Seeing the Priory in whole new light

Jan Wattleworth, Jean and Frank Fowler, with Rev Matthew Pollard
Jan Wattleworth, Jean and Frank Fowler, with Rev Matthew Pollard

Having been sent ‘on tour’ for the past two months, the congregation of Bridlington Priory got to see the 900-year-old church in a new light at the weekend.

The building was out of bounds while a new lighting system was installed, and all services were held in the nearby church rooms.

Bridlington Priory

Bridlington Priory

But it was back to business as usual at the weekend, and a 24-hour prayer event was held to mark the reopening.

The Rector, the Rev Matthew Pollard said “People think it stunning when they see it for the first time.

“Quite a few have asked whether we’ve had the stone work all cleaned. It seems to have brought the building to life. And it’s possible to appreciate details that you’ve never noticed before.

“It’s amazing to think that in all the 900 years of the Priory’s history no previous generation has seen its full splendour the way we can see it now.”

Inside the Priory during the works

Inside the Priory during the works

On Saturday, more than 25 groups that are part of the Priory’s life provided a prayer station to focus on their activity.

People who visited the church during the 24 hours were welcome to walk round and pray for each of the activities or to attend short services that were held every three hours, the way they would have been when the Priory was a monastery.

These services – which were known as offices – would have been in Latin, but Rev Pollard researched English translations of them and prepared a booklet to be used in the church.

He said “It was a profound and moving experience to get inside and inhabit the Priory’s spiritual heritage and to appreciate the discipline and rigour with which our forebears prayed.”

About a dozen people slept overnight on the floor of the Priory and got up for each of the services. Mr Pollard added: “It seemed like hard work, getting out of your sleeping bag and shuffling into the choir stalls to recite psalms.

“I can’t imagine what it must have been like to do it day after day, year after year with no heating and without even an alarm clock.”

On Sunday morning, worshippers were able to appreciate the new digitally-controlled lighting scheme for the first time.