I am just returned from the special Choral Evensong at York Minister that was supposed to be in honour of Richard III Lord of the North.
Like many I felt Richard ought to have been re interred in York Minister ,however this was not uppermost in the minds of all those I met waiting to enter the chapel to celebrate Evensong,I heard many northern accents but also many from around the UK ,I spoke to visitors from Europe and the USA who had come long distances to honour Richards memory in his spiritual home ,this included some ladies from the Leicester area. We had all travelled either individually ,with friends or in some cases in groups to come to York and honour our King .
The Minister is breathtakingly magnificent and hallowed by centuries of prayer, the peace was palpable .The choir sang beautifully and the service was moving and spiritually uplifting .That is until the Dean gave her homily .I had noticed at the beginning of the service when she welcomed everyone she seemed slightly nervous and I felt a little sorry for her as did others .She had been responsible for the statement saying York would not accept Richard III ,s body which probably strongly influenced opinion against York and had not long before been Dean of Leicester ,so I guess she may have felt a bit apprehensive. While I in common with others may have preferred someone else to lead worship we where willing to submit to the decision without too much thought she is after all Dean.
I assumed she had insisted on taking the service to build bridges and repair damage .Unfortunately this was clearly not the case.What followed was unbelievable ,utterly incredible,it was an eulogy to Leicester ,She opened her address by admitting she had “some trepidation” in giving her homily ,she said many of those present would be thinking of her as “the enemy in your midst”. Then plainly stated that we might have wanted Richard buried in York but the law had found against us and we couldn’t. (apparently this statement was accompanied by a wide smile) She then stated that he was buried in Leicester now and would shortly be sealed in his tomb there in the Cathedral.The greater part of the homily then concerned what had been done in Leicester ,how good Leicester was and some rather weirdly reasoned comments about Leicester and its people reinventing its history ,embracing other cultures etc which had no obvious links to either the Christian faith or Richard III .There was barely any mention of Richard III by name what few “facts” she mentioned she got wrong,for instance she said he had reigned for “a few months” .There was no mention of his life ,his links to the North or the love of the North for him.There was actually no spiritual input to the homily either .I don’t believe that the name of Jesus Christ was mentioned even once,it was a lost chance to present the gospel of Christ to a congregation that was probably partly composed on non church goers. Considering the content there can have been no other reason for her homily than to teach us a lesson in humility .The outrage caused by the deans address can be most clearly seen by the fact that a petition to have her removed from her post at York (started by a non attendee at the evensong )received over 100 signatures in its first 24 hours and currently stands after 7 days at 152 signatures .This must be at least 10 percent of people at the evensong and considering the limited space I suspect it is nearer to 20 percent or more ,assuming that many people attending do not know of the petition or may not own computers this is a huge number of people outraged by Dean Faulls behaviour.(Prior to the Thursday services homily I would not have signed the petition )
It is so very, very sad that what was supposed to be a positive thing namely a celebration of Richards life became a platform for personal vendettas . The house of God was used to promote the Deans personal agendas and promote a city that is not now part of her spiritual care .
She and the Minister have betrayed their spiritual duty to their congregation .They or at least Dean Faull ignored their promise on the York Minister s own website which reads
“We are working closely with other organisations in York to celebrate the life of Richard III over the course of the next 12 months. Richard III is remembered fondly in the city, and so we are pleased that City of York Council, York Minster, the University of York, York Museums Trust, the Richard III Society and the king’s descendants are working together in this way. We welcome the chance to involve York Minster’s archives and building to support commemorations of Richard III who is remembered here in stained glass, in our historic records and through the investiture of his son as Prince of Wales”
I think its fair to say that many at the service felt at least a little disheartened at what is felt ( rightly or wrongly) to have been the disrespectful events in the time leading up to the re interment of King Richard. We were wounded souls seeing solace in honouring Richard in York and looking perhaps for reaffirmation of the godliness of the church as we had not had the best of experience of it over the past few months.
The dean ought to have reached out to her flock ,offered encouragement and solace , She could and should have built bridges and reaffirmed our faith in the Church.Instead she choose to use the pulpit to kick us while we were down .
