Skip to main content

The Enthronement through our eyes

The Enthronement through our eyes

The Cathedral community had spent months preparing for the Enthronement Service; indeed, preparations had been in full swing before the name of the next Archbishop had been announced.

The hard work had not been in vain as the finished result was an innovative, personal, and beautiful inauguration Service that blended the traditional and modern, with hymns, African dancers, Punjabi music, and improvised organ music. There was a strong African element to the Service, which reflected the Archbishop’s ties with the continent through his former job as an oil executive and more recently in peace and reconciliation work.

Other personal touches included the Archbishop’s colourful vestments, which were originally designed and made for the late Bishop of Peterborough, the Right Reverend Ian Cundy, the Archbishop’s tutor at Cranmer Hall, Durham, where he trained in preparation for ordination.

The Service was enjoyed by 2,000 invited guests including Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, the Prime Minster; leading Cabinet members; and representatives of the world’s major religions. It was broadcast live on BBC 2 and was viewed by millions worldwide.

From our perspective, the day could not have gone better. It is with great pleasure that we can share with you the memories of just a few of the members of staff who worked so hard both in front of and behind the camera to make that historical day a triumph.

Emma Clarke is the Cathedral’s Events Manager and, from the start, she and her trusty assistant Jocelyn were at the helm of the Enthronement Office. This was Emma’s first Enthronement; here she shares with you how she managed events and a few other things that you may not have been aware of…

The 21st March 2013 was the culmination of over six months intensive planning by the Enthronement Office. Although we knew the former Archbishop would be retiring on the 31st December 2013, until we knew the name of the new incumbent there was only so much initial planning that could take place. Initial meetings started with the BBC and LambethIMG_5062 Palace in July but it wasn’t until Archbishop Welby had been named that the planning could start in earnest. That included intensive two-day site visits by the BBC Outside Broadcast Crew. As well as lengthy meetings with Lambeth Palace to agree and finalise the guest list, which included input from St James’s Palace and Whitehall.IMG_5046
Once the list had been agreed, more than 2,200 invitations had to be sent out, the replies collated and then the tickets and joining instructions sent to all corners of the globe. The guest list was made up of VIPs from all walks of life, covering Royal, Diplomatic, Faith and Civic groups, as well as the Archbishop’s family and private guests, and the Cathedral Community. All of these groups had their own etiquettes that have to be observed which meant that at times the task of seating the guests turned into a three dimensional chess game. There was an unexpected spanner thrown into the planning stage by the resignation of Pope Benedict. This meant that our own guest list, especially the ecumenical guests, were not finalised until the day before the Service.
Each guest was assigned a numbered seat, which meant the Enthronement Office had to label each and every seat the day before the Service in time for the major dress rehearsal. The dress rehearsal was an event unlike any other, not least of all because Jocelyn and I were stand-ins for Their Royal Highnesses. Having to enact the royal meet and greet at the Great West Door with the full Chapter will be a memory I will never forget!
The day itself saw over 170 members of staff and volunteers welcoming just under 2,000 guests to the Cathedral. There were 70 members of the national and international press present, including a group of BBC School Report children, and over 16 BBC cameras filming proceedings. There were over 700 guests taking part in various processions, all of which had to gather and line up in various parts of the Cathedral. The majority of the processing guests formed up in the Crypt. However they would have been unaware of the fact that the coat hangers and coat rails they were using had been loaned to the Cathedral by various shops within the city. Debenhams lent us 500 hangers and Marks & Spencer lent us 25 coat rails. The conversations that took place to obtain these were among the strangest ever held in the Enthronement Office.
The two hours before the Service were incredibly busy as all of the guests arrived, from the general congregation through to the Royal party. All of the guests had to be in their seats by set times in order to avoid collisions with processions. This included bringing certain VIP guests in via back stage doors, and having to hold them back until the all clear signal was given to take them to their public seats.
The entire day was very much the living adage of the old analogy of the swan; while it looked peaceful, serene and perfectly timed to the congregation, my earpiece was red hot and never silent the entire time, showing how hard everyone was working behind the scenes to make the Service the success it was.

