Today is the 42nd Horseman’s Sunday at St John’s in Hyde Park. Ross Nye, who founded one of the handful of riding stables which still operates in the park, set up this tradition in 1968, and horses and riders still gather in the forecourt of the church for a service. Hyde Park’s equine historian, Joyce Bellamy noted that the service had become a popular fixture in parishes throughout the country and the commonwealth in her 1975 book, Hyde Park for Horsemanship.
You can see the clergy out on horseback here:
The Reverend Stephen Mason traditionally leads a cavalcade of over 100 horses and riders to the church in order to celebrate horse riding in the heart of London.The blessing of the horses follows the main Sunday service, which starts at 10am.
Most visitors come to the morning service after which everyone files out into the open space in front of the church.
At noon the horses begin to arrive in procession, lining up along the forecourt and on Hyde Park Crescent.
As well as horses of all shapes and sizes–including Shetland ponies!–there are also horse drawn carriages and buggies.
There is plenty of entertainment for children, including games and activities, with music, raffles and tombolas for the adults.
The local shops and businesses around Connaught St join in, providing generous hospitality and raffle prizes.