones themselves. They bear witness to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, a process that was part of a schism between the church in England and the Pope in Rome. That division led to bloody wars across the centuries that cost thousands of lives, and whose echoes are still felt in parts of these islands today. These social and cultural phenomena are as much a part of our heritage as the ruins of Bayham Abbey.

To the original Premonstratensian canons who worshipped in this abbey church, the break with Rome would have been just as unimaginable as the technological wonders of the Web by which we can share this 360-degree view. Visiting here, it's not hard to imagine their lives in these isolated, imposing buildings. For me, though, these stones evoke more ghosts than just theirs.

Bayham Abbey is in the care of English Heritage.

There are more panoramas of the ruins on my web site.
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Canon EOS 450D, Sigma 10mm fisheye lens, Manfrotto tripod & levelling head, Nodal Ninja 5 pano head. Exposures blended in Photoshop and stitched in AutoPano Giga.

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