Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Christmas in England: Would it be inappropriate to walk into a neighborhood church for Christmas service?

Christmas in England: Would it be inappropriate to walk into a neighborhood church for Christmas service?

Oct 7th, 2007, 10:19 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,285
Only if you walk in during the middle ...

Other than that, where you are will make a difference: in NYC a church with a special service (say the French mass at Midnight, or St. Patrick's Cathedral, or any other church with a special music program) might issue tickets to ensure regular parishioners a seat. Only understandable, as there are certainly many "Christmas and Easter" only folk who could crowd out the steadfast weekly churchgoers.

I've never heard that tickets were issued to keep out drunk and disorderly, though! Possible I suppose.

I recommend you choose the church and stop by ahead of time - Christmas is on Tuesday this year, so go by on Sunday and get the facts.
tomassocroccante is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:29 AM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I know there are a couple of Cathedrals, I guess - that have very special sung services on Christmas Eve - and may require tickets - since so many people want to get in.

Other than that I can;t imagine any church that will turn you away as long as you go with the program. If it's a Catholic Church you should NOT take Communion unless you're Catholic and have confessed - as that's a sacrament with certain specific rules attached. Church of England (like our Episcopal) I believe is more open about this.
nytraveler is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:30 AM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,196
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services on TV are NOT prerecorded.

If Alan really doesn't understand the difference between Songs of Praise (a Religion Lite TV programme, which is always prerecorded and to which his link refers) and the real religious services shown live at midnight on Christmas Eve (which the link ISN'T about), then the current fad for boasting ignorance of 2,000 years of British history is even more know-nothing than I'd feared.

A list of services in all British (and Irish) Christian churches that take music seriously is available each week at the Times Online site. There's always a version for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The URL changes weekly, but go to www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/just before you leave for London then click on the "worship" link at the bottom left hand of the screen.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:30 AM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,558
Conveniently for some, the pubs close about the same time that Christmas Eve midnight services begin. ;-)
Heimdall is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:32 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,196
Westminster Cathedral doesn't require tickets these days.

The last sentence of my last post shouod have read:

The URL changes weekly, but go to www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/ just before you leave for London then click on the "worship" link at the bottom left hand of the screen
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 10:35 AM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,829
The CofE, as the established (state) church has to be open to anyone: and Christmas, in particular, is a time when we're all supposed to feel a generalised sense of togetherness, even if we're not regular churchgoers.

But obviously, it would help to make sure you've identified the right time so you're there for the kick-off, and don't have to scrabble for a seat.

P.S. they're right about drunks. My very church-involved aunt was once mortified by a brother-in-law who rolled up to the midnight service - usually graced by the Bishop - rather the worse for wear, only he hadn't realised there was a new Bishop since the last time he'd been to church. He had to be ushered out when he refused to listen to my aunt and started shouting "Which bloody Bishop is that, then?"
PatrickLondon is online now  
Oct 7th, 2007, 01:37 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
Thank you for that link, flanneruk.

Thanks for being so kind and helpful. Unfortunately we will not be able to stop in any of the churches the Sunday before as we only arrive on Christmas Eve.

Someone mentioned that the pubs close midnight on Christmas Eve. Is that true? Is it still possible to find food at around 11pm? A pint is not as important as some food, lol.

Not to worry though, we will attend church both on time and sober.
seetheworld is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 02:03 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,285
A story, not necessarily based in fact:

One snowy Christmas Eve many years ago, actress Tallulah Bankhead was driving down Fifth Avenue after a particularly festive party. She saw the crowd in front of St. Patrick's cathedral and ordered the driver to stop.

Draped in mink she marched up the stairs and through the doors, just in time to run smack into Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, about to proceed up the center aisle accompanied by the coterie of priests and acolytes.

La Bankhead and His Excellency looked one another up and down. He saw that she still wielded a champagne bottle. She saw his mitre, staff, gold-embroidered vestments and the smoking censor.

"Darling!" she declared in her best baritone, "I love your hat. But your purse is on fire."

tomassocroccante is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:03 PM
  #29  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,030
If you want to know what a church is really like, you may like to check out the mystery worshipper on the Ship of Fools website at www.shipoffools.com/Mystery/.

The mystery worshipper's report will tell you how warm the welcome was, whether the church is "stiff upper lip or happy-clappy", the length of the sermon, comfort of the pews, and much more.
chartley is online now  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:10 PM
  #30  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,372
seetheworld: I wouldn't count on finding a meal at 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve w/o quite a hunt.

Where are you traveling from? If you are landing at night in London - you will probably have been fed dinner on the flight. Not gourmet - but at least some food. Or - if you are landing that late - you could eat at the airport before heading in to town.
janisj is online now  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:40 PM
  #31  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
Hello Janis. We will be departing NY JFK at 7:45 am and are due to arrive at Heathrow at 8:40 pm. I know BA's food service is pretty decent. However, knowing my family and the time difference we will incur, they will be hungry!

I'm trying to figure out what I can buy at the airport -- International arrivals is Terminal 1, I think. I'm just not sure if many of these shops will keep their usual hours on Christmas Eve.
seetheworld is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:44 PM
  #32  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,532
We attended the midnight service at Westminster Abbey one snowy night. It was magical. The long walk back to our hotel because of no taxis and no tube trains at that hour was less so. Be prepared.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:47 PM
  #33  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
I could only imagine, underhill. That is why we want to keep to a neighborhood church. BTW, I just bought some very comfy boots for the trip...just in case.
seetheworld is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 06:04 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,532
Very wise!
Underhill is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 06:16 PM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,655
I have heard of some apartment services that will stock the apartment for you, for a fee of course. This could be an option for you.

I had a close friend, now deceased, that never went anywhere, and I include the entire planet, without packed supplies. Sometimes a suitcase full. He wanted what he wanted, and he made sure he took it with him. Seems a little crazy, I know but you could squeeze in a few things? Peanut butter? Crackers, canned soup? Instant soup or noodle mix?

tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 06:35 PM
  #36  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
Hi tuscanlifeedit. We are having a starter package but that includes very simple basics. I am already planning with DS's GF an "emergency" kit, lol. We figure between the two of us, we can whip up something decent -- no Christmas goose, but we will enjoy our adventure.

It looks like there is very little in way of shops in the Arrival's terminal.
seetheworld is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 06:40 PM
  #37  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 45,322
Just think of your Christmas Eve as an adventure STW..part of the fun of travelling. But oh gads, I do hate to be hungry.
LoveItaly is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:53 PM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,196
There's no "international arrivals" at Heathrow. Or rather, virtually all arriving passengers, everywhere in the airport, have to come through immigration control.

BA flights from New York arrive at T4. There are no grocery shops there: the M+S convenience store at T3 is a long way away, way out of your way, and it's practically impossible for your driver to stop there while you shop anyway.

There is an 24-hour, 365 day, M+S at the BP station on the Hammersmith flyover. Otherwise check the M+S and Tesco sites just before you leave for Christmas opening hours of other branches in your immediate neighbourhood. Precise Christmas hours usually don't get announced till early December.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 04:02 AM
  #39  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
stw- we have done this a few times when in London.. in a church in Chelsea and in Covent Garden..One year it was late November and we were able to be part of a Holiday card sale..
Don't know if you have plans for this but evening music at St Martin in the Fields wonderful.
Scarlett is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
TreehuggerChik67
Europe
1
Sep 4th, 2017 06:04 AM
lvillinois
Europe
129
Dec 29th, 2008 02:38 AM
PalenqueBob
Europe
19
Dec 28th, 2006 05:22 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:28 AM.