Monthly Archives: September 2017

  1. The History of Christmas Cards

    The sending of seasonal messages of goodwill is an ancient ritual which also had a practical basis. Isolated villages would send seasonal gifts to their neighbours to maintain good relationships in case they needed to turn to them when supplies ran short. In pagan Britain, good luck charms were exchanged at the winter solstice but it took a long time for the custom to evolve.

     The start of greetings cards as we now know them began in the fourteenth century, with the advent of the wood-block printed New Year’s cards from Germany. Even though the greetings card had German origins, the modern day Christmas card is a quintessentially English invention.

    The origin can be traced to...

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  2. Pilgrimages and the Feast of St Edward

    The present form of the National Pilgrimage to the Shrine of St. Edward, on the Saturday nearest to 13th October, seems to have started in 2008. Westminster Abbey has celebrated the Feast of St. Edward on 13th October for many centuries, with processions to the Shrine allowing people to pray there, but not with the number of other activities that happen now.

    In medieval times pilgrims, maybe more those who were sick who hoped prayers to the Saint would cure them, could get special permission from the monks to visit the physical Shrine to pray. The area called in recent years “The Shrine” is actually properly the Chapel of St Edward the Confessor with the Shrine being the tomb containing his bones. The monks would have...

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  3. Book of the Month - Edward the Confessor: King of England

    Our book of the month for October is Edward the Confessor: King of England, in honour of the Feast of St Edward which takes place this month. St Edward is an important figure in the history of Westminster Abbey as he was one of the patron saints attached to the Abbey.

    Edward the Confessor: King of England

    Edward was born at Islip in Oxfordshire between 1002 and 1005, the son of King Ethelred ‘the Unready’ and Emma. Edward was driven from England in 1013 by the Danes and spent his exile in Normandy. He returned...

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  4. Book of the Month - The Moral Heart of Public Service

    Our book of the month for September is The Moral Heart of Public Service which has been edited by the Director of the Westminster Abbey Institute, Claire Foster-Gilbert. The book is a collection of essays debating the ethical challenges facing those working in politics, public service and religion and exploring the urgency and practicalities of keeping the moral heart of public service alive. 

    The Westminster Abbey Institute was established in 2013 to nurture and revitalise moral and spiritual values in public life, inspire the vocation to public service in those working in Westminster and Whitehall,...

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  5. A Westminster Abbey Christmas with Amanda Loverseed

    Our beautiful Christmas card design for this year is based on a watercolour picture painted by illustrator Amanda Loverseed. This delightful painting includes traditional festive activities like carol singing and wreath selling, alongside classic London icons like the Routemaster bus and the Queen's guards. 

    Westminster Abbey Christmas Card

    Amanda started her career as a professional illustrator after leaving Cambridge College of Arts in 1989. She developed a “passion for telling a story within a picture, using quirky detail” and has had a successful career writing and illustrating children’s books and creating artwork for a wide...

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  6. Mapping out London with Clair Rossiter

    Our latest new range is ‘Westminster Abbey London Map' which is based on a specially commissioned painting by Clair Rossiter. Capturing the highlights of London in map format, the painting features Westminster Abbey alongside other well-known buildings and classic London icons like the black taxi and red phone box.

    Clair Rossiter London Map

    We were lucky enough to speak to Clair about her work as an illustrator, and how she felt about working on this project:

    What is your background as an artist?

    I’ve always loved drawing and making, and have spent most of my life dreaming about the day when I could...

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  7. International Literacy Day

    September 8th was announced as International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17th, 1965. The aim of the day is to celebrate literacy worldwide, and to highlight the importance of literacy to both individuals and societies. As part of this celebration there is also a focus on adult learning, to ensure that even those who have left education have the opportunity to be literate. 

    International Literacy Day

    Literacy was traditionally thought of as the ability to read and write but in the modern world the meaning of the word has expanded to include the use of technology and numbers. It now encompasses the skills we need to engage in this new...

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