Bishop of Norwich becomes wherry patron
The Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich has become the new Patron of Wherry Yacht Charter (WYC), and marked this with a trip on wherry yacht Olive to St Benet’s Abbey.
The journey to the abbey, near Ludham on the Norfolk Broads, was for the annual open-air service which, this year, was held on Sunday August 2.
The St Benet’s service was understated this year with invited guests only, to reduce the numbers present and abide by the current Covid-19 restrictions. Sadly, those restrictions also meant that WYC was unable to transport its usual additional passengers to the service or provide the delicious afternoon tea on board afterwards, that is normally one of the highlights of the trip.
Bishop Graham said: “I am honoured and delighted to become a Patron of the Wherry Yacht Charter, building on the work of my predecessor in this area. Jesus spoke from a boat to the listening crowds and taught about the water of life. I hope that I will be able to encourage and enable others to enjoy and experience the spiritual connection that can be found through exploring the waters and landscape of the Norfolk Broads on one of your five beautiful wherries.”
King Henry VIII gave the Abbot of St Benet’s the position of Bishop of Norwich in return for land owned by Norwich Cathedral and, although now a ruin, the abbey was never formally dissolved. To this day the Bishop of Norwich is also the Abbot of St Benet's.
WYC first transported the Bishop of Norwich to St Benet’s Abbey for the open-air service in 1976 and has been doing so regularly ever since. A selection of different wherries has been used over that time, but fittingly that first trip, like this year, was on Olive.
Pleasure wherry Hathor has featured quite often, and in 2017 the Bishop’s party travelled aboard the largest and youngest (at a mere 93 years) wherry in the fleet, Ardea, accompanied by wherry yacht Norada. The sight of two wherries sailing together past St Benet’s Abbey was impressive. Despite varying weather conditions, the Bishop has always been delivered on time (or nearly!).
Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust was established to look after and keep sailing its fleet of five historic wherries – the pleasure wherries Hathor (1905) and Ardea (1927), plus the wherry yachts Olive (1909), Norada (1912) and White Moth (1915). Only eight wherries survive in total.
Visit the WYC website.
The photographs of the Bishop on board Olive are courtesy of Pauline Simpson (above) and John Ash (top) from WYC.
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