DESPITE being a highly proficient skater, the Rector of St Wulfram’s, Grantham, the Revd Stuart Cradduck, knew that a fall on the ice would prove more compelling to spectators than an easy figure-of-eight.
And so it proved. His fall on the ice has so far been viewed online 28,000 times. It took place last week on the artificial ice-rink he had installed at St Wulfrum’s (above), a 14th-century Grade I listed building, as part of a six-day Christmas-tree festival.
“I wanted to challenge people’s perception of who and what St Wulfram’s is,” he said on Tuesday. “It is a huge, very austere, vast building, which can be quite frightening to people; and it was about encouraging them to come in and experience the joy of our life inside these sacred walls.”
The festival began on Tuesday of last week with a candlelit procession through the town to the church, where the Christmas-tree lights were turned on. It was followed by a “Sip and Slip” event attended by 500 people. The rink was then open for another five days. Children skated for free, and local musicians and DJs provided music. On Sunday, the eucharist was held on the ice, with an altar block placed in the middle of the rink.
Over the course of the festival, more than 10,000 people came through the doors.
A total of 105 Christmas trees were entered in the festival, by local businesses, schools, and individuals, and brought inside the church. Two “prayer trees” were still festooned with thousands of prayers, Mr Cradduck said.
“The backbone of our thinking was about celebrating the church as sacred space, but also common ground,” he said. “Through the joy of the laughter and fun that was happening here, God was at work.”
This year, Historic England confirmed that St Wulfram’s, known by some as the “Glory of Grantham”, had been removed from its “at risk” register. Mr Cradduck and his team have had to raise £600,000 towards repairs to its spire, one of the tallest in the country.