Shrove Tuesday Pancake races alive and well across the diocese


Pancake racing has been taking place this Shrove Tuesday (February 17th) on streets across the diocese from village churches to Minsters and Cathedrals. It was the first experience of the traditional Ripon Shrove Tuesday Pancake races for the Dean, the Very Revd John Dobson, pictured below with a team of Cathedral staff racing along Kirkgate -  including Canon Paul Greenwell, Verger Philip Bustard, Head verger Colin Belsey (right) and the Mayor of Ripon, Cllr Mick Stanley. The event was marshalled by Ripon Rotary Club  and a supply of pancakes for the races were provided from a field kitchen set up on the West Front of the Cathedral by 21 Royal Engineers Regiment. Several local businesses took part together with children with the flag going down for the first race at the sounding of the Pancake Bell at 11am. All those who raced received a certificate together with an Easter egg donated by Hemingways. 

Below left - head verger Colin drops his pancake as the Cathedral staff and the Mayor jostle for position. Right - a quick practice before the race.

Pancake racing at RiponPractising pancake tossing









Leeds racesLeeds Minster’s annual pancake race took place a few days early this year, because Shrove Tuesday falls in half-term.

Dozens of children from St Peter's CofE Primary School, the Minster's Sunday School and choristers from the famous Choir of Leeds Minster (in their traditional red dress) raced down the historic back streets of central Leeds – attempting to toss pancakes as they went. One described it as “an unmissable, hilarious afternoon of traditional fun”.



Canon Tony Macpherson sampling a pancake

Over 200 pancakes were cooked up and served to local people this morning to celebrate Shrove Tuesday at Wakefield Cathedral. 

Staff and volunteers spent two hours frying pancakes beneath a specially erected gazebo on the South Porch steps this morning to hand out to passers-by.

The chefs Andi Hofbauer (Canon Precentor ) and Tony Macpherson (Sub Dean and Canon Pastor) donned chefs hats to join in the fun.

Heidi Smith (Community Missioner) and a team of volunteers encouraged people to join them in the nave where they served free hot drinks, while Tracey Yates (Community Learning Manager) led children’s activities. Pancake catching competitions, decorating prayer stones and puzzles were all part of the fun.

Pancake tossing

Canon Tony said
“We had a wonderful morning. Lots of people stopped to chat, share food, and visit the Cathedral.  It was marvellous to see so many new faces here, many of whom had never been in the Cathedral before.

Wakefield Cathedral is right in the middle of the city and an important community space here in Wakefield, so it was great to be able to introduce our fabulous building to visitors in an informal and hospitable way”.

Canon Andi summed up the morning:
“Pancakes, a cup of tea and glorious sunshine on the cathedral steps, children’s activities, loads of smiley faces, hospitality. What more do you want?”

Why Pancakes and why Races?

Shrove Tuesday is part of the Christian calendar marking the eve of Lent (40 days of fasting and prayers before Easter ). It was historically held so people could use up their supplies from the pantry before Lent began on Ash Wednesday. The word shrove comes from the Old English word shrive - to confess one’s sins. On Shrove Tuesday people confess their sins and it’s believed that pancake races came from women rushing to church before the noon cut-off time, clutching their half-finished pancakes.

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