If Hilda was a nun … 

‘What?, ‘Who?, you probably are asking yourself.

I am always being asked why does Ilchester have a ‘Town Hall’ when it is a large village. You then have to remind folks of the history, and I am sure I do not tell things as well as the Museum or History group would do—sorry folks!

Part of our history includes both having a Priory and a Nunnery at one time.  The mediaeval White Hall Hospital of the Holy Trinity – an Augustinian Nunnery was situated along the south side of the river opposite what was, until recently the car wash. Hilda was probably one of the nuns and her bones turned up in the garden of one of the houses a few years ago. After the Coroner confirmed they were ‘ancient bones’ we obtained permission from the Privy Council to rebury them in St Mary Major churchyard .

Ilchester would have looked somewhat different when Hilda was in town, as did Podimore, Yeovilton and Limington. Podimore was a small rural village with 4 or so farms and its church. Yeovilton and Limington both had large estates; Limington seems to have been a wealthy place. Ilchester along with its  Priory and Nunnery, also had a leper hospital, public executions, pubs and taverns and upwards of 7 churches.

Hilda would have worked in the hospital; evidently they were poorly funded and supported. Hilda would have spent time each day attending to her spirituality in prayer and worship and serving those in need as they arrived at the hospital. Why the prayer and worship, you may ask. Well, you have to take care of yourself to be able to care for others, you need to breathe in as well as out! This is the basis of all  monastic rhythm for each day  —  as it were to catch your breath and refocus for the tasks at hand.

Recent years have maybe reminded us of this truth once more, we are not machines but complex organisms. We need to take in so we might give out to the world about us. Everyone needs a holiday we say, but I wonder if you realize the word, the sentiment is from ‘holy day’. A day of rest, time to catch our breath and refocus our resources. Of course Sundays used to give this to us each week. The rhythm of life for a nun would seek to enable that space each day.

I wonder how your day shapes out? Do you find space and time to catch your breath and refocus? If not, might simplifying things help? Maybe drop into one of the church buildings in Ilchester, Podimore or Limington and allow the peace and prayer of the centuries to seep in for a while. Whichever way it is, take care of yourself!

Blessings Bruce

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