Plough Sunday is observed in Thaxted

PUBLISHED: 14:38 09 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:38 09 January 2017

Plough Sunday at Thaxted Church

Plough Sunday at Thaxted Church

Roger King

A traditional church service for Essex dating back to medieval times celebrating farmers was held in Thaxted at the weekend.

Plough Sunday blesses agricultural equipment and offers prayers for a good growing season for farmers.

A service was held by the Chelmsford Diocese, which covers Essex, at Thaxted Church on Sunday.

The observance of Plough Sunday on the first Sunday of Epiphany dates back to Victorian times – but there is a much older observance behind it, associated with the first working day after the twelve days of Christmas.

In medieval times some ploughs were kept in the parish church, and some churches kept a ‘plough-light’.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell, said: “Plough Sunday offers an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with the earth itself, a relationship we too easily take for granted – but also to pray for all those who work on the land and to give thanks for God’s provision.”

One farmer who so appreciated the plough blessing last year asked for his new combine harvester to be blessed before harvest, and Reverend Janet Nicholls, rural adviser and agricultural chaplain for the Chelmsford Diocese, hosted a bespoke Combine Harvester blessing with his family and a rep from Manns who supplied the combine, in his farmyard.

Rev Nicholls said: “The Plough Sunday service gave us the opportunity to support and affirm farmers in their work.

“We recognised their dedication and commitment in producing our food and maintaining our countryside and rural communities, and we asked for God’s blessing on all who work on the land as we look forward to a new growing season.

“I’m pleased the church has these openings throughout the year – Plough Sunday, Rogation, Lammas and Harvest Festival – to raise the profile of the work and commitment of our farmers in providing the food to keep us all fed and in doing so maintaining a vibrant countryside supporting employment and rural communities.”

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