British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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82                                     SHROVE TUESDAY.                          [Feb. 3'
In many parts of this county the church bell is rung about noon, as the signal for preparing pancakes. At Daventry the bell which is rung on this occasion is muffled on one side with leather, or buffed, as it is termed, and obtains the name of Pan-burn-belL Jingling rhymes in connection with this day are repeated by the peasantry, varying in different districts. The following are the most current:
" Pancakes and fritters, Says the bells of St. Peter's. Where must we fry 'em ? Says the bells of Cold Higham. In yonder land thurrow [furrow], Says the bells of Wellingborough. You owe me a shilling, Says the bells of Great Billing. When will you pay me ? Says the bells at Middleton Cheney, When I am able, Says the bells at Dunstable. That will never be, Says the bells at Coventry. Oh, yes it will,
Says Northampton Great BelL White bread and sop, Says the bells at Kingsthrop. Trundle a lantern, Says the bells at Northampton."
That the bells of the churches of Northampton used also to be rung on this day may be inferred from the following similar doggerel:
" Roast beef and marsh-mallows, Says the bells of All Hallow's, Pancakes and fritters. Says the bells of St. Peter's. Roast beef and boil'd, Says the bells of St. Giles'. Poker and tongs. Says the bells of St. John's.*
* St. John's Hospital
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