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Festival celebrates role of women in the church
8:50am Sunday 13th October 2013 in News
NOTED for standing naked in the River Test in the dead of night chanting psalms, the nun Ethelflaeda was one of the founders of the Benedictine Convent which went on to become Romsey Abbey and she was its second abbess in the mid-900s.
To celebrate her life and the contribution Ethelflaeda and other women have made to the Church, a fifth festival in her honour is being held at Romsey Abbey.
Romsey’s vicar, the Revd Tim Sledge, is behind the event which runs from Thursday October 17 to Sunday October 20.
The festival starts with A tapestry of Song directed by Marion Maxey at 6pm on Thursday. This concert will include more than 100 children and young people from school choirs in the Romsey area and there will be a number of pieces of music from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
On Friday at 7.30pm the renowned novelist Sara Maitland will deliver the Ethelflaeda Lecture, entitled Did Women have a Choice? Freedom, marriage and religion in Medieval Europe.
The festival’s Saturday offerings includes a full peal of Romsey Abbey bells between 9am and 1pm and between 11am and 12.30 there is a tribute to Romsey Abbey historian, the late Judy Walker, called In Praise of Romsey Abbey. This will mark the launch of the revised edition of her book on the history of the Norman building. Editor of the Abbey’s Open Door magazine Liz Hallett will explore the history of the parish church, through drawings, pictures and photography.
Celebrations continue at 5.30pm with Choral Evensong for the Eve of the Feast of St Ethelflaeda sung by the joint girls’ choirs of Romsey Abbey and Christchurch Priory and the day concludes with the Ethelflaeda Concert at 7.30pm. This will include music by Bach and Brahms, together with songs and sonatas by Rebecca Clarke, Elizabeth Maconchy and Clara Schumann.
The final day of events starts with a Eucharist at 9am. Between 12noon and 12.30pm artist Alex Hoare will be talking about her work and women in the creative art world in a presentation called Through a Dark Glass — a Triptych in kiln-formed glass.
Concluding the Festival will be a Choral Evensong and Procession. TV presenter Debbie Thrower will be preaching at the service which will also include music sung by the choirs of Romsey Abbey and Christchurch Priory and stories entitled the Legends of Ethelflaeda.
Mr Sledge said: “This weekend is a way of highlighting the rich creativity of women in the Church and in the arts, and how Romsey Abbey has for 1,000 years been, and will continue to be at the forefront of music, the arts and Christian thought.”
Festival brochures are available at the Abbey or from Romsey Tourist Information Centre.
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