Sword-dancers visit St John’s

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THE start of the New Year saw the congregation of St John’s Church in Knaresborough celebrate Plough Sunday last weekend.

The traditional event sees the Claro Sword and Morris Men Dancers from Harrogate visit the church to perform the sword dance after the blessing of the plough has taken place during the service.

In an event which dates back to medieval times and marks the end of the arable farm workers’ annual holiday, and signals the start of the ploughing, the key date in the traditional Anglican calendar is the first Sunday after Epiphany – the day the Three Wise Men arrived to announce the baby Jesus as God - and the day before Plough Monday.

Sword-dancers used to celebrate the start of the new season in the fields by taking the plough round to collect money, usually to the accompaniment of noisy singing, dancing and drinking.

The custom was revived in 1983 in Knaresborough and as well as the sword dances, a mock horse Dobbin is usually on hand to delight and entertain local children.