London Bridge: Blessing the river

This Sunday 8 January sees some seasonal and unusual activity in and around London Bridge.

Southwark Cathedral and St Magnus are the two churches at each end of London Bridge.

Indeed Old London Bridge ran past the St Magnus church door.

The clergy and congregations of the two churches, whose parish boundaries meet on London Bridge, will process to the centre for a the blessing of the Thames ceremony.

The Baptism Sunday ceremony is timed for 12.30pm..

This Thames tradition follows the Orthodox custom of hurling a cross into water as a symbol of Christ’s baptism which is celebrated on the Sunday after the Epiphany in such countries as Greece, Russia and Romania.

In London a wooden cross is dropped from the bridge. As the tide will be falling it is expected that the cross will at first be swept downstream.

A little later at 1.45pm  the Holly Man, the winter guise of the Green Man, will land on Bankside outside Shakespeare’s Globe.  This is part of Twelfth Night celebrations (two days late) which includes a Mummers play on the Thames Path.

Meanwhile Southwark Cathedral offers a rare sight inside: the recast bells are on the ground in the centre of the nave awaiting ‘dressing’, blessing, hoisting and installation in the tower.


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