Emma Clarke, Events Manager

Heavily involved in the Service on the day, and with one of the best seats in the house (as it were), was the Cathedral’s newest member of Chapter, Canon Nicholas Papadopulos, the Canon Treasurer, who shares with us his Enthronement memories…

The Enthronement of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury was an overwhelming experience for this newcomer to the Chapter. My abiding impression is of a number of intricate strands cohering wonderfully to create a day and a liturgy replete with dignity and joy.
I had privately wondered how processions of several hundred people could be co-ordinated. They were, and faultlessly. Arranging for those processing (and those already seated) to be in Archbishop of Canterbury EnthronementCanterbury on the right day at the right time was itself the culmination of months of painstaking effort. The Choir’s glorious singing was evidence of their long and hard labours. And as for the tea that was served afterwards, well…Those are just four of the strands, and each of them was woven by a team of dedicated professionals in a style which I can already recognize as belonging to Canterbury.
Among my favourite memories are: members of the Cathedral community playing parts at the dress rehearsal; Evangeline’s poise as she put those resonant questions to the Archbishop; the reverence accorded to the Canterbury Gospels; the eloquent French blessing given by the Archbishop of Burundi; and the power of the African dancers. But above all I will remember the warmth of the ovation given to the Archbishop once the Dean had placed him in the Chair of St Augustine: the stones of our beloved Cathedral rang with affection and hope. It was a privilege to be present – and I am profoundly grateful to all who made it what it was.

Canon Nicholas Papadopulos, Canon Treasurer

Having been involved in not one but four enthronement Services at the Cathedral, Dr David Flood, Master of Choristers, is somewhat of an Enthronement veteran. He and the Choir spent many weeks before the Service practising. They performed to perfection on the day…

The Enthronement day was a great thrill and I was really delighted with all the music.  IDr David Flood conducts the Choir as they sing Te Deum in C by Benjamin Britten.t seemed as though so many calculations had come out right and so much wonderful rehearsal and preparation was truly rewarded.  All the musicians really excelled themselves and we showed a huge audience how good we are at these occasions. Above all, everyone really enjoyed it.

Dr David Flood, Master of Choristers

No stranger to performing especially to large audiences, Frankie Shepley (year 5), a Cathedral Chorister, shares the Enthronement Service with you, through the eyes of an excited boy…

The Inauguration of the Ministry of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby at Canterbury Cathedral.The Procession moves to the Quire.

During the build to the Enthronement, we had a few days off school to practise and prepare for the big day. We had a huge rehearsal the day before it all really happened. Lots of important people could not be there so people rehearsed with signs round their necks! For the important day there were lots and lots of security all over the place. There were policemen and sniffer dogs everywhere. We were lucky to be able to meet some sniffer dogs; they were amazing!Police
On the day itself, we all woke up with loads of excitement and had breakfast together in our pyjamas. The day was an amazing experience and I will never forget it. I loved having the camera zoom in on me near the end. I still can’t believe I got to do it and it will stay in my mind forever.

Frankie Shepley (year 5), a Cathedral Chorister

The award winning team at the Cathedral Lodge, provided a variety of teas and luncheons to many of the invited guests, Richard Moppett, General Manager explains…

The team and I at the Lodge were extremely excited at the prospect of providing the The Inauguration of the Ministry of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby at Canterbury Cathedral.welcome to so many guests for the Enthronement of Archbishop Welby as soon as the date was set. Although our preparations were small in scale compared to many other departments, this was a once in a career opportunity for many of the staff to host such an important event, and we were very aware of the importance of every link in the chain of Cathedral departments being equally strong. We also wanted to uphold the long standing Benedictine tradition of hospitality provided at the Cathedral, and with many of our guests arriving after long and exhausting journeys, a warm smile and welcome was important to ready them for the events of the 21st March itself.
ROB_2108Welcoming all the Primates of the Anglican Communion the night prior to stay at the Lodge generated an exciting atmosphere, further enhanced by being able to look after Archbishop Welby and his family for a simple dinner at the Old Palace as he prepared for the events of the following day. On the day of the Enthronement itself, we catered in total for over 650 guests and Cathedral staff for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, and we were especially pleased to show case a large amount of Kentish produce in this catering, despite the earliness of the season and cold weather. We had huge support from suppliers at the Goods Shed, Canterbury.
Thanet Earth managed to produce some early season salads, and we even included some produce provided from the Deanery gardens for a truly local menu! At the end of such a busy day, like so many in the Cathedral community, all the team enjoyed watching the Service on BBC iPlayer at home, albeit with rather sore feet!
One of the personally memorable parts of the Enthronement for me was actually on the following day. We catered for Archbishop Welby at the Old Palace as he met with all the Anglican Primates to get straight down to a busy working day. As there was no pause in that part of the Precincts, the de-rig seemed to be moving at electric speed, the Cathedral was gearing up for that most important of times: Holy Week; and at the Lodge we were already greeting regular guests arriving for a weekend break in our fabulous City. Perhaps as impressive as the day of the 21st March itself (if that is possible), is the way the whole community switched back to the day to day rhythm of Cathedral life without any visible break.

Richard Moppett, Cathedral Lodge General Manager

image of the Cathedral
Top Of Page
New Website! What do you think?