Bishop Helen-Ann – with Dean John – blessing a plough kindly brought to the cathedral – along with a tractor by Ripon Farm Services.
We were pleased to welcome the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to our Plough Sunday service – a celebration of rural life and an opportunity to thank God for all those who care for the land.
The service was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Jo Ropner – representing Her Majesty The Queen and the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire Chris Legard as well as other civic dignitaries from across the region. During the service, on Sunday January 13, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police Lisa Winward spoke on rural crime.
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 no Universal Credit!) the ploughmen would haul the plough around the parish begging for silver and threatening to plough up the garden of any who refused!
The service here was a collaboration between the cathedral, the Diocese of Leeds and four Districts of the Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Other participants included representatives of Yorkshire Young Farmers Clubs, Future Farmers of Yorkshire, Farming Help Charities and The Yorkshire Agricultural Society. Prior to the service were entertained with a display of long sword dancing by Highside Longsword.