|Where:||Blidworth, Nottinghamshire at Church of St Mary of the Purification|
|When:||1st Sunday in February|
Blidworth hosts a unique survival – the Rocking Ceremony, which is held on the first Sunday in February, close to the festival of Candlemas in which the presentation of baby Jesus at the Temple is commemorated . The male baby born nearest to Christmas Day in the parish is baptised during the morning service and in the afternoon is rocked by the vicar in a beautifully flower bedecked cradle in the church at a special candle-lit service. It is believed that the baby represents the infant Jesus and that in former times perhaps a more elaborate play took place which has evolved into the ceremony we have today.The custom dates back hundreds of years, though it has lapsed and been revived twice. The Rockings Baby is also presented with a special Bible and his name is added later to the roster of Rockings Babies in the parish on the board at the back of the church.
Blidworth is pronounced “Bliddurth” with a silent w. It’s a very welcoming service for all ages which lasts around 45 minutes and has plenty of hymn singing with well-known tunes. Everyone is given a candle, which is lit towards the end. Photography is welcome before and after but not during the service. Whilst well attended, there was plenty of room for visitors in 2014 and all were invited to share refreshments at the end.
A register of all the Rocking Babies since the last revival in 1922 is kept on the Baptistry wall in church and Will Scarlett (of Robin Hood’s Merry Men) is buried in the churchyard just through a small gate to the south-west. Also look out for the modern sculpture commemorating the Rockings on the corner of Mansfield Road/Dale Lane beside the carpark.
Parking is limited near the church so allow plenty of time – some spaces are kindly made available at the pub next door.
In 2018 it will be on Sunday 4th February.
Click here for church contacts: http://www.achurchnearyou.com/blidworth-st-mary-of-the-purification/
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