Archbishop's car at Bradwell's historic church
OK this one's a bit tricky. A year ago my mother and I visited the ancient church of St Peter-on-the-wall at Bradwell on Sea, Essex. All these pictures have laid in my backfile ever since for a number of reasons... some of them legal ones!
While we were there we had an encounter with the Most Reverend Jonathan Blake, presiding archbishop of the Open Episcopal Church. The first mum and I were aware of him was when we got to the car park at St Peter-on-the-wall and saw the Archbishop's bright red "Ghostbusters" car, complete with emergency stripe, stickers and rooftop flashing lights, parked in the car park.
It has 'ON CALL BISHOP' written on the bonnet in reverse lettering so it can be read in a rear view mirror and his website address is on the side:
The website is an interesting read and reveals archbishop Blake is something of a controversial figure. A former CofE curate he dropped out of the CofE and, after a spell in advertising, he returned to religion but via his own church movement. He once conducted a gay wedding on TV's 'Richard and Judy'. As his website reveals, he then sued a national newspaper for libel following their report of the TV programme. I found all this out later of course.
His vehicle seemed very odd and it got odder as we slowly walked up to the chapel. Despite a stiff breeze blowing across the marshes the smell of incense hit us about 30 yards from the door and - peering in through the incense smoke - we could see the archbishop conducting what turned out to be a very long ordination service for another vicar. He had a congregation of four plus a female helper and the said new vicar. The archbishop was dressed in white with a mitre and white gloves to match.
While we hung around waiting for the service to end one of the 'ladies of the church' arrived on her bike from Bradwell to do the bookstall and flowers and I asked her who he was. Her reply was: "I have no idea, he just appears to have just taken over..." The church is a long way from the village and is semi-redundant but cared-for by English Heritage and the local parish as one of the oldest Christian buildings in the UK. It gets used for pilgrimages and occasional ad-hoc services.
The archbishop was happy to pose for photos (I refrained) but I did take a few general shots of the service taking place.
I'd like to say more but I won't - you had to BE there!