Reporting Candles on the Hill on 26th November 2023.


The event for Candles on St Catherine’s Hill, Abbotsbury, took place on Sunday, 26th November 2023. St Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of the chapel on the hill in Abbotsbury.
We celebrate on the nearest convenient Sunday to St Catherine’s Day, 25th November.

It was a horrible, rainy day while the decorated bags were placed in a circle on the hill and along the pathway leading to the Chapel.
The service inside St Catherine’s Chapel, led by our wonderful Vicar, Margaret Preuss-Higham started at 3.45 pm and this year the hymn was accompanied by an a Capela group.

The wonderful artistic efforts of the children from Portesham Primary, Thorners Primary , Burton Bradstock Primary, St Catherine’s Bridport and Chesil Bank Pre-school, in decorating candle bags were much admired.

As with all successful community events there are many people to thank including our sponsors who make the whole thing possible. Our special thanks go to Beachcombers, Burton Bradstock Parish Council, Chesil Bank Parish Council, Doonans of Weymouth purveyors of sand! , Fourniers, Graham Hunt Photography, Ilchester Estates, Litton Cheney Parish Council, Sherrens the Printers, Technical Graphics.

Thanks also to our local Abbotsbury shops for helping us to sell bags: Abbotsbury Village Store, Cherries, Robins Farm shop, Danzel Gallery, Helen Millard Gallery, Abbey Farm, Clare Hawkes Gallery, From My Mother’s Garden, Duircrafts and this year for the first time the Tourist Information shop in Bridport came on board.We heartily thank you all for your support which is much appreciated.

The event was run by members of the Friends of St Nicholas a charity whose aim is to maintain the fabric of our historic church. Led by: Julian Andrews, Julie Evans, Gard Gawor, Helen Millard, Barbara Laurie

Marking the circle

Early evening

Returning from the chapel service

Finishing the path

The finished article

Candles on St Catherine’s Hill is an annual event, initiated and managed by Abbotsbury Tourism and Traders Association in 2018 to celebrate the Saint Day of St Catherine of Alexandria, 25th November. It takes place on the nearest Sunday, and there is normally a service that afternoon, inside the Chapel, conducted by the Vicar of St Nicholas Church, Abbotsbury.

A large circle of light is created to represent the wheel on which, according to legend, St Catherine was tortured for refusing to renounce her Christian religion. The path from the village towards the Chapel is also lit.

The community is invited to decorate paper candle bags in advance to form the lighting.

Inspiration for this project, initially titled Candles on the Hill came from three local events which happened in the past:

Many years ago, one winter evening, brown paper bags with candles in jam jars were placed alongside the path, leading to an Abbotsbury Music concert in the Chapel.

Several years later, during the summer Abbotsbury Arts Weeks, an annual event using lanterns along the path was organised by Friends of St Nicholas. When they discontinued the event the lanterns were donated to The Sub-Tropical Gardens.

Finally Abbotsbury Music funded an art installation by Robbie Colman. He placed a glowing sixty foot diameter circle of blue neon tube on the hill. This was likened by the press to a landed space ship! It was spectacular and created a great deal of interest nationally.

In 2020 the Candles on the Hill event during lockdown, on St Catherine’s Hill, Abbotsbury, was managed by a separate entity. ATTA takes no responsibility for the activity in Abbotsbury on that day in 2020. ATTA has no interest or responsibility regarding complaints or actions arising out of the way this event was staged, sponsored or marketed.