After the service while still in the minister she was overheard by several people telling those around her that she did not care if she had upset people ,she was laughing on exiting the service and looked happy and smiling greeting the leaving VIPs.
An onlooker stated
“when I was listening to her after we left the Minster, she was basically just bragging to other people that she isn’t bothered that she annoyed people by mentioning Leicester ”
I am told the Dean received a bouquet of White roses from Leicester in the days after her address.I have also had it confirmed by several people that that York Minister had refused to allow white roses to be carried in or used at the service and that people had been prevented from placing them under the Richard III window.While it was Lent when flowers are traditionally absent from churches ,the Minister had several other wreaths in its side chapels.Leicester Cathedral had white roses and many other flowers at the re interment .Banning white roses from Yorkshire’s spiritual centre seems quite simply wrong .
.We also discovered later that she had been on record on more than one occasion making assurances that York events would not divert attention from those in Leicester or take the focus from it.A promise she has more than fulfilled though it did not need to have been so militantly observed.
Shame on her! and shame on the Minister! who has allowed the Dean to bring division and distress to a congregation seeking only to honour its own and were many had been keenly hoping for solace and reconciliation.
Here is a sample of the comments from the changeorg petition.It should also be made public knowledge that the author of the petition has had pressure put on them to remove it ,,an anonymous spokesperson from the Minister has complained about it.Though Minster staff are clearly keeping abreast of the comments below ,no offer at an apology has been made ,only the Ministers statement to the press criticising it .
By contrast full credit to Professor Gordon Campbell who issued a full and total apology for his factual errors which I reproduce below
I regret to say that on the Historical Note that I wrote for the Orders of Service for the reinterment of Richard III, I inadvertently substituted the birthday of Richard’s mother (3 May) for the birthday of Richard (2 October). I also stated that he emerged into public life in 1459: the date should have read 1469.
I apologise for the error, which was entirely my fault.
Gordon Campbell DLitt FBA
Fellow in Renaissance Studies
University of Leicester
I also include a selection of comments from the changeorg petition
dawn bailey SCUNTHORPE, ENG
- 6 days ago
The Dean of York doesn’t have the interests of York at heart
Angela cuthbert NORTHALLERTON, ENG
- 6 days ago
I was there at Evensong and witnessed the travesty of the sermon.
Marjorie hodgkinson BRADFORD, ENG
- 5 days ago
How can her congregation have respect for her When it is obvious she has no respect for them. Whichever side people are on the service for Richard 111 in York was NOT the place for politics or to extol the virtues of Leicester Which is obviously where her allegiance lies. I suggests she is dismissed from York Minster, and returned to the town she think more of for the people of Yorkshire don’t want here. I for one will Not enter the Minster while she is there
Dee Boucher OLDBURY, ENG
- 1 day ago
She is obviously forgetting her flock in York and her duty to the Minster and is still feeling piqued that she has missed out on being the centre of attention in Leicester. I can see no other reason for her constantly promoting her former parish. You cannot deny King Richard’s connections to York as described by the Yorkshire Museum later that evening, the York Fabric Rolls and many documents that Yorkshire has in its archives. She couldn’t even mention one connection in her homily as if she were ashamed, which I think she has has she has discouraged even the York Minster staff from acknowledging his window and telling visitors about it.Sonia Dimmock NOTTINGHAM, ENG
- 5 days ago
She deliberately set out to sabotage what should have been a reverent service. Before she spoke it was. She is not fit to be a representative of the Church of England
Tee Bylo N yorks
her contemptuous resolve to destroy the Service of Evensong at York Minster on Thursday March 26 2014 was sadly a further indication that she has neither the humility nor the understanding equal to her role as the Dean of York Minster.
It is my personal belief that Vivienne Faull is unsuited to her calling as the Dean of York Minster and that the people of York deserve a Dean possessed of integrity and compassion.zi jones LLANDYSUL, WLS
- 4 days ago
- Liked 1
This woman is self seeking self serving and smug. Instead of acting for good, she acted in the basest way imaginable, favouring her previous place of employment shamefully. She clearly doesnt believe in God, because she obviously has no worries about meeting him her one day to explain her wicked actions. Rumours of threats to members of the York clergy should they push for Richard to be reinterred where he wished to be are also extremely disturbing and should be thoroughly investigated by a church commision. I would urge those members who were threatened to blow that whistle as hard as they can and make York Minster sacred ground again instead of what she has made it. A big old building you have to ay to get into.
