A new ‘Bairn Bishop’ enthroned in Dales church

After widespread national news coverage last year, when Bishop Rosie Wilson was made the first ‘Bairn Bishop’ at the village church of Horton-in-Ribblesdale she has passed on her mitre to a new Bairn Bishop.

On the Feast of St Nicholas, Sunday 6th December, eight year-old Esther Rhodes succeeded Rosie as Bairn Bishop of the ancient parish church of St Oswald’s.

Esther moved into the village at Easter with her parents and, along with her six year old brother Edward attends Horton Primary School.

The picture shows Esther (right) handing a Santa biscuit to Edward, her brother, a reminder of the gold coins that Nicholas left anonymously to save three girls from poverty and worse. With them is the Revd Stephen Dawson, Priest in Charge of Langcliffe with Stainforth and Horton in Ribblesdale.

During the service the children helped create and decorate red mitres and heard some of the other legends surrounding Nicholas, historically the Bishop of Myra and a signatory to the Nicene Creed. He became popularly known as Santa Claus the gift-giver.

In medieval England boy or bairn bishops would run the parish from 6th December until Childermass on 28th December, now the Feast of the Holy Innocents. The tradition lapsed following an edict from Henry VIII, but some ancient cathedrals and parishes continue to celebrate Nicholas in this memorable way.

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