week, Exeter Cathedral School, which is only a stone’s
throw from the cathedral itself. There was no time for a
rest or even to find out who was to be sleeping where,
though, as our first engagement at the cathedral was
that very evening. The choir adapted quickly to the new
surroundings and the obvious challenges that singing in
a building much bigger than St Matthew’s brings, and
Evensong set the bar very high for the rest of the week.
After dinner we began to find our way around the rabbit
warren-like school, and soon (for the younger members of
the party) it was bed time.
began bright and early with breakfast and a rehearsal at
school, which was to become our regular pattern. A
guided tour of the cathedral followed with many
astonished by the things which surrounded us as we sang.
After lunch in the sunshine on the cathedral green we
set off for the bowling alley where various grudge
matches could continue from previous choir tours. Soon
it was time to return to the cathedral to prepare for
Evensong where a large congregation waited to greet us.
After dinner a fiercely contested game of ‘Piggy in the
middle’ took place in the school playground with the
rules severely bent by some.
morning came and heralded what was to be an extremely
wet day. After the morning rehearsal we donned our
raincoats and set off for Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial
Museum which houses many artefacts regarding local and
national history. The younger members of the party used
‘Explorer Packs’ to navigate their way around the
galleries, and were particularly delighted to be able to
dress up in period costume. An afternoon of free time in
the city centre followed, with plenty of money being
spent at a fudge shop. Evensong was not affected by the
damp weather and neither were further games outside
was another fine day and we had no commitments for
singing at the cathedral that evening. After a lie in, a
short morning rehearsal took place and then it was off
to the beach at Dawlish Warren for the day. Some members
of the party spent the whole time digging for Australia
whilst others enjoyed the sea and a game of rounders. To
give the caterers the evening off the group enjoyed an
evening meal out in Exeter before heading back to school
for an early night. We were delighted to learn of many
of the choristers’ excellent GCSE results, and record
our warmest congratulations for their achievement.
an early morning, with a short rehearsal at school
before loading up music and cassocks and setting off for
Sidmouth where we were to perform a lunch time concert
in the Parish Church. We sang seven pieces from our
repertoire to a large audience and even managed to sell
some CDs! An afternoon visit to the Sidmouth Donkey
Sanctuary delighted everyone (even though it was misty!)
and soon we were back at the cathedral for Evensong.
Tired faces had begun to appear and so early nights were
welcome for many of the party.
dawned to blazing sunshine, and after a morning
rehearsal in the cathedral to get our bearings for
Sunday morning’s service we were off down to the
quayside to ‘Saddles & Paddles’. We hired bikes and
cycled around 6 miles in 3 hours, including a stop for
lunch. Some members of the party preferred to take a
boat down the river Exe and the canal and met us
en-route for lunch. An excellent time was had by all
with only one fall into a patch of nettles to dampen the
spirits. Evensong took place earlier in the day today
and following the service we were delighted to be
provided with a Devon cream tea courtesy of the
cathedral. As our trip was drawing closer to its
conclusion dinner was followed by presentations for all
the members of staff who had done so much to make the
week run smoothly.
morning brought with it torrential rain and a quick dash
to the cathedral in our Sunday best to prepare for the
Eucharist. There were close to 300 people in the nave
for the service and we were delighted to meet some of
them and hear their comments over coffee. Then it was
back to the school for lunch and to pack up the vans
with luggage before one last visit to the fudge shop and
cathedral shop. Following Evensong the younger members
of the party received certificates from the cathedral to
help remember their week singing there. We were pleased
to be able to share two of St Matthew’s commissions with
our new friends in Exeter on Sunday: William Mathias’
Missa Brevis (1973) at Eucharist and Philip
Stopford’s O How Glorious (2014) at Evensong.
After the service it was time to pile onto the bus for
the journey home, arriving at 10.30pm at the Parish
not be right for me to omit to mention a few people here
who made a significant contribution to the tour week.
Most particularly I should like to thank Jane Roberts
who masterminded the catering for the week (two
choristers were heard to mention they would miss the
food the most!), along with Rachael Drouet, Lizzie
Linney, Linda and Barry Moore who undertook much of the
care of the choristers, amongst many other tasks. Also
thanks to all the members of the choir for such
commitment and excellent singing, and especially those
who gave up a week’s holiday from work to come on the
trip, and to Tom Moore and Jonathan Starmer for their
playing of the organ all week. The musical standard that
was achieved was far beyond that which should really be
expected of a Parish Church choir and many at the
cathedral commented as such. I hope that those who
travelled from Northampton to support us in Exeter did
so with pride and found it a rewarding experience.
Chester in August 2016!
Please find below a selection of photos.