Nick Ford SOUTHAMPTON, ENG
- 3 days ago
- Liked 1
The Church should offer comfort to the downcast, and reconciliation where there is enmity. Dean Faull used the occasion of the choral evensong at the Minster on 26th March to crow about her co-operative achievements with her opposite number in Lecicester in ignoring the easily-inferrable wishes of the deceased. It was unChristian, petty, triumphalist and well below the standard the Church should expect of its senior clergy.
Amanda CHAMBERS LINCOLN, UNITED KINGDOM
- 3 days ago
I am disgraced by it all
Gerri Andrades WIRRAL, ENG
- 2 days ago
Dean Faulls homily the during the service of evensong could have been such an opportunity to attempt to heal divisions that have happened between the supporters of a York versus Leicester re internment. Sadly she took an opposite line which resulted in more hurt and anger. I am only glad that from the Minster I went to St Wilfred’s RC church where a requiem mass for King Richard was said. Thanks be to St Wilfred’s.Wendy Saunders SYDNEY, NSW
- 2 days ago
Another person in the wrong place, send her packing if she doesn’t want to represent the people of Yorkshires wishes dead or alive.
I attended the service from about halfway through – I missed the earlier comments. But most of the service I heard, Richard wasn’t mentioned at all, and when he finally was, it was all about Leicester. I too walked out. I didn’t go to York to hear about Leicester, I went to pay my respects to Richard. Dean Faull wasn’t doing that, and continued to support her former parish. It isn’t good enough, her biased behaviour has no place in the church.I had been unwell up until Thursday and still not feeling up to travelling to York from London, but I felt I had to be there, in the Minster, to witness the commemorative service for King Richard, afterall, this was the church he loved and prayed in. To say we were let down would be the biggest understatement. This service was a Leicester excuse service, and nothing more. Nothing about Richard’s life in the North whatsoever. Dean Faull insulted us further by telling us that Richard had been king for ‘a few months’. I’m sorry to say that she’s an absolute disgrace.
We were so much looking forward to this Service in the Minster and people had travelled from America and Australia to attent this and also the Guildhall event. The Guildhall was magnificent and the programme was filled with love for Richard and genuine Honour, Respect And Loyaulty…… We went from this to high expectations to the MinsterSheffield, United Kingdom
27 Mar 2015 — “In spite of efforts to arrange a dedicated ceremony in the Minster, the Solemn Evensong was the only service they would allow. It was advertised as being “in commemoration of King Richard III” and orders of service were handed out with that title on the cover.,,,
The ceremony was basically their usual evensong with no specific mention of Richard until around the final third of the service which was a homily delivered by Dean Vivienne Faull. To the great horror of those crammed into the tightly packed seats we very quickly realised this homily was no homage to Richard, but instead was a validation of Leicester’s right to own him. Nothing was said about Richard’s time in York. It was pure and simple Leicester propaganda. A handful of us could take no more. We got up and walked out while she was still speaking, having to walk the full length of the quire with all eyes upon us. It felt right and it felt good. I know a lot of others would have joined us, but they were so tightly packed in they were unable to get out of their seats (a genuine health and safety hazard I think).
Also, the order of ceremony contained no specifically written words about Richard, just a reproduction of a piece written for the service in Leicester.
Both churches disgust me.”
The further damage done to York /Leicester relations cane been seen by reaction to the petition ,Leicester people see it as a vendetta against the Dean purely because she is from Leicester
Sorry to add this out of context but there is a current crisis at York connected to the sacking of all its bellringers by the dean ,there is a petition asking they be allowed back to ring at the remembrance day service and at Christmas perpahs visitors to the page here might sign
This was the initial statement made by Dean Faull on behalf of the minister when she refused to have King Richards Remains
“York Minster itself has a window in his memory and many reminders of Richard’s place in our story.
