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Watching Loft: Advent Doors 2018

Written by Emily Essex, posted on Monday, December 3, 2018

The Watching Loft overlooks the Latin Chapel, which houses the Shrine of St Frideswide, our patron saint. Many believe that the watching loft, which dates from around the year 1500, was erected to keep watch over the gold and jewels at the shrine and the pilgrims who visited it.

Watching loft stairsOthers suggest that it was a Chantry Chapel – that is, a space set aside for a priest to say a certain number of Masses for the benefit of the soul of someone who had died – for the unknown person whose tomb rests under the Loft.

We can’t know for sure what its original purpose was, but one thing we can say is that the Watching Loft seems to have been furnished as a Chapel. The roughness of the inner walls suggest that they were once panelled with more impressive decorations and there are marks at the East end where an altar would have stood.

‘O come, o come, Emmanuel’, we often sing at this time of year. It’s a haunting song of longing, fit for Advent. This time of year is often called ‘the run-up to Christmas’. But the Church sees Advent as a season in its own right: a time of expectation, when Christians watch and wait for the coming of Christ.

As the watchmen look for the morning: so do we look for thee, O Christ. (Psalm 130.6)