On Saturday, 28 January, Abba Seraphim led a group of pilgrims from London and Lincolnshire, on a visit to Croyland Abbey at Crowland in Lincolnshire.
In the 8th century the area was wild fenland in one of the remotest and mostly desolate parts of the Saxon Kingdom of Mercia. It was here, that Guthlac, a young nobleman and monk at the monastery of Repton in Derbyshire, decided to establish an island hermitage. Although he died quite young in 714, his sanctity and ascetic life had a considerable impact on his contemporaries and, within two years of his death, a monastery was built on the island and survived for more than eight centuries until its suppression by King Henry VIII. After that the magnificent Abbey fell into ruins, with only the 15th century tower and the north aisle surviving as the present-day parish church. After viewing the many fine surviving architectural features of the church and the ruined remains of the old monastery, including the Parvise Chapel above the porch, where is kept a skull, believed to be that of Abbot Theodore, martyred by the Danes whilst at prayer in 870; Abba Seraphim led the pilgrims in prayer honouring St. Guthlac and invoking his patronage. The courtesy and assistance of the small team of volunteer guides, who are available every day to assist pilgrims and other visitors, was greatly appreciated. After leaving the Abbey, Abba Seraphim led the pilgrims into the town, where they also viewed the “Trinity Bridge”, built between 1360-90, to replace one built by King Æthelbald of Mercia at the same time as the original monastery. It is an unique three-way stone bridge, which once spanned the confluence of the River Welland and one of its tributaries. Now marooned in the centre of town some way from the river-front, it is a reminder of how the drainage of the fens transformed the wilderness to which St. Guthlac retreated and made the area habitable.