Sunday 24 May 2015

Parsnips And Peas In The Pulpit At Pentecost?

I have only just heard the story of The Vegetable Sermon – a tradition stretching back nearly three centuries. It all goes back to a gardener called Thomas Fairchild, from Hoxton, East London. He is credited with creating the first hybrid - in 1717 he took the pollen from a Carnation and brushed it onto a Sweet William in his nursery. The resulting flower [which did not produce seeds] became known as Fairchild’s Mule.



But Thomas was a God-fearing man, and concerned that it might appear that he was seeking to out-do the Creator by making his own flowers.

So when he died in 1729, it was his wish to be buried in the Poor’s Ground of St Leonard’s Church in the Hackney Rd and he bequeathed twenty-five pounds to the church for the endowment of an annual Whitsun sermon.

The sermon was to be on either the wonderful works of God or the certainty of the creation. This annual event became known as the “Vegetable Sermon” and continued in Shoreditch until 1981 when, under the auspices of the Worshipful Society of Gardeners, it transferred to St Giles, Cripplegate.

This year the tradition is to be revived [admittedly 3 days after Pentecost – better late than never, I suppose] This is billed as a lecture rather than a sermon. I wonder what Dr Sheldrake will say


Some suggestions for hymns at a vegetable service…

Let there be peas on earth

We will salsify

Sprout for joy and sing

Beauty for broccoli

Lettuce draw near

These are the days of the Endive

Enough of this frivolity – it is Pentecost Sunday and that is far more exciting than a sermon about vegetables! Have a glorious day



  1. Love that Pentecost banner! I have a sermon ready on Voices and helping the marginalised and displaced to have a voice, to witness for those in need as well as to them, and to show the fruits of the spirit in the world. Fingers crossed people are receptive as it's a bit tough in places! Hope you have a great day x

  2. That was fascinating Angela. I love learning the stories and origins behind things.

  3. Love the hymn suggestions! Especially the "Let there be peas on Earth". :)


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