British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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March 15.]                     palm Sunday.                                 123
nected with a tenure of property; and in the particulars of sale, circulated in 1845, is the following account of it:
" This estate is held subject to the performance, on Palm Sunday in every year, of the ceremony of cracking a whip in Caistor Church, in the said county ot Lincoln, which has been regularly and duly performed on Palm Sunday, from time immemorial, in the following manner:
" The whip is taken every Palm Sunday by a man from Broughton to the parish of Caistor, who, while the minister is reading the first lesson, cracks it three distinct times in the church porch, then folds it neatly up, and retires to a seat. At the commencement of the second lesson, he ap­proaches the minister, and kneeling opposite to him with the whip in his hand, and the purse at the end of it, held per­pendicularly over his head, waves it thrice, and continues in a steadfast position throughout the whole of the chapter. The ceremony is then concluded. The whip has a leathern purse tied at the end of it, which ought to contain thirty pieces of silver, said to represent, according to Scripture, " the price of blood." Four pieces of weechelm* tree, of different lengths, are affixed to the stock, denoting the different Gospels of the holy Evangelists; the three distinct cracks are typical of St. Peter's denial of his Lord and Master three times; and the waving it over the minister's head as an intended homage to the Blessed Trinity."
In an article on this subject in the Archaeological Journal (1849, vol. vi. p. 239), the writer says: " I have not been able to trace this custom to its source. It would appear to have prevailed in very primitive times, and yet the circumstance of the custom requiring the more essential part of the ceremony to be performed during the reading of the second lesson is scarcely reconcilable with this idea; but I am induced to think that the custom prevailed long before our present ritual existed, and that it has in this respect been ac­commodated to the changes which time has effected in the services of the Church. Unfortunately, the title-deeds do not contain the slightest reference to the custom. I have no means of tracing the title beyond 1675. The parish of Broughton is a very large one, and anterior to 1G75 belonged, * Properly Wych elm (JJlmus montana).
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