Posts Tagged ‘Westminster Abbey’

Good Friday 2010 in London

Saturday, April 2nd, 2022

Good Friday 2010 in London – This year Easter Day is celebrated on April 17th by Western Christianity, though as usual a week later by Eastern churches. But it is a ‘moveable feast’ and is on the first Sunday after the first ‘ecclesiastical full moon’ (don’t ask) on or following 21st March, which means it will always be somewhere between March 22nd and April 25th. In 2010, Easter Day was April 4th, so April 2nd 2010 was Good Friday. I photographed two public events for it in London.

Good Friday 2010 in London
Jesus’s body taken down from the cross in Trafalgar Square

Crucifixion on Victoria St, Westminster

Good Friday 2010 in London

I photographed ‘The Crucifixion on Victoria Street’ on Good Friday for a number of years, though decided to stop doing so more recently, largely because of how I felt the behaviour of other photographers. When I first photographed the event there were relatively few of us taking pictures and we did so with some discretion, respecting the religious nature of the event. But over the years the number of photographers has increased greatly and it became more of a media circus, with a few really interfering with the proper nature of the event.

The event brings together clergy and congregations from a number of churches on and around Victoria Street, which includes the Westminster Abbey, the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathredral and Methodist Central Hall as well as other churches, church schools and projects in the area. They process along Victoria Street behind a man carrying a large wooden cross – in 2010 carried by men from the Passage, a project for homeless people close the the Cathedral – and stop for short services in front of the three main churches.

The main service was outside the entrance to Westminster Cathedral where there were hymns, bible readings, a meditation, prayers and a reflection on peace to honour the innocent victims of our times by The Most Reverend Vincent Nicholls, the third Archbishop of Westminster I’ve photographed on these steps.

I left the procession as it made its way towards Westminster Abbey where there was to be a final service.

Crucifixion on Victoria St


The Passion of Jesus, Trafalgar Square

This was the first Passion Play to be performed in the square since 1965, and was a highly professional performance by a group based on the Wintershall estate near Godalming that have been putting on similar but larger and longer ‘Life of Christ’ plays there for a number of years.

Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss

The play related key events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, folowing the stories in the four gospels with both narration and the voices of the main characters coming to the crowd over loudspeakers around the square. It was a colourful and at times exciting rendition of what was for some of us a familiar story, but for some present was novel.

Photographing the live performance had to be from the sidelines, but I was able to do so fairly well, though mainly from longer distances than I like to work from. It was an interesting presentation of a difficult story to stage.

The pictures on My London Diary show the story in sequence and I think capture all the key moments.

The Passion of Jesus


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Christmas Is Coming – 2014

Monday, December 6th, 2021

Three of the four posts I made on December 6th 2014 had a Christmas theme, with two of them around the then annual Santacon event in London. In 2014, around a thousand Santas were gathering on Clapham Common and more at two other locations in East and North London, along with the odd elf, reindeer to start to a day-long alcohol-fuelled crawl through London, eventually meeting up somehere in the centre of the city in the early evening.

I followed them for a short distance, but I’d actually come to Clapham for an entirely different event, the South London March for Free Education, part of a national day of education activism against tuition fees, where students and supporters including Lambeth Left Unity and South London Defend Education were meeting to march to a rally in Brixton.

It was a rather smaller march than anticipated – perhaps many students were in Santa costumes on another event, or busy with Christmas shopping but I marched around a mile with them taking pictures before getting the tube into Central London.

The Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest! in the area between Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall was organised and performed by Christian Climate Action and Occupy London, and was an entertaining if rather amateur performance starring Westley Ingram who wrote the play and performed as the Angel Gabriel, and George Barda of Occupy who played Joseph with his child as the baby Jesus. It was part of a continuing campaign to get churches to disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

From Westminster I set off in a bus towards north London in search of Santas, jumping off when I saw a red cloud of them in the distance. Or rather ringing the bell and fortunately it was not far from a stop where the driver would open a door. I don’t at all mind wearing a mask for Covid, but still feel something of a loss of freedom over the loss of open-door hop-on, hop-off buses.

Thousands in Santa suits and other Xmas deviations, police trying hard to keep smiling, cans of beer, doubtfully soft drinks, just a few Brussel sprouts in the air, crowded bars, sprawling mass of mainly young people having fun on the streets of London. Santacon!

