Category Archives: Customs
The Pace Egg Plays are traditional village plays, with a rebirth theme, in which St George smites all challengers and the fool, Toss Pot, rejoices. The drama takes the form of a combat between the hero and villain, in which the hero is killed and brought to life, often by a quack doctor.
The plays take place in England during Easter; indeed, the word ‘Pace’ comes from the old English word ‘pasch’ literally meaning ‘Easter’, but have also been known to have been performed at other religious celebrations such as Christmas.
I stoode beside Tim Bobbin’ grave
‘At looks o’er Ratchda’ teawn;
An’ th’ owd lad ‘woke within his yerth,
An’ sed, “Wheer arto’ beawn?”
“Awm gooin’ into th’ Packer-street,
As far as th’ Gowden Bell;
To taste o’ Daniel’s Kesmus ale.”
TIM.—”I cud like o saup mysel’.”
“An’ by this hont o’ my reet arm,
If fro’ that hole theaw’ll reawk,
Theaw’st have o saup o’th’ best breawn ale
‘At ever lips did seawk.”
The greawnd it sturr’d beneath my feet,
An’ then I yerd o groan;
He shook the dust fro’ off his skull,
An’ rowlt away the stone.
The practice of strewing rushes in church as a primitive carpet has long since passed into history but the rush-bearing tradition is still upheld in a few towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Many of our old customs are fading away into the dim mists of antiquity, and all but the name will soon be forgotten. This is much to be regretted, because they were attended with a great deal of pure enjoyment, and were looked forward to by the people for weeks before the event.
One of these is the old custom of strewing rushes, and its attendant ceremony of the rush-bearing, with its quaint rush-cart and fantastic morris-dancers.
Once common to the whole country, it now lingers only in a few isolated places, principally in the hill districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire.
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On Wakes Monday (the first Monday between the 6th and 12th of September) the small village of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire is host to a unique Horn Dance. (Details of the event can be found here)
The”horns” are six sets of antlers attacked to wooden skulls, three black and three white (although it is notable that Cecil Sharp referred to the black horns as being painted blue and an account from 1686 says they are red.) The horns themselves have been carbon dated to the early 11th century. These horns are on display in St Nicholas Church for the rest of the year, a replica set being used any other time the dance is performed.
The six “Deer-men” are accompanied by a musician playing an accordion, Maid Marian (played by a man), the hobby-horse, a jester or fool, a child with a bow and arrow and another with a triangle. Until the end of the 19th century the dancers were all members of the Bentley family, before the dance was passed to the related Fowell family.
Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796) was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide.
As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them.
In 2009, STV ran a television series and public vote on who was “The Greatest Scot”. On St Andrew’s Day, STV announced that Robert Burns had been voted the greatest Scot of all time, narrowly beating William Wallace.
On 25th January, to celebrate his birth Scots (and others) around the world celebrate his life and works with a Burns Supper.
The main dish is haggis, served with neeps (turnip or swede) and tatties (potatoes) and perhaps the odd shot of whisky.
The arrival of the dish is announced by one of Burns’ most famous poems.
Address to a Haggis Read more »
Sir Bedivere, in silence, watched the barge
That bore away King Arthur to the vale
Of Avalon, till it was seen no more.
Then, on the beach, alone amid the dead,
He lifted up his voice and sorely wept
” Alas ! ” he cried, ” gone are the pleasant days
At Camelot, and the sweet fellowship
Of noble knights and true, and beauteous dames
Who have no peers in all the living world,
Is quite dissolved for ever, and the King
Has gone and left none like him among men.
O happy, thrice and fourfold, ye who rest,
Both friends and foemen, in one peaceful bed,
While I am sick at soul and cannot die !
Oh ! that the battle might be fought again !
Then would I surely seek the way to death,
And bleed and sleep like you, and be at peace.
Read more »
When the body of a nine year-old boy was found in a well in Lincoln in 1255, the Jewish owner of the well was (despite the lack of any evidence) held for the child’s murder.
Before his execution, he was tortured and coerced into implicating not only himself but also a number of prominent Jews, that had come to the city to attend a wedding, in a ritual murder that among other tortures involved the boy being crucified.
Six months earlier Henry III had sold his rights to tax the Jews to his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, this alleged crime gave him an excuse to seize the property of any found guilty of the crime.
92 Jews were arrested and taken to London, 18 were hanged for refusing to take part in the trial and the rest were found guilty and sentenced to death but later pardoned when Earl Richard interceded on their behalf.
Little Hugh’s body was buried in Lincoln Cathedral.
The story of the boy’s death stirred the anti-semitism that was already virulent in England at that time. Read more »
To the south of the villiage of Beddgelert in The Snowdonia National Park is a small stone monument marks the resting place of Gelert the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.
The spearmen heard the bugle sound,
And cheerly smiled the morn;
And many a brach, and many a hound,
Obeyed Llewelyn’s horn.
And still he blew a louder blast,
And gave a lustier cheer:
‘Come, Gelert come, wer’t never last
Llewelyn’s horn to hear.
‘Oh where does faithful Gelert roam,
The flower of all his race;
So true, so brave, a lamb at home,
A lion in the chase?’
‘Twas only at Llewelyn’s board
The faithful Gelert fed;
He watched, he served, he cheered his lord,
And sentinelled his bed. Read more »
Glossary of Lancashire dialect.
Bawls eawt, calls out
Fauce (False), knowing, wise
Hafe, or Hofe, half
Nau’but, naught but
Papper, paper, newspaper
T’, Th’, the