Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Celebrating Essex Cereal

7th Oct 2019

The Essex County Harvest Festival took place at Chelmsford Cathedral on Sunday 29 September.

The service was led by the Dean of Chelmsford, the Very Revd Nicholas Henshall and Revd Janet Nicholls, Rural Adviser and Agricultural Chaplain for the diocese of Chelmsford.

Essex is one of the key cereal producing counties of the UK.  The theme of this year’s Harvest festival service was ‘Celebrating Cereal’, and was an opportunity to give thanks for the farmers who are dedicated to growing it.

The celebration began with a procession of farmers carrying sheaves of corn into Chelmsford Cathedral, led by the National Farmers’ Union Vice-President, Guy Smith.

Life-sized corn dollies, made by floristry students from Writtle University College, using wheat grown on the college’s farm were also on display.

The Cathedral welcomed members of the local farming community, local food producers and representatives from a range of farming and rural charities.

Guests included representatives from Marriages the Millers and Dorringtons Bakers who highlighted local farm-to-fork connections. Dorringtons Bakers, who are celebrating their centenary, year made a special harvest cake which was blessed during the service.

The National Farmers’ Union’s Crop Board Chairman, Tom Bradshaw, an Essex farmer, brought the reality of cereal production alive in his Harvest Report, sharing the joys and challenges of this year’s harvest.

Revd Janet Nicholls said:

Farming is facing many challenges at present but the Essex County Harvest Festival was a wonderful celebration of abundance and hope. We gave thanks to God for the goodness of the land and thanked our farmers and food producers for the real team effort that ensures the food on our plates.”



Image 1: Canon Ivor Moody blessing the harvest cake presented by Laura Dorrington in celebration of the centenary of Dorringtons Bakers.

Image 2: Professor Tim Middleton, Vice-chancellor of Writtle University College with Revd Janet Nicholls and one of the life-sized corn dollies made by the college’s floristry students.

More information

  • The Essex County Harvest festival was held at Chelmsford Cathedral on Sunday 29 September.
  • For more photos from the service, take a look at the Essex County Harvest Festival photo album on the Diocese of Chelmsford Facebook page.
  • Revd Janet Nicholls was a guest on the BBC Essex Sunday morning breakfast show on Sunday 29 September. To listen again please click here (approx. 1.49 mins in).
  • To find out more about Rural Ministry in the diocese of Chelmsford visit: