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Carol Service at St Olave Hart Street


14th December 2017

On Thursday 14th December 2017 thirty-seven Members of the Club and their guests attended a carol service at St Olave’s Church in Hart Street, a short walk from Tower Hill Underground Station. The church is the burial place of Samuel Pepys and his wife Elizabeth as well as that of a woman identified in the parish registers as ‘Mother Goose’ who died in 1586. The skulls carved over the gateway to the churchyard caused Charles Dickens to call it in an essay ‘Saint Ghastly Grim’. In the 17th Century the Navy Office was located just across the street and was at one time connected to the gallery of the church by a private bridge so that Pepys could come under cover to attend services. 


The service was held jointly with the Anglo-Norse Society, which is due to celebrate its 100th Anniversary in 2018.


Attendees were admonished to arrive from 6.15 pm in good time before the service itself was to begin at 7.00 pm. On arrival everyone was made very welcome with liberal quantities of mulled wine, tea, coffee, mince pies, and other Christmas delicacies on offer. 


Before the service the Rector, Oliver Ross, gave us an interesting talk about the history of the church and its connection with St. Olave, a Norseman who came to the aid of the Anglo-Saxons in 1014 and repelled an invading Danish fleet in the battle of London Bridge, later going on to become King of Norway before being declared a Saint.


In the service the Rector was assisted by the priest in charge of St. Olave’s Norwegian Church in Rotherhithe, Torbjorn Holt. The service followed the traditional pattern of lessons and carols except that some of the carols were sung, and the lessons were read, in Norwegian. There was also a mix of prayers in English and Norwegian. The organist played the congregation out to a spirited performance of ‘Toccata’ from Charles-Marie Widor’s Symphony No. 5.


From the church it was a short walk to the busy City pub, Windsor Fenchurch, where we enjoyed a three course supper and wine. Thankfully the initially high decibel level subsided in the course of the meal (as commuters caught trains from the adjacent station) and it became easier to converse with one’s neighbours.


All in all it was a rattling good evening.


                                           Chris Eyles

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