On Sunday 11 January, a plough and tractor will be blessed on the Cathedral Green (near the Norman Tower) in Bury St Edmunds to mark Plough Sunday. The tractor and plough are being provided by the Chairman of Bury St Edmunds NFU, Andrew Blenkiron, who is Estate Director of the Euston Estate and also Vice Chairman of Suffolk NFU. The blessing will take place following the 3.30 pm service of Choral Evensong at the Cathedral. During the service, local farmer James Stamper will read the lesson and prayers will be said by Agricultural Chaplain, Canon Sally Fogden. Representatives of the National Farmers’ Union and the local farming community are invited to the service.
Canon Philip Banks, Precentor at the Cathedral, comments: ‘It is a tradition to use this Sunday, to give thanks for this important part of Suffolk’s economy and the people who work in all weathers to bring food to our tables.’
The observance of Plough Sunday on the First Sunday after Epiphany 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, hence ‘Plough Monday’ in some places. In medieval times some ploughs were kept in the parish church, and some churches kept a ‘plough-light’. 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. Some Christian communities have reintroduced it as a focus for asking a blessing on human labour near the start of the calendar year.
Members of the public are most welcome to join the service and the plough blessing afterwards.