Category Archives: Customs

The Britannia Coconut Dancers

From the town of Bacup with blackened faces and unusual costumes comes a unique folk dance troup. The team dances several garland dances once common as part of rushbearing festivals around the area, but also a “nut dance” of which they now seem to be the sole surviving example.

The Britannia Coco-nut Dancers, a folk dance troupe from Bacup in Lancashire, England.

Photo by Kezka Dantza Taldea Eibar

Whilst the clogs shirt and britches are traditional Lancashire, the white and red hooped skirt and white hat/turban seem more exotic in origin.

While Morris Dancing is rumoured to have been derived from the dances of the Moors, the African tribe that conquered large parts of Spain, Portugal and Southern France. The tradition danced by the Britannia dancers seems to have a more definite link. It is rumoured to have been taught to Cornish tin miners by Moors who came to this country and found employment in the mines. When the work in Cornwall became scarce during the 18th & 19th centuries some of the Cornish miners came to the North-West to work in the mines and quarries and brought the tradition with them.

Tunstead Mill Nutters 1907

Tunstead Mill Nutters 1907

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The Pace Egg Play

Children”Pace Egging” in Hebden Bridge.

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.

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Tim Bobbin’ Grave

Self Portrait

Self portrait of John Collier (Tim Bobbin)

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.

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Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

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)

Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

The dancers start the procession at St. Nicholas Church.

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.

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Burns Night

Robert Burns

Robert Burns

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 »

The Prophesy of Merlin – John Reade (1870)

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.
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Little Sir Hugh

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 »

Beth Gelert; or, the Grave of the Greyhound

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.

Gelert

Gelert

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 »

A Glossary of Lancashire Dialect

Glossary of Lancashire dialect.

by

George Hull.

 

Abeawt, about
Aboon, above
Afoor, before
An’, and
Appos, apples
As, ‘At, that
Aw, I
Aw’ll, I will
Aw s’, I shall
Aye, sure; yes, certainly

Bawls eawt, calls out
Beawn to, bound to, going to
Beawt, without
Bell-heawr, meal time
Bi theirsel’, by themselves, alone
Bin, been
Bobby, policeman
Bod, but, only
Booat, boat
Bowt, bought
Brass, money
Breet, bright
Brid, bird
Browt, brought
Broo, brow
Brooak, broke
Brunt, burnt
Bud, but, only

Campin’, chatting.
Canel, Canal
Catched, caught
Ceawrd, cowered
Chaff, banter
Chap, fellow
Cheer, chair
Childer, children
Chimbley, chimney
Chucked, thrown
Clam, starve
Cleawds, clouds
Cleynin’, cleaning
Clooas, clothes
Co, (1) call, (2) abuse
Codger (Cadger), fellow
Con, can
Connod, cannot
Cooat, coat
Cooartin‘, courting
Coom, came
Corn’d, cannot
Cosses, curses, curse
Cowd, cold
Crack, (1) an instant, (2) a joke or merry
anecdote
Craytur, creature
Creawded, crowded
Cronies, mates
Cut, canal

Dad, father
Daicent, decent
Deawn, down
Dee, die
Disate, deceit
Doesno’, does not, dost not
Dooin’, doing
Dorn’d, don’t
Dree, monotonous
Dreeam, dream
Drooav, drove
Dudn’d, did not
Dust, a warm discussion
Dule (Devil), smart fellow

Eawr, our
Eawt, out
E’e, eye; E’en, eyes
‘Em, them
Eyt, eat

Fauce (False), knowing, wise
Fayther, father
Fayver, fever
Feeard, afraid
Fella, fellow
Fleawr, (1) flour, (2) flower
Fo, fall
Foo’, fool
Fooak, folk
Footbo’, football
Forged, forget
Forrad, forward
Fost, first
Fotch, fetch
Fowd, fold, yard
Fowt, fought, toiled
Fun’, found

Ged, get;
Geddin, getting
Geet, got
Getten, gotten
Gill (Jill), in Lancashire, half-a pint
Gi’n, given
Gooa, go; Gooan, gone
Gowd, gold
Gradely, proper-ly, thorough-ly
Gred, great
Gronny, granny

