Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Forest Chapel Rushbearing, 2019

Posted on by royvickery |

Forest Chapel, formally known as St Stephen’s Church, Macclesfield Forest, stands at the eastern edge of Macclesfield Forest and the community today consists of merely four properties.

One service a month is regularly held in the Chapel, its main service being the Annual Rushbearing Service, held on the first Sunday after 12 August (the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ when Lord Derby comes to nearby Crag Hall for the shooting season).  Lord Derby’s ancestor gave money towards the building of the original church.  In 2019 the event took place on 18 August.

In the late 1940s it was recorded that over 800 people attended the Service, but in 2019 everyone managed to squeeze into the Chapel.  The gate pillars at the entrance to the churchyard, and the church porch were decorated with sheaves of rushes (Juncus sp.) which had yellow chrysanthemum flowers attached to their ties.  The entrance path to the church and the nave were strewn with rushes.  Arrangements of rushes and sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) decorated the church.

At 3 p.m. the Service started with the rather gloomy hymn, ‘Lord, we know that we have failed you.’  The remainder of the Service roughly followed a standard evening service with extra hymns.  After the fourth hymn everyone went out to the churchyard, to hear a sermon given by a visiting clergyman from a nearby parish.  Apparently this move from the church to the churchyard dates back to the time when not everyone could fit into the church.  The Service concluded with another hymn and the blessing, after which people were invited back into the church for tea and home-made biscuits.

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