|184: St Mary Abbots, Kensington, London|
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Mystery Worshipper: Sarum Sleuth.
The church: St Mary Abbots, Kensington, London.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Cavernous and gloomy Victorian Gothic by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
The neighbourhood: The tourists on Kensington High Street and the atmosphere of gentility in the surrounding residential areas sit somewhat uneasily together.
The cast: The celebrant was the Vicar, Rev Tim Thornton. The preacher was Rev Geoffrey Seabrook of Hornsey.
What was the name of the service?
Patronal Festival Eucharist.
How full was the building?
There were probably about 120 present, but this feeels thin in this vast building.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A brief word of welcome from the sidesman, who explained that everything necessary was contained in the service leaflet.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was fine for sitting, but absolute purgatory when kneeling. However, as pew rents survived here until comparatively recently, I wouldn't imagine that the gentry paying for their seat would have been interested in kneeling.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a subdued hum of very upper crust voices exchanging gossip.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The Angel of the Lord brought tidings unto Mary..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Special leaflet. The hymn book in use is the New English Hymnal.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
I could't help observing that some clean paint would brighten up the place considerably.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very much Prayer Book Catholic, with three ministers, servers in albs, and incense. The use was a slightly bizarre mix of Western and Sarum, with the latter just about winning. The celebrant wore one of the ugliest fiddleback chasubles I have ever seen! Unfortunately, the choir seemed to be somewhat out of control singing a setting by Vierne that was just beyond their capabilies.