Where did Easter Gardens come from ?

OrdoOrdo Shipmate Posts: 7
One of the delights (not this year) at this time is/was/would be visiting Anglican churches to see and pray at the Easter Garden. I don't know how often they are found in other parts of the anglophone world, but they are found in many Anglican parishes in England - not in the "extreme" High or the Extreme Low or modern, but usually in the ordinary,simple old style Middle Church places. Usually decorated with flowers and moss and with old figures - usually having been made by Mowbrays or Wantage Convent in the 1920s/30s/40s. [NOT the gaudy modern figures made in Italy and sometimes found under the Forward Altar in modern Roman Catholic churches] Of course, there is the unrelated, Easter Sepulchre, the remains of which can frequently be seen on the North side of many old churches. That's quite different and is part of the Watch before Easter and the consecration of a third Host.
Does anyone have any information about when and where they started ? I have often tried (unsuccessfully) to find out. I would be grateful for any information.

Comments

  • One suggestion is that the first one recorded was in 1939 in St Michael's Church, Harbledown, Kent: https://traditionalcustomsandceremonies.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/custom-transcribed-the-easter-garden/
  • Here's another interesting (if rather lengthy) article about the Easter Garden and its origins:
    fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/easter%20customs%20full%20page.htm

    Our Place (which is 'extremely High') has always had an Easter Garden, mostly with lots of flowers, and angels borrowed from the crib set, but not, of course, this year.
    :disappointed:

    It is blessed on Easter Sunday morning, and a brief Station is held during the entrance hymn on subsequent Sundays.
  • Here's another interesting (if rather lengthy) article about the Easter Garden and its origins:
    fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/easter%20customs%20full%20page.htm

    That article seems to be about the Easter Sepulchre rather than about the Easter Garden.
  • OrdoOrdo Shipmate Posts: 7
    Thanks so much.There seems to be very little written about them,although, quite an important feature of many churches. There was/is a famous one designed by Constance Spry for St Paul's Cathedral and it was always blessed by the Bishop on Easter Eve at Evensong. I am sure that the late Peter F.Anson would have known something about them.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    I think if you scroll down it tells about the Easter Garden.
  • Yes, it does. Sorry @Ex_Organist , I should have made that clear.
  • Thanks. Sorry I missed bit on the Easter Garden, but it still seems very vague on the connection (if any) between the pre-reformation Easter Sepulchre and the current Easter Garden.
  • Well, yes.

    Perhaps the present-day Easter Garden is something of a vague simulacrum (O joy! I've been wanting to use that word all week!) of the pre-Reformation Easter Sepulchre ceremonies.

    It did take quite a few lustra for some of the old Holy Week and Easter ceremonies to emerge from the dustbin of history (at least in the C of E, dominated for so long by Cranmer's sombre, dour, services), but the last generation or two have, thankfully, seen something of a revival.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited April 16
    Ordo wrote: »
    One of the delights (not this year) at this time is/was/would be visiting Anglican churches to see and pray at the Easter Garden. I don't know how often they are found in other parts of the anglophone world . . . .
    FWIW, I’m in the US, and I’d never heard of Easter Gardens until reading about them on the Ship. I had to ask what they are.

  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    edited April 16
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Ordo wrote: »
    One of the delights (not this year) at this time is/was/would be visiting Anglican churches to see and pray at the Easter Garden. I don't know how often they are found in other parts of the anglophone world . . . .
    FWIW, I’m in the US, and I’d never heard of Easter Gardens until reading about them on the Ship. I had to ask what they are.

    I wonder if they're related at all (possibly not) to the grotto-like sepulchre often in a side chapel in what are often called the "Polish cathedrals" (cathedral being just a big church) here in Chicago? In Holy Week a life-size figure of Our Lord lies there, and during the blessing of food baskets on Holy Saturday morning (done by the parish priests wielding giant brushes full of holy water), some people make a point of stopping at the sepulchre for a selfie with Him. He of course lies there no more at the time of the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Masses.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Oblatus wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Ordo wrote: »
    One of the delights (not this year) at this time is/was/would be visiting Anglican churches to see and pray at the Easter Garden. I don't know how often they are found in other parts of the anglophone world . . . .
    FWIW, I’m in the US, and I’d never heard of Easter Gardens until reading about them on the Ship. I had to ask what they are.

