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Plough Sunday celebrated at Ripon Cathedral

First published on: 15th January 2024

The importance of our farmers and the work they do to feed us and protect the countryside was celebrated at a Plough Sunday service at Ripon Cathedral on Sunday, January 14.

Plough Sunday is an ancient festival that was revived by the Victorians.

Traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after Epiphany, historically the village plough was brought into church for a blessing before ploughing began on Plough Monday, the first working day after the 12 days of Christmas.

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.

At the service, the Bishop of Ripon, The Right Reverend Anna Eltringham, gave the address and a ploughshare was presented by members of the Yorkshire Federation of Young Farmers Clubs for a blessing by The Very Revd John Dobson, Dean of Ripon.

As part of the service, a tractor was placed outside the Cathedral courtesy of Ripon Farm Services, and the Highside Longsword Dancers performed to mark the moment.

Local representatives of farming charities attended, alongside civic figures.

The Very Revd John, who led the service said: “We at Ripon Cathedral always rejoice in organising this service in partnership with the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

“It is a highlight of the early months of the year, a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution made to the common good by those who farm and work in food production industries, as well as many within rural communities.

“We pray for God’s blessing on their efforts, as well as on our attempts to care for the environment.”

Allister Nixon, Chief Executive of farming charity the Yorkshire Agricultural Society said: “As crucial stewards of the nation’s precious food-producing landscapes, farming families will continue to have the support of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society whatever the year ahead brings.

“So, in time-honoured tradition, we partnered with Ripon Cathedral for its Plough Sunday Service where blessings will be offered to those who farm the land.

“We wish our farmers and their families a productive and fulfilling 2024.”

For many farming families, 2024 means looking for the best ways to adapt to new government policies, and trialling and adopting increasingly innovative approaches to farmland management and food production.

It may also mean pursuing ways to secure their futures by diversifying what they farm and adding value through new ventures.

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