Choristers at Lancaster Priory will be singing with joy as they return to the ancient church this Sunday.

Sung worship has been an important part of life at Lancaster Priory, stretching back to its origins as a Benedictine community, but the COVID-19 pandemic silenced singing for the longest time in living memory and probably not since Oliver Cromwell’s puritan days.

Although the Priory’s choirs can’t return to their full schedule yet and neither is hymn singing by the congregation allowed, small groups of singers will be raising the roof again  on Sundays from September 6 during the 10am Eucharist and 6.30pm Choral Evensong services.

And the Priory has another reason to celebrate this autumn as three members of its Girls Choir will be joining the sixth form at the elite Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester.

Ellie Blewitt, Phoebe Heywood and Bella Leong-Smith will be leaving the choir two years earlier than expected to take up this exciting opportunity.

Bella, who has been a chorister since she was eight, said: “It really helped me to build my confidence as well as my musical ability. The experiences I had were invaluable and without the Priory and the staff, I wouldn’t be the musician I am today.”

Children and young people who sing at Lancaster Priory are offered the same world class choral training found in cathedral and church choirs across the country and each year, a large number of choristers go on to study music at university or take up prestigious choral scholarships alongside their academic studies.

Priory director of music, Don Gillthorpe, said: “We wish Ellie, Phoebe and Bella all the best for the next exciting chapter in their musical development. They have all made an outstanding contribution to our worshipping community at the Priory and their voices will be sorely missed.”

Many children who begin their love of choral singing through the Boys and Girls Choirs continue singing as adults.

Mr Gillthorpe is always pleased to hear from any boys or girls in Year 4 or above who would like to be involved in the musical life of the Priory.

Young people in Year 10 and above are eligible to be considered for Junior Choral Scholarships and university students can apply for Senior Choral Scholarships which provide fully-funded weekly singing lessons with a Priory singing teacher.

Occasionally, there are also vacancies for adults in the choir, subject to a satisfactory voice test.

Anyone interested in the various choral opportunities, should email: