Celebration of countryside returns

Flashback: a previous Plough Sunday service at Ripon Cathedral.
Flashback: a previous Plough Sunday service at Ripon Cathedral.
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A tradition that goes back many years will be rolled out in the new year.

The Plough Sunday service will take place in Ripon Cathedral on January 15.

Canon Barry Pyke said: “The observance of Plough Sunday in its present form goes back to Victorian times, but behind it there is a much older observance, associated with the first working day after the twelve days of Christmas.

“Ploughs were brought into parish churches to be blessed before work began the following day on Plough Monday.

“In days when work was scarce in winter, the observance looked forward to the time of sowing with the promise of a harvest to come.

“In Medieval times some communal village ploughs were stored in the parish church.

“At the end of the Christmas season when there was no work, and therefore no wages nor free meals, the ploughmen would haul the plough around the parish begging for silver and threatening to plough up the garden of any who refused.

“Although the nature of farming has changed over the centuries, we see Plough Sunday as a way of celebrating rural life, especially the work of farmers and all who care for the land.”

The service in Ripon Cathedral is a collaboration between the cathedral, the Anglican Diocese of Leeds and four Districts of the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leeds.

The event starts with hot pork rolls, tea and coffee from 2.30pm, while a tractor and plough, provided by Ripon Farm Services, will stand on the cathedral forecourt.

There will be an exhibition of farming and rural charities and organisations in the cathedral.

The service, led by the Bishop of Ripon, will start at 3.30pm.

The address will be given by Poul Christensen CBE, president of The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs. Young Farmers will be tell their stories in a service and there will be displays in the cathedral from organisations involved in supporting those who live and work in the countryside.

During the service a collection will be taken in support of the Addington Fund and Ripon Cathedral.

Canon Pyke said: “Everyone with an interest in farming, rural communities and the environment is warmly invited to this celebration of the countryside.”