However, the recent verification of the identity of his remains follows a significant period in which Leicester and Leicestershire gained a sense of Richard belonging there, at least in death. It was Leicester Franciscans who gave him burial, and the cathedral has a major memorial to his memory at its heart.
When the possibility of an excavation of the Greyfriars site began, it was agreed from the start that any remains found would be reinterred in Leicester. When the archaeologists found an intact body the Ministry of Justice licence was drawn up in those terms and explicitly named Leicester Cathedral.
Since the news of the finding last year local people, like the people of York, have expressed a very strong wish that Richard, who has been with them since 1485, should stay in their keeping.
The Chapter supports the terms of the Ministry of Justice licence and the wish of Chapter of Leicester that Richard should be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.”
Re the “Walk out”
A few brave souls made a dignified exit down the main nave and other left through side exits .I know some feel that if there was such strong feeling more people should have left. There would almost certainly have been more “walk outs” if the space had not been so overcrowded and cramped .
Leaving for most of us in the old narrow box pews and antique wooden bench seats would have meant requiring others to move out of their place in the pew or at the very least gather up their things and stand up to let you pass before you could get out.There were many elderly people in the congregation who were unable to move quickly and most of us were seated with at least some people we didn’t know .If once you had stood up one person in the pew was likely to refuse to move then you would be stood mid pew cramped and hovering over someone in limbo.In some cases people were seated next to pews full of dignitaries which could have made leaving look threatening and caused an incident with security as the Minister now has its own self governing police force.In some cases ushers were present at pew ends and I personally felt they would have been unwilling to allow you to leave without a confrontation .I also think there was a lot of stunned disbelief it was very hard to actually believe what was being said one of the most common comments I heard while leaving was “unbelivable”
Honestly my own thoughts through the address ran as follows, though I cant remember all the address verbatim or its exact order after the first few words but the overall tenor is precise
The Deans opened with “some of you consider me the enemy in your midst” at which I thought” well thats a bit OTT ,dont be silly “,,it also felt vaguely accusatory ., I was slightly irritated ,but I figured she was just mentioning the elephant in the room ,,that she was unpopular in some quarters.
Dean stated Richard “reigned for a few short months “,,,I thought WHAT .no he didnt ,,what ,,whhh
She continued” You would have liked Richard buried here ,but the law said no ,”, I thought ,,”bloody hell thats a bit rude and confrontational ,,but true so maybe its leading to something better”,
Dean “Richard is now being interred in Leicester “,I thought “What ! really ,your going there ,,,I know that ,but thats why I am here to honour him in york”
His tomb sealed this night ,,”WHAT really your dwelling on that ,,for pitys sake woman!”
Now the first thoughts of escape started to surface but I was in a box pew at the very end and I also wasnt sure where the nearest open door was ,as I am around the height of a taller than average hobbit the box pew limited my view A LOT ! I sat as tall as possible in the pew trying to see over the top looking for an open exit ,saw a few people slip out of one opposite and wondered if I dared cross the aisle and run the gauntlet of officials.
Meanwhile the dean was talking about Leicester,,A LOT ,its achievements ,what she had been doing etc
Now I really ,really wanted to leave ,but there was a long row of people all with bags and coats on the floor in front of them and some were elderly ,I was debating how many would stand up quickly or at all or if being directly in front of the deans pulpit it might be too confrontational.
Meanwhile on and on went the Leicester comments occasionally I would think “whhhhhat ,,did she actually really ,really say that ?”
I started a weird to and fro argument in my head “Theres no possible explanation for this except that she is trying to humble and humiliate us ,she,s decided to settle old scores” ,,”no surely not shes a minister of god,”,,
“OK enough !I don’t want or need to listen to her ,how dare she use the house of God and the homily which is supposed to preach the word of god for her own personal agenda,I should stand up and say something” ,,nervous look at the ushers,”,maybe not “,My daughter would go barmy if she saw mum being dragged out of the minister by police and maybe I am being over sensitive and over reacting .
Several people left quietly and with dignity down the central nave ,from somewhere behind me an usher or possibly security came quickly forward and there was muttering behind him by others , I honestly thought he was planning on stopping any further walk outs ,he looked a bit anxious .
