British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Jan. 25.]                       st. paul's day.                                   49
the children of the Gray Friars, and then those of St. Paul's school. There were eight bishops, and the Bishop of London, mitred, bearing the Sacrament, with many torches burning, and a canopy borne over. And so about the churchyard, and in at the West door, with the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, and all the Companies in their best liveries. And within a while after, the King came, and the Lord Cardinal, and the Prince of Piemont, and divers lords and knights. At the foot of the steps to the choir, as the King went up, kneeled the gentlemen lately pardoned, offering him their service. After mass, they returned to the court to dinner. And at night bonfires, and great ringing of bells in every church. And all this joy was for the conversion of the realm.
It was on this day that the husbandmen of old used to make prognostics of the weather, and of other matters for the whole year, a custom which Bourne (Antiquitates Vulgares, chap, xviii. p. 159) has tried to unravel.— New Curiosities of Literature, Soane, 1847, p. 42.
St. Paul's Cathedral.—One of the strangest of the old ceremonies in which the clergy of St. Paul's Cathedral used to figure was that which was performed twice a year, namely, on the day of the Conversion, and on that of the Com­memoration of St. Paul. On the former of these festivals a fat buck, and on the latter a" fat doe, was presented to the church by the family of Baud, in consideration of some lands which they held of the Dean and Chapter at West Lee in Essex. The original agreement made with Sir William Le Baud, in 1274, was that he himself should attend in person with the animals; but some years afterwards it was arranged that the presentation should be made by a servant, accompanied by a deputation of part of the family. The priests, however, continued to perform their part in the show. On the aforesaid days, the buck and doe were brought by one or more servants at the hour of the procession, and through the midst thereof, and offered at the high altar of St. Paul's Cathedral; after which the persons that brought the buck received of the Dean and Chapter, by the hands of their chamberlain, twelvepence for thoir entertainment;
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