    I wonder if they're related at all (possibly not) to the grotto-like sepulchre often in a side chapel in what are often called the "Polish cathedrals" (cathedral being just a big church) here in Chicago? In Holy Week a life-size figure of Our Lord lies there, and during the blessing of food baskets, some people make a point of stopping at the sepulchre for a selfie with Him. He of course lies there no more at the time of the Easter Vigil or Easter Sunday Masses.
    Wouldn’t that be more akin to the Easter Sepulchre than the Easter Garden?

    And I’m fascinated at the idea of selfies with the entombed Lord.

  • OrdoOrdo Shipmate Posts: 7
    I think that they are more an attempt to have an Easter equivalent of a crib, a good visual aid, especially for children. I like the old plaster figures that are still used in some places. They just have an old fashioned "period" flavour, a bit like the Margaret Tarrant and Cecily Mary Barker prints and little low tables that you see in the old time Children's Corners at the back of some churches. A far cry from Messy Church.
  • ForthviewForthview Shipmate
    The Easter Sepulchre is nowadays somewhat 'vieux jeu' as far as Easter customs are concerned in the RC church. Indeed we have for over 1000 years the custom of burying the Cross and the Host on Good Friday ,roughly 40 hours from Friday afternoon till early Sunday morning. In Counter-Reformation Catholicism in Central Europe the Jesuits encouraged the placing of a Host in a sort of monstrance like Cross to serve as a centre of devotion in the Holy Sepulchre. Early on the morning of Easter Sunday the Host would be returned with a solemn procession to the main tabernacle. This is still quite a common custom in Poland with a very early Mass and Procession on Easter Sunday morning.
    Since the changes in the holy Week liturgy in the 1950s (even before the Second Vatican Council) the Altar of Repose should not have the appearance of a Sepulchre. The Host should not be kept in a box which reminds one of a funeral urn and the adoration of the Host should stop at midnight on Maundy Thursday.

    Needless to say not all Catholic dioceses follow these directives. Where there are long established and popular customs these are still followed in a number of countries in Central Europe.
  • AmosAmos Shipmate
    Ordo wrote: »
    I think that they are more an attempt to have an Easter equivalent of a crib, a good visual aid, especially for children. I like the old plaster figures that are still used in some places. They just have an old fashioned "period" flavour, a bit like the Margaret Tarrant and Cecily Mary Barker prints and little low tables that you see in the old time Children's Corners at the back of some churches. A far cry from Messy Church.

    This seems right to me. I inherited the custom of an Easter Garden in the church porch when I came to this benefice. As the porch is big, so is the garden--a table-top size tableau of small plants, some flowering, some not, roads, Golgotha with the 3 crosses, and a tomb, with the stone rolled across the opening, and rolled away before the Easter Sunday eucharist. The children help me to assemble it while the Flower Ladies are decorating inside the church, and we talk about the story while we do it. It's populated by little wooden figures--soldiers, women, angels, apostles, and the Risen Christ. This year, we sent out illustrated instructions for making an Easter Garden at home, and asked those who did to send photos to us.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Ordo wrote: »
    One of the delights (not this year) at this time is/was/would be visiting Anglican churches to see and pray at the Easter Garden. I don't know how often they are found in other parts of the anglophone world . . . .
    FWIW, I’m in the US, and I’d never heard of Easter Gardens until reading about them on the Ship. I had to ask what they are.

    Likewise, in the Antipodes. I find them a bit twee to be honest ... but work on the principle that there's no theological objection to them so whatever floats your boat.
  • ... the C of E, dominated for so long by Cranmer's sombre, dour, services ...
    Hang on - I thought that Cranmer's matchless prose was supposed to be the glory of the CofE.

  • ... the C of E, dominated for so long by Cranmer's sombre, dour, services ...
    Hang on - I thought that Cranmer's matchless prose was supposed to be the glory of the CofE.

    Gloriously sombre and dour.
  • Matchlessly so...
  • "Cranmer's sombre, dour, services". You mean the ones that are bursting with so much joy that even his wonderful prose cannot contain it?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    First I've heard of it.
  • Hehe.

    My tongue was in my cheek - just slightly...but it's no less a writer than Eamonn Duffy who refers to 'Cranmer's sombre prose' (in The Stripping of the Altars).