Hafe, or Hofe, half
Hafe-timer (Half-timer), a child
who works during one half of each day and attends school the other half
Heaw, how
Heawr, hour
Heawse, house
Hed, had
He’d, (1) he had, (2) he would
Heeard, heard
Hes, has; Hev, have
Heyd, head
Hob, side of fireplace opposite oven
Hoo, she
Hooam, home
Hooarse, hoarse
Horts, hurts
Hoss, horse

I’, in
Id, it; Id’, its
Ill fooak, sick folks
Iv, if

Jannock, genuine
Jiffy, instant

Keer, care
Knowed, knew

Layrock, lark
Leeap, leap
Leet, light
Leet on, alight upon, discover
Lick, beat
Limber, lithe, active
Loce, loose
Looan, lane
Lots, plenty
Loysin’, losing

Mad, vexed
Maister, master
Mam, mother
Marlocks, practical jokes
Meawse, mouse
Meawths, mouths
Med, made; Mek, make
Meyt, meat
Mi, my; Misel’, myself
Mich, much
Mo, me
Mon, man
Mony, many
Mooast, most Moor, more
Moytherd, worried, troubled
Mun, must; Mut, might

Nau’but, naught but
Neaw, now
Neet, night
Nob’ry, nobody
Nod, not
Nod, a, a doze, a sleep
Nor, than
Nowe, no (the negative answer)
Nowt, nought
Noysy, nosy

O, all
O’, of, on
Oather, either
Olez, always
On, of
Ooak, oak
Oon, Oven
Oppen, open
Otogether, altogether
Ov, of
Owd, old
Owt, aught, anything, ought

Papper, paper, newspaper
Peawnd, pound
Peawrs, powers
Peearkt, perched
Pleecemon, policeman
Pon, pan
Poo’d, pulled
Pooarch, porch
Pratty, pretty
Preawd, proud

Quare, queer
Quate, quiet

Rayther, rather
Reawnd, round
Reet, Reight, right
Rowls, rolls
Ruffins (Ruffians), rough lads

Scoor, score
Seawnd, sound
Seawr, sour
Seeatbooard, the seatboard of
a handloom
Seet, sight; See ‘t, see it, saw it.
Seet off, started off
Set, sat
Sheawr, shower
Sheawted, shouted
Sheed, shed, let fall
Si, (1) see, (2) saw
Sich, such
Sin, seen; Sin’, since
Skeeam, scheme
Slutch, sludge
Smooky, smoky
Some’at, somewhat, something
Sooa, so; Sooart, sort
Sowd, sold
Sowjered, soldiered, served in the army
Sowl, soul
Speawtin’ (Spouting), speechmaking
Stannin’, standing
Sterted, started
Steylin’, stealing
Stooary, story
Stor thi stumps, stir thy feet
Swellin’, swelling, swaggering

T’, Th’, the
Ta, Tha, Thae, thou
Tay, tea
Teawn, town
Tekkin’, taking
Tentin’, attending to
Tenter, weaver’s assistant
Ter’ble, terrible, wonderful
Teyched, taught
Thad, that
Thae’rt, Tha’rt, thou art
Thacked, thatched
Theer, there
Theirsel’, themselves
They’n, they have
Thick, friendly
Thowt, thought
To’ard, To’art, toward
Took his hook, ran off
Towd, told
Toyler, toiler
Two-o’-thre’ (two or three), a few

Uns, ones

Varra, very
Voyce, voice

Wakken, waken
Watter, Wayter, water
Waur, were, was
Waurld, world
Weel, well
Welly, well nigh
We’n, we have
Wer, short sound of were; used in dialect for was, and occasionally for our
We s’, we shall
Weyvin’, weaving
Wheer, where
Whol, while
Wi’, with
Wi’nod, will not
Wi’ ‘t, with it
Wo, wall
Wod, (1) what, (2) would
Wodn’d, would not
Wooave, wove
Wo’st, worst
Wo’th, worth

Yar, our
Yed, head
Yer, Yore, your
Yo’n, you have

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