Passion Play in Yorkshire Dales


Jesus escorted up Kirkgate from Garden of Gethsemane by guards (Christian Motorcyclists' Association)

Jesus escorted up Kirkgate from Garden of Gethsemane by guards (Christian Motorcyclists' Association)

The Yorkshire Dales market town of Settle staged a Passion Play 'Journey to the Cross' for the third time this Good Friday morning (22 April), with two new scenes including the crucifixion scene. The route wove under the Settle Carlisle Railway Line.

The action started started with the 'Last Supper' next to the Catholic Church. The crowd then followed Jesus and the disciples  to the Garden of Gethsemane. This was in the Millennium Gardens, next to the railway line, near Booths Supermarket.

Jesus was dramatically arrested and escorted up Kirkgate with the crowd following again. The Trial Scene was in the Market Place. Pontius Pilate gave the final decision for crucifixion from the surprise elevated position of the balcony on the Shambles.

Jesus carried the cross, escorted by two Roman soldiers through the narrow streets to the the field near the Settle Carlisle line Settle viaduct, opposite to the Parish Church.  From the cross, Jesus gave his final words. Two moving speeches were given by Mary Magdalene and the Centurion. The play concluded as the crowd of well over 100 joined in singing 'When I survey the wondrous cross'.

Jesus was played by John Bavington (Chaplain at Giggleswick School) Mary Magdalene (played by Margaret Calvert) and the Centurion (played by Billy Thwaite) gave powerful speeches after Jesus' death. Caiaphas, the High Priest (played by Ray Jones) dealt with the court scene in a humorous but meaningful way, and looking up to Pilate (played by Michael Cullingworth) who was standing on the upstairs balcony of the old building called the Shambles. Visiting members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association played the guards who arrested Jesus.

Thanks go to many people who organised and took part including Wendy Holt who directed the play and John Diggles who provided the sound system and loudspeakers.

It was organised by Churches Together in Settle and District. More and more people followed the play as we walked round. We had hot-cross buns afterwards in the Parish Church provided by the Mothers Union.

Judith Allinson who took the photographs (the web-editor for Churches Together in Settle and District, and who was one of the disciples) said: "The colours were beautiful in the sun. It was great that more and more people  joined in as we went round. When Jesus said 'It is finished' and Mary Magdalene reflected on his life, I thought of people in Libya and Bahrain and other countries of conflict who are suffering, indeed facing the end of their life."

Sally Waterson, (Secretary of Churches Together in Settle and District, and costume manager,) said: "It was good to see so many people experiencing this moving account of Good Friday. We were blessed by lovely sunny weather."

At 6.30am on Sunday morning 24 April there will be a 'Churches Together' early morning service, followed by breakfast at the Friends Meeting House.

Settle and neighbouring Giggleswick have a population of about 4000. There are eight churches plus several nearby village churches.

See also: www.churchestogetherconnect.org   blog post by Judith Allinson


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