Festive research at Hereford Cathedral highlights a Bishop of Hereford sending Christmas Greetings in the 16th century.

Whilst preparing for the Christmas Capers event, which takes place on Monday 19 December, the library and archives team at Hereford Cathedral have highlighted a letter from Bishop Charles Booth to Canon William Burghill. The letter discusses various matters including a priest who had committed acts of incontinency (which simply means lack of self-control, usually involving a woman, rather than the meaning we give the word today); a man called Middleton who was forbidden to keep company with his aunt except at church or market (but without any background as to why), and others.

The letter however opens with the line, “I praye God ye may be all in good charite and mery this Crystmas” which Elizabeth Semper O'Keefe, archivist at Hereford Cathedral, believes to be an early survivor of the written use of the pairing of merry and Christmas.

Image shows the letter from Bishop Charles Booth to Canon William Burghill

Elizabeth Semper O’Keefe, Cathedral Archivist, says, “Preparing for Christmas Capers has given us an opportunity to review and share some of the most seasonal stories. This is just one of many delightful details that we are highlighting in our event next week.”

Christmas Capers will take place on Monday 19 December at 7pm in the Cathedral Nave. Tickets cost £12, including refreshments, and can be booked here.