I’d met a couple of photographer friends also out photographing the Santas and they packed up and left as the light fell, while I continued working with flash for another quarter of hour or so, until a phone call alerted me to a pint awaiting me in a local pub. I’d been photographing people drinking for hours but all that had passed my lips to that point was water, and I was ready to break that particular fast with a little Christmas celebration.

Santacon North London
Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest!
South London March for Free Education
Santacon Start in Clapham

Occupy London, The Lord Mayor’s Show & More

Friday, November 12th, 2021

Ten years ago was a very busy day for me in London. Saturday 12th November was the day of the annual Lord Mayor’s Show, which I’d photographed occasionally in previous years, but probably would not have bothered with, but it was made far more interesting this year by the presence of the Occupy London camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral.

I went up quite early to photograph the camp where later in the day Occupy LSX were to hold there own alternative ‘Not the Lord Mayors Show’ festival of entertainment, and wandered around talking to people and taking a few pictures.

I also went to take photographs of some of those preparing to take part in the Lord Mayor’s Show, and then took pictures as the parade began. As I commented, “I found the marching servicemen, military vehicles and weapons and military bands that are a major element of it disturbing. Of course the event as a whole reflects earlier times, with the city aldermen and liverymen in quaint costumes, but it would be appropriate for it to present a rather more civilised face to the world.

As in other years, the Lord Mayor’s coach stopped at St Pauls for him to be blessed by the Canon in Residence Rt Revd Michael Colclough. Occupy LSX asked the cathedral staff if the Canon would bless them too, and though the staff were very doubtful, the Canon came to talk with the people from Occupy and then blessed them too.

Entry to St Pauls, other than to take part in services usually involved paying a fee – back in 2011 it was £14.50 – but is free on the day of the Lord Mayor’s Show, and I took the opportunity to go in and up to the ‘Stone Gallery’ around the base of the dome (the higher ‘Golden Gallery’ was closed because of the crowds) and take some pictures there.

I took the District Line to Westminster for an advertised protest against Ethiopia’s war against Somalia, only to find there were only three men and a small boy at the advertised starting time, though they had a number of placards against what they describe as genocide and ‘Obama’s Proxy War’. They assured me more people would arrive and that the protest would continue for five or six hours, but when I came back again two house later there was no sign of it.

I returned to the City, where some protesters were setting off from the OccupyLSX camp at St Paul’s Cathedral for a ‘tour of shame’, visiting the offices of 3 arms dealers, Qinetiq, BAE and Rolls Royce, who went with David Cameron to Egypt in February to sell arms to the Egyptian army. This was a part of the International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution which had toppled the Mubarek regime, but the army had taken charge and there had been more than 12,000 trials in military courts, without the ability to call witnesses or access to lawyers in a programme of repression against the people. They called on the UK government to end support for the Egyptian military and stop selling them arms which might be used in further massacres such as that in Maspero a month earlier when soldiers opened fire killing 27 Coptic Christians and injuring over 300.

I left the marchers at Ludgate Circus and walked back to see what was happening with Occupy SLX at St Paul’s, then took the District Line again to Westminster to see if the Somali protest had grown. There was no sign of it, but I found another protest just leaving Old Palace Yard for a rally outside Westminster Abbey. This was the ‘500 Crosses for Life’ prayer procession, organised by EuroProLife UK, a “European ecumenical initiative” based in Germany with the full title “European Voice of the Unborn Children: Protect Our Life”, and there were several hundred people carrying white crosses.

They had walked from Westminster Cathedral to a rally here and a speaker at the rally was describing and applauding protests outside clinics in Germany where abortions take place. I found this disturbing – and commented on My London Diary “People have a right to their views on abortion, and to hold peaceful protests such as this and of course to pray about the matter. But isn’t harassing women who go to clinics at what is almost certainly for them a very stressful time morally offensive, a demonstration of an un-Christian lack of love as well as a statement of lack of faith in the power of prayer?”

More on all these at:
Anti-Abortion Prayer Protest
Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution
Somalis Protest Obama’s War
London From St Paul’s
Lord Mayor’s Show
Lord Mayor’s Show – Occupy London


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF

Monday, June 28th, 2021

Broad Sanctuary, Westminster Abbey. 28th June 2014

The Independent Living Fund, ILF, was introduced in 1988 to provide financial support to disabled people with high support needs, including those with severe learning difficulties, cerebral palsy, and a variety of other conditions.

