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Lambeth 2022: Lambeth School Photo goes off without a hitch

30 July 2022

Church Times/Richard Watt

The Lambeth Conference photoshoot on Friday afternoon

The Lambeth Conference photoshoot on Friday afternoon

ANYONE who remembers The School Photograph will identify with the scene on the University of Kent sports field on Friday afternoon, when all 660 bishops and, separately, their spouses, gathered in the heat of the day to pose for posterity.

There was something of the carnival about it, the glory and flamboyance of the women’s dresses making them look like a flock of brilliantly plumaged birds, easily out-staging the bishops in choir dress. There was something of the graduation ceremony about it too, with individual group photographs and selfies galore, and a feeling of family pride.

The spouses went first, trying, without much success, to follow instructions from a not-so-loud hailer to gather in a long line with “smallest at the front, tallest at the back”, around the perimeter of the very large field before clambering on to the tiered stand.

They were moved to sing “Amazing Grace” in a moment of spontaneity, and the spotlessly laundered blue and white of the Mothers’ Union stood out as a almost national costume.

The waiting bishops sought the shade of the trees, their scarlet robes first rippling and then billowing with the rise and fall of the breeze. The puffed white sleeves of their rochets lent them a look of the Old Masters. They clustered to chat before parading in the same fashion round the field, while the latecomers sought hiding-places and enlisted help to get them into their robes.

They should have engaged a schoolteacher to get them sorted. At least nobody whizzed round the back to appear on both ends of the souvenir.

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