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 20.
At the church of All Hallows, Lombard Street, a sermon is preached every Good Friday in accordance with the direc­tions of the will of Peter Symonds, dated 1587. Gifts, also, are distributed, consisting of a new penny and a packet of raisins, to a certain number of the younger scholars of Christ's Hospital.—City Press, April 12th 1873.f
Just outside the church of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, Smithfield, the rector places twenty-one sixpences on a gravestone, which the same number of poor widows pick up. The custom is nearly as old as the church, and originated in the will of a lady, who left a sum of money to pay for the sermon, and to yield these sixpences to be distributed ever her grave. As however, her will is lost, and her tomb gone, the traditionary spot of her interment is chosen for the dis­tribution, a strange part of the tradition being that any one being too stiff in the joints to pick up the money is not to receive it.—Ibid.
On Good Friday the Portuguese and South American vessels in the London Docks observe their annual custom of flogging Judas Iscariot. The following extract is taken from the Times (April 5th, 1874):—"At daybreak a block of wood, roughly carved to imitate the Betrayer, and clothed in an ordinary sailor's suit, with a red worsted cap on its head, was hoisted by a rope round its neck into the fore-rigging ; the crews of the various vessels then went to chapel,
they should be " rulyd with justyce, and that the libertyes of the cytie shulde be maynteyned in every poynt." In 1299 the Dean of St. Paul's proclaimed from the Cross that all persons who searched for treasure in the church of St. Martin-le-Urand, or consented to the searching, were accursed; and it was here that Jane Shore, with a taper in one hand, and arrayed in her ' kyrtell onelye,' was exposed to open penance. After 1633, sermons were no longer preached at the Cross, but within the cathedral; and in 1643 it was altogether taken down.—Godwin and Britton, Churches of London, 1839; Pennant, Account of London, 1793 ; Bray ley, Londiniana, 1829.
t Under the same will the children of Langbonrn Ward Schools who help in the choir, and the children of the Sunday School, receive each a bun, and various sums of new money, ranging from Id. to Is., besides the poor of the parish, on whom it bestowed Is. each and a loaf. The money used to be given away over the tomb of the donor, until the railway in Liverpool Street effaced the spot- City Press, April 12, 1873.
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