Around 18,000 people relied on the ILF, mainly using the average of £300 a week it provided to employ personal assistants or carers to enable them to live independently, enabling some to work and pursue careers. It was administered independently from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who provided the funding.

The ILF scheme was closed to new applicants in 2010 and the responsibility for providing support in England was passed to local authorities with the ILF ending on 30th June 2015.

There were various problems with the ILF, with regional variations, but the primary reason behind the changes was probably to cut costs. Although the government promised to provide funding to the local authorities for a transitional period, this was around 13% less than under the ILF, and the money, given to cash-strapped authorities already subject to swingeing cuts was not ring-fenced, and so likely to be appropriated for other purposes.

Local authorities were also not given any clear instructions or advice on how to proceed and there were great variations between local authorities in the support that was provided. A survey a year after the end of the scheme showed extreme differences, with some authorities providing similar levels of support to the ILF, but others operating at much reduced levels, creating the real hardship that protests such as this on Saturday 28th June 2014 campaigned against. The loss of ILF was indeed a disaster for many disabled people.

DPAC and others involved in the protest had managed to keep the details hidden from the police, perhaps because it is more difficult for able-bodied police working as undercover officers to infiltrate disabled groups. UK Uncut has provided a diversion with a protest outside Boots on Victoria St when DPAC and Occupy London supporters moved on to the green area in front of Westminster Abbey.

The protesters had hoped for some support from Westminster Abbey authorities as many Christians had called the government’s actions immoral. But they had picked the wrong place, and the Dean of Westminster refused even to talk to the protesters, calling on the police to get rid of them. Labour MP John McDonnell tried without success to phone the Dean who refused to take his call or to phone back.

The weather too was against the protesters, with rain falling steadily, and for once a police officer showed some quick thinking, moving to stand in the middle of the main tent the protesters were attempting to erect, without which there was simply not enough shelter for a lengthy occupation.

I was unsure whether I wanted to go inside the area or not when I arrived, and soon police were surrounding the fairly low wall stopping people from climbing over. But I was able to take pictures from outside and move around freely – and to go home when I decided there seemed to be little point in staying.

Occupy Westminster Abbey – save the ILF
UK Uncut ‘Boot Out Boots’

Anti-Christ at the Abbey

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

I can’t understand how anyone Christian could condone the service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate 50 years of continuous nuclear threat by British submarines armed with nuclear missiles.  It seemed obscene and blasphemous, a total negation of the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

I’ve never really been a pacifist, believing that sometimes in extreme circumstances it can be the lesser of evils to pick up weapons and fight. I think I would have been prepared to fight the Nazis in World War II, though the question didn’t arise, as Hitler gave up the struggle a week before I was born. And had I been in South Africa under apartheid I would have found it hard not to support the armed struggle, and if I could have been of any use to have taken a part in it. There are times when its vital to fight for justice.

But fortunately I’ve never been faced with difficult decisions like that, though I did turn down the offer of interesting research on explosives when I graduated. Our country has not been under existential threat since the defeat of Germany in 1945, and the wars in which we have engaged have seldom been just or even in any way sensible, fighting to hang on to our colonies or enlarge our commercial sphere of influence. Chasing weapons of mass destruction we knew did not exist.

Nuclear weapons in particular are pointless – and extremely dangerous. Weapons that would only be used when we were about to be anihilated whether or not we used them, unless they were used by accident – and we now know that such an accident was only averted when one Russian officer had the good sense to disobey his orders.

Nuclear weapons are also very expensive – and the vast sums to be spent on replacing Trident could be spent so much more usefully on so many other things – and end the cuts to vital services.

Rather confusingly there were two protest vigils taking place opposite Westminster Abbey while the service was taking place there, one by CND and the other by Christian CND. Both were on the opposite side of the road to the church, but separated by a few yards. Christian CND I think held a short service and vigil, while the main CND protest culminated in a die-in on the wide pavement – and I think some came from the Christian CND vigil to join them.

Police made it a little difficult to photograph this event, with photographers being moved from the road in front of the protest at various times, and both photographers and protesters were made to come down from a wall at the back of the pavement which gave a better view of the people entering the Abbey for the service. There was higher than usual security as a couple of royas were attending the service, though one CND protester did manage to walk inside the Abbey, though was fairly soon removed and brought back across the road.

More pictures: Die-In against Nuclear Weapons celebration.