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Bath buskers drown out evensong at Abbey

26 September 2014


Audience: Buskers in Kingston Parade, outside Bath Abbey, in May 

Audience: Buskers in Kingston Parade, outside Bath Abbey, in May 

A ROW has broken out after Bath Abbey was forced to cancel choral evensong for the first time in living memory because music from buskers outside the abbey was drowning out the choir.

The Rector, Prebendary Edward Mason, said that this was not an isolated incident. "Hundreds, even thousands, in Bath, have their peace, prayer, and remembrance blighted by buskers on a daily basis. The loud music from the buskers started just after our 3.30 p.m. choral evensong service began, and was clearly audible during the Bible reading. It was impossible to continue."

He said that, despite meetings with the street musicians, and setting up a traffic-light system to warn the buskers when services were on in the abbey, a minority of buskers "deliberately flout this".

Some of the buskers have hit back, however, claiming that the abbey had told the buskers the wrong start times for services by mistake. One, Jack Morgan, told The Times that "aggressive reactionaries from the church" had confronted him. "My feeling is the Rector has a personal issue with some of the buskers," he said.

The buskers plan to protest on Sunday. "We want the abbey to know we are not attacking the Church. A lot of us are Christians, and respect the abbey." During the protest, buskers will take their instruments out, but will not play them, The Guardian reported.

Prebendary Mason said: "I feel like weeping. Truly. Weeping for a city ruined by the clamour of music. Weeping for my staff subjected to music every day. Weeping that we human beings just cannot resolve conflict.

"Weeping for an abbey that has had a superb ministry of peace, healing, and quiet for hundreds of years, and which is being subject to the violence of noise."

A spokesman for the council said that it had been monitoring the area. The council's cabinet member for neighbourhoods, Cllr David Dixon, said that they would have to go further. "Under new powers provided by the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, we will be looking to ban all amplification within the immediate vicinity of Bath Abbey."

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