Live Cathedral services ended

Due to the extreme restrictions on movement of people due to the virus there has been an immediate termination of live broadcasts from Southwark, Canterbury and Winchester Cathedrals.

At present only Southwark has announced alternative arrangements: Morning Prayer 9am and Compline 9pm are being streamed live on Facebook from The Deanery on Bankside.

On Sunday there will be a live Eucharist with a recorded sermon at 11am.

The Dean of Southwark, Andrew Nunn, has written the following prayer at the request of the Association of English Cathedrals:

A Prayer in Lockdown

The doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked. (John 20.19)

Ever present God,

be with us in our isolation,

be close to us in our distancing,

be healing in our sickness,

be joy in our sadness,

be light in our darkness,

be wisdom in our confusion,

be all that is familiar when all is unfamiliar,

that when the doors reopen

we may with the zeal of Pentecost

inhabit our communities

and speak of your goodness

to an emerging world.

For Jesus’ sake.


Oscar Romero: Another Becket

A statue of St Thomas More and a picture of St Oscar Romero above his stole in Canterbury

Today is the 40th anniversary of Oscar Romero’s assassination.

Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero was shot dead at the altar of a hospital chapel on orders of the state having spoken for the poor and appealed to the army not to kill innocent fellow-citizens.

News of his death was a sensation when reported in London as was Thomas Becket’s in 1170 when reported to the Pope.

Oscar Romero is recognised as a martyr and saint. The similarity to Thomas Becket and St Thomas More is overwhelming.

When the time comes for us to be able to go on pilgrimage it will be possible to visit the national St Oscar Romero shrine at the Roman Catholic St George’s Cathedral in Southwark and, on arriving in Canterbury, go to the St Thomas of Canterbury Church and see relics of St Thomas and St Oscar.

Southwark, Canterbury & Winchester: Live worship

Southwark Cathedral: Candles at the Pilgrimage installation by Michelle Rumney

Services are being streamed live from Southwark Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral, the start and climax of the two pilgrim roads.

At Southwark daily services are 9.15 Eucharist and 4pm Evensong. Sunday services are 11am and 3pm.

The backdrop at Southwark Cathedral is the huge Lent artwork called Pilgrimage by Michelle Rumney featuring hanging Pilgrims’ Way maps above guttering candles including one to the height of St Thomas Becket.

Canterbury Cathedral daily services are 12 noon Eucharist and 5.30pm Evensong (3.15pm on Sunday).

The backdrop at Canterbury is the Chair of St Augustine placed before the site of St Thomas Becket’s shrine.

Winchester Cathedral, the start of of longer Pilgrims’ Way to Canterbury, has also started streaming services.

At Winchester the services are 8.30am Eucharist and 5.30pm Evensong. Sunday services are 11am Eucharist and 3.30pm Evensong.

The backdrop is the great screen which is replicated in Southwark Cathedral and seen now as part of the Pilgrimage artwork.

How to join in

Southwark services can be accessed via the cathedral website or Facebook

Canterbury services can be accessed via cathedral website

Winchester services can be accessed via the cathedral website

Live from Canterbury

Canterbury Cathedral cloister

It is extraordinary that whilst many of us are disappointed that we shall not be arriving on foot in Canterbury during this Becket2020 year we are suddenly able to be there daily.

Services are being broadcast live from the cathedral.

The congregation is us watching online.

The reader at today’s noon Mass was canon missioner Emma Pennington who in normal times is responsible for the care of arriving pilgrims.

Monday to Friday
12noon Eucharist
5.30pm Evensong

Saturday & Sunday
9.30am Morning Prayer
12noon Eucharist
3.15pm Evensong

Spur Yard by Peta Bridle

Peta Bridle’s Spur yard etching

The display of Peta Bridle’s dry point etchings in Southwark Cathedral includes an interesting view of Spur Yard before its recent regeneration for a modern hotel.

Spur Yard is one of many old inn yard turnings off Borough High Street. Now it is the entrance to a Premier Inn which may be equally handy for the 2020 pilgrim to Canterbury as the Spur Inn was for one in 1520.

Peta Bridle has been making etchings for the past seven years and, although using a Victorian-syle press, only makes a few prints as each plate is plastic.

Her work reflects her long interest in old Southwark and the river.

The display is in the cathedral’s Lancelot Link.

Spur Yard today with its widened entrance

Becket opera on South Bank

Early image of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral window

An opera based on TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral is being staged at the Queen Elizabeth Hall this month.

Murder in the Cathedral, or Assassinio nella cattedrale, was first performed at La Scala Milan in 1958.

In December 2006 there was a performance in the Basilica of St Nicholas in Bari. St Thomas Becket is patron of nearby Mottola.

The opera in two acts by the Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti is now being staged in English by the Chelsea Opera Group with Sir John Tomlinson (bass) as Archbishop Thomas Becket.

This South Bank performance is on Saturday 28 March at 7.30pm; tickets £17 – £45. A pre-concert talk for ticket-holders is at 6.15pm.

The TS Eliot play was recently staged at nearby Southwark Cathedral and will be performed later this year in Canterbury Cathedral where it was premiered in 1935.

Southwark Cathedral’s Candlelit evening

Michelle Rumney in front of her installation at Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral was a lit by candlelight on Friday evening for an ‘after hours’ viewing of the Lenten art work.

Pilgrimage by Michelle Rumney features candles, strings of hundreds of people measured for the artwork and the route of the road from Southwark to Canterbury traced on huge sheets.

Today’s pilgrim road is the one followed by St Thomas Becket in December 1170 when he left Southwark to return to Canterbury and martyrdom.

The huge candles representing St Thomas Becket and eleven recent dead are made to the height of each person.

Draft from the cathedral’s nearby ‘parish door’ is creating dramatic guttering.

The candles are lit each night at 5.30pm to burn during evensong.

Michelle Rumney will be back at Southwark Cathedral on Sunday 15 March at 12.45pm to meet visitors after the 11am Choral Eucharist.

The east end is transformed for Lent
Pilgrimage candles
The strings, sometimes lit by sun in the day, were lit by the candles during the open evening

Southwark’s pilgrimage art installation

This year’s Lent art installation at Southwark Cathedral has a Pilgrimage theme for Thomas Becket’s 850th anniversary year.

Michelle Rumney has traced the route of the London to Canterbury Pilgrims’ Way on large sheets hanging each side of the high altar.

Above and joined together are the strings of 850 people who were measured top to toe with string for the project.

They include St Thomas Becket’s successor Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby who was measured in Canterbury Cathedral on St Thomas Becket Day 29 December.

The string participation was inspired by the medieval custom known as measuring the saint involving using string to make a candle to a person’s height.

The unique candle was an aid for those praying for the sick, troubled or deceased person.

In front of the Michelle’s Pilgrimage installation are candles made to the height of known people.

One represents St Thomas himself.

Others are the height of recent dead including Marion Marples who for many years was secretary of the Confraternity of St James helping many prepare pilgrims their walk of a lifetime to Santiago de Compostela.

In her last four years she was instrumental in the rediscovery and reawakening of the Pilgrims’ Way route ready for 2020.

The candles will be lit daily to burn for two hours towards the end of the afternoon.

On Friday evening 6 March the cathedral will be open until 9pm and lit only by candlelight. Admission is free daily.

The sun catching the strings at midday
Thomas Becket candle is the tall one on the right. Marion Marples’ candle is to the left.

Pilgrim badges at Museum of London

A graphic Becket pilgrim badge

The Museum of London has the country’s largest collection of pilgrim badges and to mark this Becket2020 anniversary year it has put some on display.

The varied pewter badges were the souvenir to be brought back to the capital from Canterbury by pilgrims.

Hundreds of these souvenirs have been recovered from London excavations and mudlarking activity along the Thames.

There is some evidence that once back home pilgrims nailed their badge to a wall or beam as a reminder of their walk of a lifetime.

There are just four cabinets put out for this special year by the museum but each item is accompanied by interesting information.

The label under the bells reads: ‘An Intolerable racket’.

Apparently some tiny bells were sold in London to those setting out.

In 1407 someone complained that the large numbers of pilgrims on the road had become a nuisance ‘what with the noise of their singing…the sound of their piping and with the jangling of their Canterbury bells, and with the barking of dogs after them’.

Admission to the Museum of London is free.

A first hand account of Becket’s murder in the museum.

To Canterbury from Winchester and London / Leigh Hatts