|We have a good team of volunteers and due regard is given to Child Protection
considerations. At present a small charge (£3.00 per child) is made to cover the cost of the
materials. So far schools have been willing to subsidise this.
For further information or to book a morning for your class please contact a menber
of the Ministry Team
|A Monk's Experience
|A Monk’s Experience at St Mary’s Church Ecclesfield
A half day visit for schools helping children experience some of the life of a Benedictine monk.
Although there has been a church in Ecclesfield since Anglo Saxon times – hence the name –
the present building dates back to the time when responsibility for it lay in the hands of the
Monastery of St Wandrille in Normandy. Following the Norman invasion William de
Lovetot (the Norman Lord of Hallamshire) gave Ecclesfield to the Benedictine Abbey of St
Wandrille, near Rouen in Normandy. The de Lovetots sent back to their home town of St
Wandrille for some monks to come and over see the church. Three were sent here, hence the
Priory behind the church. In many ways the history of England can be told through the
building and indeed it is often visited by local history groups and schools. We felt however,
that it was also important for visitors to gain some insight into the purpose of the building as
a place of prayer and worship.
Please look at our Church History page if you want a more detailed history.
So, after consultation with various folk including the staff of our local Primary School we
started this venture in September 2005 and it has proved to be very successful. The morning
fulfils a number of curriculum objectives for schools as well as our desire to use the building
to help children understand something about the life of prayer and worship. Both staff and
children have enjoyed the experience and talk about it for some time afterwards. Originally
designed for Y5’s most of the classes so far have been Y4’s although last year we had two Y6
classes who enjoyed it just as much.
As the children arrive they are clothed in a black habit. The vows of poverty, obedience and
silence are explained (with some emphasis on the last two!). The day begins with a short
‘Office’ in the choir stalls – this consists of the 23rd Psalm, a reading of the story of the Good
Shepherd and the Lord’s Prayer. The children are then divided into groups and led off to
their ‘work’ by the resident ’monks’.
Work is done in the Scriptorium, the Mason’s Yard, the Choir and according to the weather
in the Herb Garden or at the Glaziers. In the Scriptorium the children learn about
manuscripts, their writing and illumination and then copy out some verses from St Mark’s
gospel and letters are illustrated with ‘Bic Quill’ pens. In the Mason’s Yard they learn about
the gargoyles and make their own out of clay. In the choir they learn about plain song and
practise a chant. Finally, if the weather is dry, they collect herbs and learn about their uses
both in cookery but also in medicine, if it is wet they make some stained glass windows.
|The children have 20 – 25 minutes at each activity with the morning broken part way
through with a ‘monk’s meal’. Here they experience the basic food which would have been
grown at the monastery. Finally they all gather in the choir for another ‘Office’ during which
they sing the chant they have learnt, listen to a short reading from the Rule of St Benedict
(about helping each other in the kitchen!) and finish with the Lord’s Payer.
|Making Clay Gargoyles
|Saying Grace before
the Monks Meal
|Singing the Chant
|Hearing the Rule of