    I added the 'dour' bit.
  • Oh, he can do sombre. But that's not all he does.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Oddly most of my hours of tedium in Holy Week have been on occasions when someone thought they knew better than Cranmer. However, I am not opposed to spicing Cranmer up a bit - for example, adding the Reproaches to the end of Litany and Ante-Communion on Good Friday.
  • AmosAmos Shipmate
    Twee, Zappa? I wish you'd been there the year we had a real skull at the foot of the cross.
  • PDR wrote: »
    Oddly most of my hours of tedium in Holy Week have been on occasions when someone thought they knew better than Cranmer. However, I am not opposed to spicing Cranmer up a bit - for example, adding the Reproaches to the end of Litany and Ante-Communion on Good Friday.

    I always felt that Holy Week was Cranmer at his least satisfactory. More broadly, I think one could say that Cranmer's liturgy is essentially ferial rather than festal. Its power and its limitations (and it has plenty of both) both come from prioritizing stability, constancy, and repetition. If you're doing Cranmer strictly by the book, there's remarkably little difference between Evensong on Good Friday and on Christmas Day. Of course, for the past 150 years at least, almost everybody would spice it up with hymns and/or anthems outside the service (or within it, which is technically not allowed, but the number of people who care is vanishingly small).

    I am one of many who find Cranmer's prose to be "comfortable words" indeed. But I wouldn't want to live on a purely Cranmerian diet all the time. Especially not if it was unending said services with no music.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    18th century BCP use often spiced it up with metrical psalms and anthems, as both have been authorized under the injunctions right from the start (1559/60). Like all liturgies there has always been a certain amount of unwritten tradition surrounding it, and a large part of that has always been the musical customs. I am OK with straight BCP provided there is decent musical provision.

    When I lived in England my BCP use has a 'Dearmerish' streak to it in that I do a little supplementation, and quite a few rubrics got bent in the direction of the BCP that did not happen (1928). Our little congregation was quite happy with that, though I would not be surprised if others found it a little demanding on their patience.

    Living in the US for the last 20 years, we have largely used the American 1928, which is inferior to the 1662 with regards to the Daily Offices thanks to some Latitudinarian editing back in 1789, but in some respects the Communion service is an improvement. What is a major improvement are the rubrics, which are far more flexible, and give someone who has a modicum of liturgical knowledge the opportunity to improve the amount of seasonal light and shade in the service of the church without driving a truck through the directions.
  • Spiced up Cranmer? Is that the Adults Only book?
  • Spiced up Cranmer? Is that the Adults Only book?

    Well, the Scottish and American prayer books do contain an epiclesis often described as "explicit". :neutral:
  • Obtainable (in a plain brown-paper cover) from beneath the counter of your local Christian Bookshop...
    :naughty:
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Amos wrote: »
    Twee, Zappa? I wish you'd been there the year we had a real skull at the foot of the cross.

    Ah ... reality liturgy. There could [sic] be more of it.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Obtainable (in a plain brown-paper cover) from beneath the counter of your local Christian Bookshop...
    :naughty:

    Actually most the spice was to be found in the liturgical section of the (old) English Hymnal
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Zappa wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Ordo wrote: »
    One of the delights (not this year) at this time is/was/would be visiting Anglican churches to see and pray at the Easter Garden. I don't know how often they are found in other parts of the anglophone world . . . .
    FWIW, I’m in the US, and I’d never heard of Easter Gardens until reading about them on the Ship. I had to ask what they are.

    Likewise, in the Antipodes. I find them a bit twee to be honest ... but work on the principle that there's no theological objection to them so whatever floats your boat.

    A vague recollection about one being mentioned in a novel or memoir. I've never seen one in real life. But you could always make one in the southernmost church under your care. I'll bet that within a couple of years, it will be widely known as having been planted by one of the earliest European settlers 150 years ago.
  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    edited April 21
    I first saw one in the church of St Mary and St Eanswyth at Folkestone, when led there by the school I was at. In my memory it filled an entire chapel on the north side of the church, and looked unreal and magical. (We didn't do that sort of thing in the Congregationalists!) It entered my mind along with other brief sightings like the Brighton Pavilion and the nearby rainbow lit fountain. Its spiritual meaning escaped me - we didn't look at it long enough. It must have been around 1954.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    I'm not sure if it was Darwin or the brutalist cathedral where I first encountered it. I won't be introducing the idea anywhere. :expressionless:
  • Re the OP, we're all wondering who made the Easter Garden that fills the church's north porch.
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited April 23
    How odd! Is there nobody willing to own up to such an Act of Faith?
    :confused:

