Church groups converge on abbey for open-air carols

WALKERS burned off some of their Christmas calories by taking part in hikes yesterday from three historic South Yorkshire churches to the now-ruined Roche Abbey.

Organised by the “Heritage Inspired” group, the guided rambles left Laughton All Saints Church at 9.45am as well as Maltby St Bartholomew’s Church and Firbeck St Martin’s Church at 10am, before the walkers congregated at Roche Abbey for a carol service at 11am.

After they arrived at the former Cistercian monastery, the walkers enjoyed mulled drinks, mince pies and carol singing – accompanied by music from Thurcroft Welfare Brass Band – before walking back to their respective churches.

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Organisers are also totting up the funds raised in a collection taken on the day, which will go to Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in North Anston.

Founded in 1147, Roche Abbey was first home to monks who arrived in South Yorkshire from Newminster Abbey in Northumberland.

It stands on the northern end of an area once covered by Sherwood Forest, and legend has it that the famous outlaw, Robin Hood, attended Mass there.

The abbey fell into ruin after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538, and was largely hidden from view until the 1920s, when excavations took place.