Former Days

An abbey

You would think a peaceful place

Given to prayer and work

A silent space

Alas a crowd arrived

A pilgrimage of grace

From that encounter

Lending them a horse

The abbey fell

And what befell the abbot

Far far worse


I went to Whalley

One fine Monday morn

With the parish priest of Padiham

Close by

The Monday morning ritual

In full swing

Day off clergy gathered there

Holy Golf their thing


The ruins of the abbey

Still survive

A fine retreat house now

A catholic hall

Foundations of the church

Lie open to the sky

The everlasting question

Why Oh why


Recently some bother

Came again

Drinking underage

A gang of boys

And bothering the parson

Shouting loud obscene

More Henrys and more Cromwells

Joy of joys


Magnificent ruins

Stand across the land

We stare at them

And dream of them when grand

The days of their destruction

We easily forget

And the abbot who died in Lancaster

His name…I’ll remember yet


Brian Fahy

24 October 2021


+ Prompted by an article in today’s Observer, by Julian Coman, entitled Hilary Mantel tells a great tale but ruined abbeys tell a different one.


+ The last abbot of Whalley was John Paslew.

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