Ship of Fools: St Mary's Tower, Hornsey, London

imageShip of Fools: St Mary's Tower, Hornsey, London

Open air eucharist – a delightful idea – with babe in papoose

Read the full Mystery Worshipper report here


  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 7
    One small point of order - surely this service took place on a Sunday? The website seems to indicate that it's a regular feature of Sunday worship (weather permitting!).

    A delightful idea, indeed!
  • Well, it says Thursday, but it also says August 5, 2121, which was indeed a Sunday, at least where I live. :wink:

  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    edited September 7
    Where are you getting 2121 from? I see 2021. It is possible that the reporter meant September 5, which was a Sunday. There is no mention of the event on the church's website. However, Googling "Open air eucharist St Mary's Tower" clears up the mystery. I'll make the change.
  • Where are you getting 2121 from? I see 2021.
    Oh my! Either from my imagination or from my fat finger, I suppose.

  • As a former Hornsey resident, I was delighted to read this report. The Parish is rather an odd shape, being basically triangular with the Parish Church and the Tower sitting at the two bottom corners. (The top corner isn't far from Christ Church, Crouch End; and there's another church - Holy Innocents - not far away too). Originally the Tower was the site of the Parish Church but the ground isn't firm and the building basically fell down! A new church was built in the middle of the base of the triangle but this was bombed during WW2 (I think a Fire Station now stands on the site) and the new church built further west, leaving it very much "eccentric" geographically, and at least a mile away from the Tower and the school next door, where my wife used to teach. The Tower stood derelict for many years but a small group of activists campaigned for its restoration - a lot of 'guano' had to be removed first! I remember a Sunday afternoon tea-party being held at the site, over 30 years ago, which launched the appeal.
  • A lovely nod towards the parish's history. I guess the open-air Eucharists have to be cancelled from time to time on account of inclement weather - or do they perhaps have some sort of gazebo which can be put up?

    Either way, maybe the open-air services are a summer-only feature of the church's life!
  • Half a century ago as a schoolboy I used to sing in the lofty church that replaced the ancient, falling down one, of which the tower alone now stands. The replacement was a handsome gothic structure designed by leading gothicist James Brooks, completed 1888, and 50 yards East of its collapsed predecessor. You might have thought they would have been more careful with the foundations, but this church, in turn, developed massive cracks due to subsidence and was demolished in 1969. St Mary's CofE Infants School now stands on its site and is, perhaps wisely a lightweight one-storey structure, for that part of Hornsey seems to have wobbly ground. As a choirboy I noticed the tower that now forms the backdrop to the open air eucharists was covered in immense growths of ivy from bottom to top so that the tower masonry was invisible. This ivy was the roost for huge numbers of starlings who would swarm and circle en masse at dusk before settling for the night. The starlings of London were quite a sight in the 1960s and 70s and have now almost all disappeared.
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