Rush Sunday 1910
A set of photos from the 1910 Rush Sunday service.

The Rush Sunday Civic Service was first introduced by William Canynge, who was Mayor of Bristol five times. He was one of the richest merchants in Bristol in the 15th century and after he completed the restoration of the church he gave up all his worldly possessions to become a priest. He was ordained in 1468 and sang his first mass at St Mary Redcliffe Church on Whitsunday that year.

It was 25 years later that William Spenser, Mayor of Bristol, instituted the service to commemorate William Canynge, and until the Reformation it was three sermons on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday following Whitsunday. The service takes its name from the rushes and herbs that are strewn on the floor.

The service is now held on Whitsunday. It’s the most colourful Bristol procession with the City Swordbearer carrying the Pearl Sword wearing his Elizabethan Cap of Maintenance. The Lord Mayor, Lady Mayoress, and City Councillors wear their scarlet robes and carry posies of spring flowers (originally these were nosegays of herbs for protection against infection). The eight City Maces are carried by an escort of Police Macebearers under command of a Sergeant at Mace.

Rushes are strewn in the aisles of the church, which was described by Queen Elizabeth I as, "the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in the kingdom" in the medieval fashion.

The Lord Mayor travels from the Mansion House to the church in the Landau carriage with a mounted police escort. He joins the Civic Procession from the Undercroft (which is on the lower floor of the church) via Pump Lane and Colston Parade to the West Door. The arrival of the Lord Mayor is greeted with a fanfare from the City Trumpeters.
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