It’s an interesting name isn’t it. It immediately conjures up images of the Welsh rock band with Andy Fairweather Low of ‘Bend Me Shape Me’ and ‘Half As Nice’ fame but that is not where the name comes from. It goes back much farther than that.
There are numerous places that bear this name, including thoroughfares and literal corners such as this. The name is thought to date from the 19th century in America where it was often used to describe the corner of some protestant churches, usually beside the pulpit, occupied by a group of people who led the responsive ‘amens’ of the congregation. It was also used to describe a corner of a church where a group of particularly ardent worshippers sat.
In this country, it is often used on processional prayer routes where monks would have walked the streets praying and say their final ‘amen’ at a particular corner. This applies to several places in London. On a more gruesome note, it is thought sometimes to relate back to the days when gallows were erected at a particular corner and where people uttered their last ‘amen’!
This particular Amen Corner is a crossroads at the end of the delightful village of Gussage All Saints in Dorset. This is an ancient settlement that dates back to the Bronze Age with Ackling Dyke, that ancient super-highway running nearby. There was once a chapel at Amen Corner, originally of timber construction but subsequently of cob. It was a meeting place and a place of prayer and Henry III is said to have called here in the 13th century.
The truth about the name here is probably a lot more mundane than some of the others and it may simply refer to the fact that this is the last house in the village – and it is appropriately named Amen Cottage.
I pass through here on a regular basis, either on foot or on two wheels. This visit was near the end of a 75 mile bike ride on a beautiful evening as the low sun slanted through the trees. I could not help myself but had to stop and take this picture of what is a particularly lovely part of Dorset.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler
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