Historic worship at Hampton Court Palace

A historic Vespers service is taking place today at Hampton Court Palace. The Palace is celebrating its 500th anniversary this year. Last month, the Daily Telegraph announced,

It was the backdrop for the dramatic events which severed the ties between the Church in England and Rome in the 1530s as Henry VIII’s marital travails ushered in the turmoil of the Reformation.

But the sound of Roman Catholic worship is to be heard in the Chapel Royal in Hampton Court Palace next month for what is thought to be the first time in more than 450 years, in a service led by the country’s most senior Catholic cleric and one of its most senior Anglicans.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols will join the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Charters, for a unique service of vespers as part of an initiative to celebrate the chapel’s musical heritage spanning both Catholic and protestant reigns.

But the service, to be sung mainly in Latin, is being hailed as a symbolic milestone in reconciliation relations between the two churches at a time when the legacy of the Reformation is being re-examined.

The service, originally conceived to mark the palace’s 500th anniversary, comes as churches across Europe also prepare to mark half millennium since the onset of the Reformation itself.

The New York Times notes that it was from Hampton Court Palace that King Henry wrote his first letter threatening to break ties with Rome in 1530.The backdrop to dramatic scenes throughout the reign of Henry VIII, and the site of his marriage to his sixth and final wife, Catherine Parr, Hampton Court Palace and its Chapel Royal is believed to have last seen Roman Catholic worship under Mary Tudor, elder sister of Elizabeth I, according to the Telegraph:

John Studzinski, founder of the Genesis Foundation [one of the arts foundations sponsoring the service] added: “Dialogue between faiths is much needed and welcomed in these turbulent times.

“We need to recognise that we have more in common than not … it will be an unforgettable occasion and is genuinely one for the history books.”

A BBC Radio 3 recording of the service will be broadcast at 15:30 GMT on March 30, and again at 15:00 on April 3.

Photo: Hampton Court Palace Chapel Royal via http://www.hrp.org.uk/hampton-court-palace


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