    Ah - maybe there were 2 or 3 people involved, not practising Social Distancing, and therefore they're not wanting to be hauled off to Jug by the Plague Police?
    :wink:
  • Jengie JonJengie Jon Shipmate
    In our case I suspect that if an Easter Garden would have been done it would have been done by a couple from the same Household as their exercise for the day.
  • I suspect the family of the person who used to be C-in-C of the flower guild. She and her extended family live in a rambling pile which they bought and restored some years ago, so they count as one household, all 15 of them.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    As making them is often an educational activity, I'd suspect it was a family that made it. Does the 15 include small children?
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited April 24
    Obtainable (in a plain brown-paper cover) from beneath the counter of your local Christian Bookshop...
    :naughty:
    Sadly rarely possible as so many Christian bookshops have closed after the customers' cry of, "But I can get it cheaper on the Internet". Go to, Am*z*n.

  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited April 24
    Yes, well, that probably shows how long it's been since I was last in a Christian bookshop...

    We used to have one near the main shopping centre, but I think it did indeed close down some time ago.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    edited April 24
    What you need is this independent shop.

    Resurrected from the ashes of the SPCK debacle by a theology student who worked there part-time. I hear his degree (and vocation to the ministry) have been "on hold" ever since, but they've been going for 10 years.

    Anyway, they do mailorder... :smile:
  • Enoch wrote: »
    As making them is often an educational activity, I'd suspect it was a family that made it. Does the 15 include small children?

    Yes. Family comprise Grandparents, 3 siblings and the partners of two of them, plus 8 grandchildren.
  • Well, if it was they who did the deed, it was a Jolly Good Wheeze!
    :smiley:
    What you need is this independent shop.

    Resurrected from the ashes of the SPCK debacle by a theology student who worked there part-time. I hear his degree (and vocation to the ministry) have been "on hold" ever since, but they've been going for 10 years.

    Anyway, they do mailorder... :smile:

    Thanks! I used to visit the bookshop(s) near Westminster Cathedral from time to time, but not for some years now.

  • TwoRavensTwoRavens Shipmate Posts: 7
    I've never seen an Easter Garden here in the States, but we do have perhaps its offspring in some Episcopal churches throughout the southern states: the 'Flowering of the Cross' and no, I'm not making this up. The parish provides a large-ish wooden cross with holes all over it, and the 'children' on Easter morning bring handfuls of flowers to stick in the holes. This is generally done in the porch or garden, and the decorated cross is then taken into the church and displayed in a prominent position. The canon at a cathedral where I worked was asked by a reporter from the local paper 'What is the religious significance of this ceremony?' His reply, 'None whatsoever' was of course printed!
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    That practice isn’t limited to Episcopalians. Our version is a cross wrapped with chicken wire, and everyone—not just kids—brings flowers.
  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    That practice isn’t limited to Episcopalians. Our version is a cross wrapped with chicken wire, and everyone—not just kids—brings flowers.

    I've seen it in the Church of Scotland too, just the once.
  • What you need is this independent shop.
    I have heard and read of bookshop people saying that people come in, browse the shelves, decide what they want ... and then order more cheaply online. I think that, for Christians (who would regard themselves as moral people) that is despicable, as they are basically abusing the service that the bookshop is providing and paying for.

    (True of other retailers, too).

  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    When in parish ministry I used a stark, brutal "Proclamation of the Cross" liturgy (from UK's Lent, Holy Week and Easter book. Though I've never heard the phrase it was always our routine, as psychological and liturgical and spiritual counterbalance, to have children decorate the Cross on Easter morning ... flowers, butterflies, along with other liturgical exuberance ... because Easter Morn is about making whoopee. Joy-filled Mass, balloons, butterflies, bubbles, flowers, chicken and champagne (after!) ... it rocked our churches and transformed worshippers' faith (based on feedback) for two decades.

    I miss it, now I'm in head office. Much Easter liturgy remains as mizz as the preceding forty days and forty nights of solemn ennui. "Christ is Risen". "Yeah, whatever."
  • OblatusOblatus Shipmate
    What you need is this independent shop.
    I have heard and read of bookshop people saying that people come in, browse the shelves, decide what they want ... and then order more cheaply online. I think that, for Christians (who would regard themselves as moral people) that is despicable, as they are basically abusing the service that the bookshop is providing and paying for.

    I've often thought our large Barnes & Noble bookshop chain in the USA has become a showroom for Amazon. Indeed, another local B&N has closed and will become an outpatient medical something-or-other, further bore-ifying that neighborhood.
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