Many customs have vanished, quietly dying out without giving a sign. The present generation has witnessed the extinction of many observances which our fathers practised and revered, and doubtless the progress of decay will continue.
We have entered upon a diminished inheritance. Still it is surprising to find how much has been left; how tenaciously the English race clings to that which habit and usage have established; how ancient customs hold sway in the palace, the parliament, the army, the law courts, amongst educated people as well as unlearned rustics; how they cluster around our social institutions, are enshrined in religious ceremonial, and are preserved by law; how carefully they have been guarded through the many ages of their existence, and how deeply rooted they are in the affections of the English people.
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This book is intended not to raise fears but to record facts. We wish to describe with pen and pencil those features of England which are gradually disappearing, and to preserve the memory of them.
It may be said that we have begun our quest too late; that so much has already vanished that it is hardly worth while to record what is left. Although much has gone, there is still, however, much remaining that is good, that reveals the artistic skill and taste of our forefathers, and recalls the wonders of old-time.
It will be our endeavour to tell of the old country houses that Time has spared, the cottages that grace the village green, the stern grey walls that still guard some few of our towns, the old moot halls and public buildings. We shall see the old-time farmers and rustics gathering together at fair and market, their games and sports and merry-makings, and whatever relics of old English life have been left for an artist and scribe of the twentieth century to record.
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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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Also available for Kindle
Cecil Sharp’s collection of Sword Dances.
A collection of Sword-Dances and accompanying music collected, described and arranged by Cecil J. Sharp. Long-Sword Dances The Kirby Malzeard Sword-Dance The Grenoside Sword-Dance Short-Sword Dances The Swalwell Sword-Dance The Earsdon Sword-Dance Also The Abbots Bromley Sword Dance
This edition also incorporates the accompanying Songs and Dance Airs.
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