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Villagers at Mendlesham join worshippers across county to mark Plough Sunday

PUBLISHED: 09:07 08 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:44 08 January 2018

The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, who blessed a plough at Saint Mary's Church, Mendlesham, pictured with Father Philip Gray, vicar of Mendlesham, and East Suffolk Morris Men. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, who blessed a plough at Saint Mary's Church, Mendlesham, pictured with Father Philip Gray, vicar of Mendlesham, and East Suffolk Morris Men. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

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A Bishop joined more than 80 worshippers reliving an ancient countryside tradition, marking the beginning of the year as farmers and agricultural workers return to work in Suffolk after the festivities.

East Suffolk Morris Men carry a plough blessed by The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison Bishop of Dunwich from Saint Mary's Church, Mendlesham, Suffolk, reviving an old tradition which connect us with the earth and it’s fruits in thanksgiving. Picture: KEITH MINDHAMEast Suffolk Morris Men carry a plough blessed by The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison Bishop of Dunwich from Saint Mary's Church, Mendlesham, Suffolk, reviving an old tradition which connect us with the earth and it’s fruits in thanksgiving. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

The Rt Rev Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, was at Mendlesham’s St Mary’s parish church – one of many across the county marking Plough Sunday.

A plough was blessed and then chalk was also blessed and given out to villagers who were asked to write next to their doors the names of the three wise men and the year 2018, an ancient tradition at Epiphany which celebrates the arrival of the wise men at the stable.

Bishop Mike and members of the congregation and villagers went around Mendlesham with the plough, stopping at the village sign to pray for the community.

They then enjoyed hospitality at the King’s Head pub before returning to the parish church for a bring and share lunch.

The plough being carried from the church. Picture: KEITH MINDHAMThe plough being carried from the church. Picture: KEITH MINDHAM

A group of Morris Dancers joined in the celebrations, providing a colourful and vibrant background.

Bishop Mike said: ‘‘The revival of some of the older traditions which connect us with the earth and it’s fruits in thanksgiving is important in itself, and the procession and chalk markings on the doors are both gentle ways in which Christians locally can show their faith.

‘‘It’s also a good way to conclude Christmas festivities, which otherwise can rather peter out.’’

He added that the markings with the chalk were also useful in starting a conversation about people’s faith.

Plough Sunday is an ancient tradition which, in recent years, has seen a revival in Suffolk and other celebrations on Sunday included a service at St Edmundsbury Cathedral where a working tractor and plough was brought along from the Euston Estate.

John Howard, spokesman for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said the celebrations are an important reminder that Suffolk is a rural county in which agriculture plays an important role.

He said: “In days when work was scarce in winter, the observance of Plough Sunday looked forward to the time of sowing with the promise of a harvest to come.”

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