St Alfege Millennium Festival April 19-22

Our celebrations began at 12 noon on Thursday in Southwark Cathedral. After a warm welcome from the Dean, Andrew Nunn, over 300 people worshipped together, led by the Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, before setting off on pilgrimage to Greenwich, either on foot, on bicycle or, accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, on a specially chartered Thames Clipper.

Disembarking in Greenwich, the Archbishop was greeted by the Mayor and local dignitaries and his party was led by pupils to St Alfege with St Peter's CofE Primary School for a special display. He was taken to the school first where he addressed the pupils. The Archbishop was then led in procession to St Alfege Church by children carrying papier maché replicas of Viking long boats.


The living history organisation, Regia Anglorum, set up an encampment on the green behind the church to give a flavour of the way we lived 1,000 years ago when St Alfege was killed here on the site of the church. A replica longboat was set up of the sort that would have brought St Alfege to Greenwich as a hostage of the Danes.

At 4.30pm the church opened its door to around 600 people to join in a Pilgrimage Service and Eucharist for St Alfege - on the site of his martyrdom and the thousandth anniversary of his death - with the Archbishop of Canterbury as President and Preacher, the Bishop of Bergen and other representatives of Scandinavian churches.

Throughout the Millennium weekend, Regia Anglorum continued to inform and entertain Greenwich visitors with a recreation of an Anglo Saxon village including a replica Viking boat and hands-on activities for all ages. There were demonstrations of weaving and other crafts and examples of coin minting.

On the Sunday morning at 8.10am the BBC Radio 4 morning service was broadcast live from St Alfege. The Vicar, Revd Chris Moody, led the service with the Archdeacon of Lewisham and Woolwich, the Venerable Christine Hardman.

Our second Sunday service at 12 noon was led by the Bishop of Southwark, The Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, when we welcomed 250 people to the Parish Patronal Eucharist for St Alfege. During the service, members of Regia Anglorum led the Sunday School in an Anglo Saxon living history tour in the church hall.

We concluded our Millennium Festival with more activities in St Alfege Park and a picnic on the church green. The celebrations ended at tea time with a hymn and the laying of candles at the saint's plaque by the adults and children who had taken part in a cycle pilgrimage, Canterbury to Greenwich, starting out on Friday.

All images by Fergus Burnett:

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