“Ok “I thought” thats ,that I am stuck here.How can I express discontent ,,say something? ,nope bad move it will cause an upset and bring the event into disrepute everyone will say”there you are they are all trouble makers ,bad losers,just as well they didnt get King Richard up north.”also it just possible I will get arrested ,,that will upset becks and dad
I thought “so this is what it felt like back in time being a dissenter or peasant forced to listen to sermons that were directed at denigrating you and your region,,,I came quite close to tears.
My Mum had died just before Christmas and Dad had travelled up from Wales to Scatter her ashes which we had done the day before the Evensong .I had gone to the Minister to honour Richard but also hoping perhaps for some spiritual solace as it had felt like a week of death and sadness ,futility and defeat.As a Christian of over thirty years I had naively believed the service would give me some strength to deal with the coming week.
At the end of the service I and some others decided to show our distaste by pointedly sitting down as the dean processed towards the door.I felt that by then standing as soon as she had passed,it would show respect for the officials and clergy present but disapproval to the specific person responsible for bringing shame to the Minister .
As I left it was clear people were unhappy ,I head a lot of people saying “unbelievable ” or just shaking their heads,my favourite comment has to be an elderly gentlemen who said to his neighbour “that womans not right in her head”
I still wish I had walked out like those brave souls.
After the Deans overreaction to criticism and exaggerated tales of “threats ” after the perfectly reasonable criticism of her refusal to allow reburial in York I felt a post service photo might be in order .Despite her rudeness and confrontational homily she was not disturbed or worried but stood shaking hands and talking to dignitaries ,she was not accosted and was involved in the procession through York where many of those who were upset walked in close proximity made no attempt to speak to her.I do understand however that she was triumphalist at having given her address and unconcerned over suggestions that she may have upset people.
The event was covered by media from around the region and the event despite the Dean ran smoothly and was dignified
Footnote with regard to the petition
This is a statement from one of those concerned which all those present including myself can verify .
“A couple of further points, just to set the record straight. Firstly, none of us who walked out actually said anything. It was a completely silent and dignified exit. So if anyone says comments, abusive or otherwise, were shouted at the Dean, this is untrue.
Secondly, the petition regarding the Dean was not started by any one of us who walked out last night. Speaking just for myself, I haven’t signed it and I have strong reservations about its efficacy. Again, if anyone states it was instigated by us, this also is false.
I’ve heard various reports along the lines of “people walked out and shouted abuse at the Dean and now they’ve started a petition”, so I felt it was necessary to set the record straight on both counts. Thank you.”
Perhaps instead of choosing a bible reading on “submitting to authority” which I did find odd (or at least I found it odd until I heard the homily ) the dean ought to have considered this reading from Micah
“Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise;”
The Dean may feel she can continue to insult and denigrate the people of her parish and she may escape censor from the leaders of church militant but she was heard and will be judged more harshly by the Head of Church Triumphant .
With regard to King Richard may he rest in peace .
He may indeed lie in Leicester but he reigns in York and always will ,Loyalty binds us
There is now (Oct 17 2016) a new petition to have the dean removed on a different issue ,it began with the mystery of the sacked bell ringers for which the dean is perceived to have been responsible but has become a humliating media circus due to mismanagement by the Dean .
“Whatever the cause of the dispute with the bell ringers, she has acted with her habitual high-handed, dictatorial manner and well-known lack of people skills. She has made herself a laughing stock in the national media, with comment after comment calling her behaviour unChristian. She has become an embarrassment to the Minster, and to York. She is not fit for purpose in the role of Dean.”
The petition had 17 signatures within minutes of becoming live.
I forgot to add this to the richard service post at the time but from the very first appearance of the Dean at the minister Richard was a topic,, this is from an artical about her ordination in york
In a joke over the recent possible discovery of the remains of King Richard III in a car park in Leicester, the Rt Rev Stevens said: “The key to creating a successful cathedral is to find an eye-catching relic. Vivienne managed that with the discovery of the remains of Richard III.
“She will make an ideal substitute if the remains of the King ended up resting at her former cathedral.”
Dr Sentamu, however, reminded the Rt Rev Stevens that “King Richard III was a Yorkist.”c