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Former Mediaeval Baebe swaps the pub for the pulpit

New church curate has been running Chandos Arms in Barnet

16 July, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Emily Kolltveit at St Mary’s Church

A FORMER metal band lead singer has started a new life as a church curate.

Emily Kolltveit, who used to perform with bands Pythia and Mediaeval Baebes, has more recently been running a pub with her husband. But the family are now moving into the curacy home at St Mary’s in Primrose Hill.

“When I told people I was moving to Primrose Hill, they said ‘hark at her, moving to that posh area’,” Ms Kolltveit said. “But that’s only the surface. There’s a huge amount of social housing and a diverse population in Primrose Hill. There’s a lot going on in Camden.”

Ms Kolltveit and her husband Are have been living above the award-winning Chandos Arms in Colindale, which they ran together. She said: “After a period of time running the pub I felt my true vocation was in the church. That was the journey I wanted to explore.”

Her stint pulling pints followed her time on the stage. “I was in Mediaeval Baebes for 16 years and it is still going now but I left it in order to focus on church life,” she said. “It was a great project to be involved with. I toured all around the world doing that.”

She has already worked as an administrator for the St John’s Church in Hackney, where she helped transform the church into a hip venue for gigs, playing host to Coldplay and Robbie Williams.

“I have an arts background and trained as a singer. What’s really lovely at church there is an opportunity to take all that with you and make it work within your ministry,” said Ms Kolltveit. “St Mary’s has an incredible music history behind it and I am grateful I will be able to do a lot of singing there.”

She trained at Ripon College Cuddesdon in Oxford. Her official ordination at St Mary’s will take place in September. As part of her new role at the church in Elsworthy Road, Ms Kolltveit is preparing for “months of reflection” on issues including mental health, race and how the elderly have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

She will be interviewing experts and streaming the conversations online. “It will be a real listening exercise to hear from people and their experiences,” said Ms Kolltveit. “I am particularly interested in social justice and I’ve seen how effective the church can be, particularly when working with people on a one-to-one basis.”

“I think the church is one of the great movers and shakers in this world.”

Ms Kolltveit and her husband Are at the Chandos Arms

Her husband will continue running the pub. The couple, who have a nine-year-old son named Saxon, met during her time with the Mediaeval Baebes and when Mr Kolltveit worked as a sound engineer.

She said: “He is an easy-going person and has been very supportive of the change. I think it is time to have a bit more peace and quiet and a nice family home. It is really an amazing job to have and to have that time and space to focus on those sorts of things rather than pulling pints.”

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