Farmers gathered for Plough Sunday tradition in Thaxted
PUBLISHED: 11:24 16 January 2020
Saffron Photo 2019
Farmers took their soil into the church to be blessed. Blessings were made over vintage and modern ploughs, and the congregation heard about a bishop's childhood in India where he walked barefoot.
This was all part of Plough Sunday celebration held at Thaxted Church on Sunday, January 12. The occasion saw 230 people attend, some who had travelled from distrances across the county.
Reverend Janet Nicholls, diocesan rural adviser and agricultural chaplain, said: "Many farmers brought soil from their farms to be blessed at the service. The point is to affirm the farmers in their work. The vintage plough symbolised the respect for our agricultural heritage, bringing that into the centre of our service."
The plough was taken into the church by the Thaxted Morris Men, who traditionally dance at the occasion.
The ceremony continued outside the church, where a blessing of a big modern plough took place, officiated by the Right Revd John Perumbalath, Bishop of Bradwell.
The bishop spoke of his childhood on a farm in India. He said he used to walk barefoot and that gave him a connection with the earth.
"That gives us an image of connecting to the earth as a land for our food," Revd Nicholls said.
After the outdoor blessings, the Essex Young Farmers drove 30 tractors, specially washed and polished for the day, as part of the end of the procession.
The Sampford singers led the church singing. The traditional hymns included We Plough the Fields and Scatter.
Revd Nicholls concluded: "It was a really happy day with lots of fun and laughter. My favourite part was seeing the farmers gathered together looking so happy. We were delighted with the attendance, it was great.
"The overriding memory I have of the day is of the farmers leaving the day with affirmation and hope for their work.
"It's a really important heritage in Thaxted. I would like to express my thanks to all those involved in the church of Thaxted, the Sampfords, Radwinter and Hempstead for their hospitality, the Thaxted Morris Men, and the church team, who prepared the hot lunches."