Salisbury Boy Bishop

Where: Salisbury, Wiltshire at the Cathedral
When: Weekend nearest 6th December
Time: At Evensong (times vary 3 pm - 5.30pm- double check the event website)

 

St Nicholas’ Day falls on December 6th and because he is patron saint of children, it was appropriate for this to be the chosen date to elect a Boy Bishop. In the past it was a common practice in many larger churches and Cathedrals to elect a chorister to act as Bishop for a short period in advent in a typical role-reversal custom whereby masters and servants swap places. Most of these practices ceased at the reformation but the custom still takes place in revived form at Salisbury Cathedral in a ceremony reconstructed from medieval practices. The Boy Bishop wears replica episcopal robes and he leads the prayers, receives the collection and delivers his own sermon – his reign lasts for the day.

Helpful Hints

In 2016 it was on Sunday 4th December at 4.30pm – 2017 date is yet to be confirmed but will probably be Sunday 3rd.

For the very first time in 2015 it was a girl Chorister Bishop . The ceremony was on Saturday 7th December in 2013 so day of the week may vary a little from year to year.The timing of the event has also varied by a couple of hours over recent years so I’d advise it’s wise to double-check near the time as it’s easily found on the events list of the Cathedral website.

Look out for the tomb of the medieval Boy Bishop who died in office – it’s in the nave near William Longspee’s tomb.

Other Boy Bishop ceremonies exist in the UK, notably the one at Hereford (see separate article for details) but the Salisbury custom is a very well established one. All are welcome.

Click here for the Cathedral website : http://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/index.php

Photo by LawrenceOP.


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