CAPTION: Sharon, one of the volunteers at St Gregory's, Seaton, at the church's Coronation Flower Festival

Devon’s Churches Go Red, White and Blue for the Coronation

Posted: 9th May, 2023

Churches were at the heart of Coronation celebrations across Devon, hosting special services, flower festivals, community lunches and cream teas.

Churches have been decorated with flowers, handmade pom poms, flags and drawings from children to celebrate the Coronation

Bellringers were busy ringing special peals on Saturday 6 May and ringing for commemoration services on Sunday 7 May.

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell, was outside the Houses of Parliament to greet King Charles III on his way to Westminster Abbey.

Bishop Robert, who was there as a member of the House of Lords, told BBC Radio Devon afterwards: “It was so memorable and something I shall never forget. It was a privilege and a joy to be there.

“The King said he wants to be of service to our nation, using Jesus’ words, I come not to be served but to serve.

“I shall never forget hearing God Save the King being shouted from inside Westminster Abbey.”

On Sunday, Bishop Robert preached at Coronation services at St Paul’s in Paignton and Exeter Cathedral.

The Bishop of Crediton preached on the theme God Save the King at Crediton Parish Church

The Bishop of Crediton, the Rt. Rev’d Jackie Searle, preached on the theme of God Save the King at a special choral evensong at Crediton Parish Church.

St Mary’s church in Holne, livestreamed the coronation service and invited people from the village to come and watch it together and have a picnic lunch, with some of the food provided by the local pub.

Organiser Tony Parker said “Our aim was to demonstrate what our Parish church of St Mary the Virgin Holne can offer our village community.

“Importantly this means, apart from worship and services, how can our activities support God’s mission? The Coronation, and the availability of our new audio visual technology within the Church, provided a perfect opportunity for us.

“I’m delighted to say, after five hours of live-streaming of the Coronation event and a bring and share lunch, everyone – from villagers to visitors – was very enthusiastic and appreciative of the day and identified possible opportunities for the future.”

Hannah Findley, a church organist, bellringer and singer, said she was busy ringing at St Mary’s church, Bickington on Saturday and Sunday and singing in a pop-up community coronation choir at St Andrew’s church in Ashburton straight afterwards.

Hannah told Radio Devon’s Angela Kalwaites: “Music is something that I enjoy and a form of service that I am happy to give to the church. I find worship through music the most important part of my worship. Music is the biggest thing for me, I really love it.

Some churches livestreamed the Coronation to their local community

At St Mary’s Silverton, said there was a Coronation vigil at the church on the eve of the coronation, plus commemoration services, bellringing and community lunches in all the local villages.

St Michael’s Church, Chagford, was decorated with a canopy of red, white and blue flowers, pom poms and rosettes made by members of the community.

It was one of a number of churches to feature special flower displays and decorations made by groups including schools and cubs and brownies.

On Monday, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Rt. Rev’d James Grier, accompanied the city’s Lord Mayor, to visit groups taking part in the Big Help Out, a day aimed at encouraging people to get volunteering.

Bishop James said “It is fantastic that King Charles III, as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, is beginning his reign promoting community lunches and community action.

The Church is probably the biggest source of volunteers in the country. Many churches can also trace their origins back to Christian roots or founders.

“I hope and pray that Monday’s events will have been a catalyst to more long-lasting community action and support across Devon.”

Read the Bishop of Exeter’s Coronation sermon here.