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.                                 131
opinion that it had some reference to the subject of the second lesson for Palm Sunday, which is the 26th chapter of St. Matthew, and if so, it would seem likely to follow, that the principal part of the ceremony took place at the reading of that chapter; but in that case it has clearly undergone some change, because, until the last revision of the Book of Common Prayer, there was no proper second lesson for the morning of Palm Sunday; but the 26th chapter of St. Matthew was part of the Gospel for that day, and had been so from Anglo-Saxon times.
Perhaps the better opinion is, that this custom, recently discontinued, had been so varied from time to time as to have borne at last little resemblance to what originally took place. I do not suppose at its commencement it was regarded as at all irreverent, or was intended to be otherwise than most decorous, according to the idea of a semi-barbarous age; what it really was at first it is now impossible to conjecture or dis­cover. The explanation suggested in the particulars of sale appears too much in accordance with modern notions to be altogether correct. Some allege a tradition that it was a self-inflicted penance by a former owner of the Broughton estate for killing a boy with such a whip."
In May, 1836, the following petition was presented to the House of Lords by the lord of the manor against the annual observance of this custom ; but without effect:
' To the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled.
"The petition of the undersigned Sir Culling Eardley Smith, of Bedwell Park, in the county of Hertford, sheweth, that your petitioner is lord of the manor of Hundon, near Caistor, in the county of Lincoln.
11 That the lord of the manor of Broughton, near Brigg, in the same county, yearly, on Palm Sunday, employs a person to perform the following ceremony in the parish church at Caistor, etc ; that the performance of this superstitious cere­mony is utterly inconsistent with a place of Christian worship.
" That it is generally supposed that it is a penance for murder, and that, in the event of the performance being neglected, the lord of the manor of Broughton would be liable to the penalty to the lord of the manor of Hundon.
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