The musical backbone of December. It wouldn’t be in keeping with the festive season without hearing the incredibly hum-able Good King Wenceslas or the melodic In the Bleak Mid-Winter. Carols have been part of Christmas history for hundreds of years and we can see why they are enduringly popular. They are uplifting, memorable and magnificent.
But, when did this particular Christmas tradition begin?
The earliest carols date back to the Middle Ages. Groups of people would go from door to door signing songs to spread joy, known as wassailing. Their memorable tunes soon spread and carols evolved. But, the 17th century nearly put a stop to them all together. Under Oliver Cromwell, the puritans tried to stop excess associated with Christmas, so these songs only survived in secret. It took until the 1800s before everyone was singing off the same hymn sheet again. The Victorians began to revive old medieval carols and even composed new ones, including O Come, All Ye Faithful.
Much like they used to bring people together hundreds of years ago, many of us still enjoy them with our loved ones during December. Some hear them as choirs sing at Christmas markets, others join neighbours at village halls, or you might be fortunate enough to have carollers knock at your door. But one of the best ways to enjoy them in all their glory when they are sent echoing through a through a cathedral or abbey.
So, gather your hymn books - we’ve picked the top 5 places to experience an uplifting cathedral carol concert, with properties to live in nearby:
London plays host to many carol concerts, especially with its four cathedrals. St Paul’s Cathedral in particular promises to get you feeling ridiculously festive. It is hosting a series of mostly free carol services this year, alongside two that are raising money for Blood Cancer UK and MS Society.
You could live anywhere in London and have access to all its beautiful cathedrals but our favourite is this property near Belgrave Square is very special:
If you’d prefer something a little closer to Christmas, Canterbury Cathedral is hosting a carol service on Christmas Eve. They have a world-famous choir so you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
You could walk from the Cathedral to this elegant townhouse within Canterbury’s city walls:
With music from the cathedral choir and the Manchester Brass Ensemble, Chester Cathedral will be hosting their annual Christmas Carol Concert on the 17th December. It promises a selection of traditional carols, as well as some modern music.